Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06MANILA4553.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4553 2006-11-02 09:12 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO7185
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4553/01 3060912
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 020912Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3734
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004553

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S OUTREACH TO MUSLIM AUDIENCES IN MARAWI CITY, MINDANAO

¶1. Summary. During an October 26 visit to “The Islamic City of
Marawi,” the Ambassador and senior Embassy officials emphasized the
U.S.-Philippine partnership in promoting peace and prosperity in
Muslim Mindanao in an address to a Muslim Women’s conference on the
environment, a radio interview, a luncheon meeting with local
leaders, a discussion with students at Mindanao State University,
and stops at USG assistance projects. Local residents warmly
welcomed the Embassy delegation, called for a more direct U.S. role
in the Mindanao peace process, and reiterated that Mindanao’s Muslim
population did not support terrorism. End summary.

———————————————
THE ISLAMIC CITY OF MARAWI
———————————————

¶2. The Islamic City of Marawi is the capital of the province of
Lanao del Sur, with a population that is 92% Muslim, numerous
mosques and madrassahs, and nearly 70 Islamic congregations, each
under the leadership of an Imam. Arabic is widely spoken, and many
men and virtually all women wear some manner of head covering,
although female attire runs the gamut from full chador to blue
jeans. Marawi is the largest of many towns and villages on the
shores of Lake Lanao, all of which depend upon it for a great deal
of their food and transportation, as well as most of their electric
power. Local residents enthusiastically welcomed the Ambassador and
senior Embassy officials, including the head of the Joint Special
Operations Task Force-Philippines, and eagerly sought
U.S.-Philippine flag pins and other Embassy souvenir items.

—————————– ———————————-
MUSLIM WOMEN FOCUS ON ENVIRONMENT
—————————– ———————————-

¶3. At the invitation of the Philippine Muslim Women Council, the
Ambassador delivered a keynote address to its Conference on the
Environmental Protection of Lake Lanao, attended by at least two
hundred women and men. Participants ranged from colorful abaya-clad
dowagers to Muslim Girl Scouts to representatives of the Chamber of
Commerce to military commanders in combat fatigues. The
Ambassador’s remarks focused on the Islamic tradition of respect for
the natural environment, the role of women in society, and the
trans-gender, trans-national interest in promoting economic
development. The Ambassador wore a headscarf, which had been
presented upon her entry to the conference, and her speech was
interrupted by periodic applause. Numerous attendees expressed
their delight at the Ambassador’s attendance and her display of
respect for their culture and their cause. There was a spirited
clamor for photographs and private conversations at the conclusion
of her remarks.

¶4. The Ambassador then gave an interview to DXSO Radyo Ng Bayan
(“People’s Radio”), operated by the Philippine Broadcast Service.
She emphasized USG interest in promoting the peace process and
economic development in Mindanao through education. The Ambassador
commented on the positive nature of the reception extended by the
people of Marawi, and noted that the atmosphere of mutual respect
was consistent with U.S. traditions of tolerance, acceptance of
diverse religious beliefs, and commitment to the peaceful resolution
of conflict.

——————————————–
LUNCH WITH LOCAL LEADERS
——————————————–

¶5. Mayor Solitario Ali hosted a lunch at his home on the shore of
Lake Lanao for the Ambassador and about 30 top officials of the
local government and prominent leaders of the academic and religious
communities. Mayor Ali (who is also is President of the Muslim
League of Cities, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation
Front, and a member of the Ulama League), described the joint
efforts of the Ulama League and Catholic Bishops to support the
peace process is attempting to work with Catholic leaders on the
peace initiative. Both Mayor Ali and former Mayor Aleem Mahid
Mutilan (also a three-time provincial governor and founder and
president of the Ulama League) called for a more direct U.S. role in
the peace process in Mindanao. They assured the Ambassador that
Marawi City was committed to peace and its residents rejected
violence and terrorism. The Ambassador reiterated the U.S.
commitment to the peace process, U.S. willingness to engage more
directly if the negotiating parties so requested, and promised
continued U.S. support and assistance for peace and prosperity.

¶6. In a separate meeting, Colonel Rodrigo Alivio of the First
Philippine Marine Brigade confirmed excellent collaboration with
JSTOF-P, and underscored the commitment of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines in keeping the 150 miles of road between Marawi City and
Cotabato City open for safe transit. The Ambassador expressed
appreciation for the AFP’s role in combating terrorism and improving
safety for local residents.

——————————————— —

MANILA 00004553 002 OF 002

MINDANAO STATE UNIVERSTIY
——————————————— —

¶7. MSU Marawi’s emphasis is on building bridges between Islam and
Christianity, while maintaining a strong Muslim cultural and
religious identity. The Embassy established an American Studies
Resource Center at MSU in 1998 to provide current information about
the U.S. to students, faculty, government officials, and private
sector professionals. The Ambassador engaged in an animated
dialogue with 25 students from the departments of Political Science,
Humanities, English, and Law. Students welcomed the Ambassador’s
characterization of the U.S. policy as one of partnership and
encouragement for the peace process. The Ambassador also visited
MSU’s Peace Center as well as its Center for Women Studies, where
USG-provided sewing machines helped in providing livelihood training
and creation of textile handicrafts.

——————————–
—————————————-
USG ASSISTANCE PROJECTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
——————————–
—————————————-

¶8. The Ambassador visited the ruins of Amai Pakpak Medical Center
(originally a U.S. Army barracks but which became the Lanao Public
Hospital in 1913), which had been completely destroyed by fire the
week before. Addressing over 100 staff members, the Ambassador
congratulated them on their accomplishments in providing healthcare
to the Lake Lanao region, expressed condolences for the loss of a
critically important institution, reiterated the USG commitment to
public health in the Philippines, and announced the arrival of a
JSTOF-P MEDCAP unit with medicines and a surgical unit on October
27, as well as the imminent delivery of a new ambulance donated by
the U.S.-based “3P Foundation.” The local media gave extensive
coverage to this news.

¶9. Welcomed by rows of U.S. flag waving students, the Ambassador
also visited Jamiatu Muslim Mindanao High School, a madrassah, where
USAID’s Computer Literacy and Internet Connectivity program had
provided a wireless broadband internet connection, 10 computers with
software, 3 webcams, a printer, e-books, and other resource
materials. School administrators expressed thanks for the provision
of otherwise unobtainable computer equipment. The female president
of the student body (clad like all the girls in a tightly wrapped
black headscarf) revealed that her longtime dream to travel the
world had at last been realized thanks to access to the internet.
Students and faculty alike expressed hunger for contact with the
outside world and gratitude for the USG assistance. The Ambassador
conveyed her satisfaction at seeing the youth of Marawi benefit from
computer learning and internet access, and challenged them to take
responsibility for the future of their nation.

¶10. In nearby Iligan City, the Ambassador attended the 50th
anniversary of the founding of the First Valley Bank, supported for
the past seven years by USAID’s Micro-enterprise Access to Banking
Services program. The bank’s president, its first loan clients, a
number of successful micro-entrepreneurs, and the mayor (who just
returned from a successful International Visitor program to the
U.S.) extended warm thanks. The Ambassador congratulated USAID,
the bank, and its clients on their mutual successes, highlighted
their significant contributions to the economic development of the
region, and underscored the importance of private initiative and
enterprise.

—————-
COMMENT
—————-

¶11. The Ambassador’s trip to Marawi City and vicinity revealed high
levels of interest in and support for USG activities in Mindanao, an
appreciation of U.S. respect for religious diversity, and a
remarkable affection for American culture. Muslim residents warmly
welcomed the message of a U.S.-Philippine partnership for peace and
prosperity in Muslim Mindanao, and were adamant in distancing
themselves from the ideology of radical Islam and terrorism.

KENNEY

   

 

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