Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/10/07MANILA3341.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3341
2007-10-05 10:46
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO7738
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3341/01 2781046
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051046Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8517
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003341

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL CASC BTIO BEXP EAIR ECON RP

SUBJECT: Ambassador’s Visit Highlights U.S. Engagement in Northern Luzon
¶1. (U) SUMMARY: The Ambassador traveled to Ilocos Norte, a
relatively remote area in the far north of the Philippines, to
reaffirm U.S. commitment to the region through donation of computer

equipment to governmental and educational institutions by USAID and
DHS. During the two-day trip, the Ambassador visited an important
veteran’s memorial, and met with regional civic leaders to highlight
progress on enforcement of environmental regulations. The
Ambassador’s events were well-covered by the Philippine media. END
SUMMARY.
Ilocos Norte: The Region
————————
¶2. (U) Ilocos Norte is a province marked by a tradition of
achievement, emigration, and the Marcos legacy. A high value is
placed on order and education, evidenced by the tidiness of public
places and a concern for educational facilities. Ilocanos have been
migrating to Hawaii in large numbers for over 100 years, originally
to work the pineapple harvest, and more recently to fill healthcare
and service industry positions. Influx of capital from returning
residents and remittances of U.S.-earned income comprise a
significant portion of regional revenue. The traditional economy is
based on agriculture and fishing, and the recent introduction of
casino gaming is attracting large numbers of Chinese and Korean
tourists.
¶3. (SBU) Of concern to the region is the extensive smuggling of
both consumer goods and persons, which is facilitated by proximity
to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, and by the lack of adequate
border controls. The illicit products are mainly destined for the
domestic market, although counterfeit currency and undocumented
individuals could ultimately make their way to Taiwan and the U.S.
The recent establishment of a Consulate of the People’s Republic of
China in Ilocos Norte’s capital city of Laoag has served to
consolidate the Chinese presence.
¶4. (SBU) Governor Michael Marcos Keon is the nephew of former
President Ferdinand Marcos, son of three-term governor Elizabeth
Marcos, and cousin of former governor and now Congressman Ferdinand
Marcos, Jr. A collegiate athlete and avid sportsman, he served as
director of the national sports program and a member of the
Provincial Board of Ilocos Norte before assuming the governorship
and reaffirming the dominant role of the Marcos family in regional
politics. The Mayor of Laoag City is of the rival Farinas clan,
who together with ex-governor and congressman Roque Ablan constitute
the main local opposition to the Marcos family.
Computers for Government and Education
————————————–
¶5. (U) The Ambassador dedicated $372,000 in computer equipment
donated by USAID to the district offices of the Philippine Bureau of
Internal Revenue in Laoag City as part of the Millennium Challenge
Account Threshold Program. Local press and an enthusiastic crowd of
Bureau of Internal Revenue employees and regional and national
dignitaries attended the launch of equipment designed to increase
the efficiency and transparency of the revenue collection process in
the province.
¶6. (U) Rural school districts were introduced to the digital age
in a ceremony dedicating the first computers ever possessed by
regional schools. The Ambassador was joined by representatives of
the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs
Enforcement division which donated the computers to elementary and
secondary schools in northern townships of the province. The
principal of a hosting school delivered a powerful speech in which
he asked the Ambassador to convey gratitude to President Bush for
honoring his humble rural school district with the donation of
computers which will enable area students to benefit from modern
educational technology. The more than 800 children in attendance
carried home made American flags and banners proclaiming “God Bless
America.”

Honoring WWII Veterans
———————-
¶7. (U) The Stingray Memorial on Caunayan Bay was the site of a
moving ceremony honoring veterans. This remote monument
commemorates the clandestine landing of supplies and munitions by
American submarines during World War II in support of Philippine
insurgency operations. The Ambassador highlighted the long history
of the Philippine-American alliance and the foundation that it
provides for peace and prosperity in the region. Veterans of the
landings attending the ceremony were warmly recognized. Floral
wreaths were launched into the sea in memory of American and
Filipino veterans.

Regional and Local Leaders – Connections and Issues
——————————————— ——
¶8. (SBU) The Ambassador met with provincial and municipal leaders,
and with the Bishop of the Diocese of Laoag. Topics discussed
included environmental issues, development of non-gambling tourism,
and concerns about smuggling activities and trafficking in persons
initiating from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Chinese mainland. The
Ambassador acknowledged efforts at the provincial and national level
to contain illegal activities and encouraged renewed focus on
enforcement deficiencies.

MANILA 00003341 002 OF 002

¶1. (U) SUMMARY: The Ambassador traveled to Ilocos Norte, a
relatively remote area in the far north of the Philippines, to
reaffirm U.S. commitment to the region through donation of computer
equipment to governmental and educational institutions by USAID and
DHS. During the two-day trip, the Ambassador visited an important
veteran’s memorial, and met with regional civic leaders to highlight
progress on enforcement of environmental regulations. The
Ambassador’s events were well-covered by the Philippine media. END
SUMMARY.
Ilocos Norte: The Region
————————
¶2. (U) Ilocos Norte is a province marked by a tradition of
achievement, emigration, and the Marcos legacy. A high value is
placed on order and education, evidenced by the tidiness of public
places and a concern for educational facilities. Ilocanos have been
migrating to Hawaii in large numbers for over 100 years, originally
to work the pineapple harvest, and more recently to fill healthcare
and service industry positions. Influx of capital from returning
residents and remittances of U.S.-earned income comprise a
significant portion of regional revenue. The traditional economy is
based on agriculture and fishing, and the recent introduction of
casino gaming is attracting large numbers of Chinese and Korean
tourists.
¶3. (SBU) Of concern to the region is the extensive smuggling of
both consumer goods and persons, which is facilitated by proximity
to Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, and by the lack of adequate
border controls. The illicit products are mainly destined for the
domestic market, although counterfeit currency and undocumented
individuals could ultimately make their way to Taiwan and the U.S.
The recent establishment of a Consulate of the People’s Republic of
China in Ilocos Norte’s capital city of Laoag has served to
consolidate the Chinese presence.
¶4. (SBU) Governor Michael Marcos Keon is the nephew of former
President Ferdinand Marcos, son of three-term governor Elizabeth
Marcos, and cousin of former governor and now Congressman Ferdinand
Marcos, Jr. A collegiate athlete and avid sportsman, he served as
director of the national sports program and a member of the
Provincial Board of Ilocos Norte before assuming the governorship
and reaffirming the dominant role of the Marcos family in regional
politics. The Mayor of Laoag City is of the rival Farinas clan,
who together with ex-governor and congressman Roque Ablan constitute
the main local opposition to the Marcos family.
Computers for Government and Education
————————————–
¶5. (U) The Ambassador dedicated $372,000 in computer equipment
donated by USAID to the district offices of the Philippine Bureau of
Internal Revenue in Laoag City as part of the Millennium Challenge
Account Threshold Program. Local press and an enthusiastic crowd of
Bureau of Internal Revenue employees and regional and national
dignitaries attended the launch of equipment designed to increase
the efficiency and transparency of the revenue collection process in
the province.
¶6. (U) Rural school districts were introduced to the digital age
in a ceremony dedicating the first computers ever possessed by
regional schools. The Ambassador was joined by representatives of
the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs
Enforcement division which donated the computers to elementary and
secondary schools in northern townships of the province. The
principal of a hosting school delivered a powerful speech in which
he asked the Ambassador to convey gratitude to President Bush for
honoring his humble rural school district with the donation of
computers which will enable area students to benefit from modern
educational technology. The more than 800 children in attendance
carried home made American flags and banners proclaiming “God Bless
America.”

¶9. (U) The Ambassador praised local authorities for banning the
practice of dynamite fishing and for aggressive enforcement of other
environmental ordinances. She acknowledged the Governor’s
commitment to sustainable development and Laoag City’s winning of
the Presidential Clean and Green Award for three consecutive years.
The significance of these to the tourism industry was noted, as was
the potential of the region as an ecotourism destination.
National and Local Media
————————
¶10. (U) The Ambassador was interviewed by local media
representatives in the provincial capital of Laoag City. A taped TV
interview highlighted the contribution of computer equipment to the
Bureau of Internal Revenue and featured the Ambassador’s personal
connection with citizens and civic leaders. A live radio interview
focused on the purpose and substance of the Ambassadorial visit and
afforded opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the region
in education and preservation of the natural environment. Both
interviews were broadcast on national networks.
KENNEY

   

 

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