Sep 132014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA4271 2005-09-11 08:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004271



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2015


¶B. MANILA 3946
¶D. MANILA 3167

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Darryl N. Johnson
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: In a September 8 meeting with Charge,
Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Rosales identified economic
and moral poverty as the greatest problems in the Philippines
today and criticized the current political leadership as
corrupt and ineffective in improving the lives of the people.
He indicated that members of the Church should refrain from
actively participating in politics, while acknowledging that
the Church has a role to play in promoting personal
development and social justice. End Summary.

¶2. (U) On September 8, Charge d’Affaires Johnson met with
Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Rosales at his residence in
Intramuros, Manila. Poloff (notetaker) also attended.

Church Should Tread Lightly in Politics

¶3. (C) Charge expressed his condolences for the passing of
Rosales’ predecessor, Jaime Cardinal Sin. Rosales
acknowledged the tremendous influence Cardinal Sin held in
the Church and in Philippine society (see ref b), but said
the Church had entered a new era and was now focused on
tending to the spiritual and material needs of its members.
He said that although the Church here had a history of
supporting freedom (citing the 1986 People Power movement, in
which Cardinal Sin played a prominent role), members of the
clergy should avoid imposing themselves directly into
political disputes. He noted that the statement the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued on July
10 regarding allegations that President Arroyo cheated in the
2004 elections was “carefully crafted.” (Note: The statement
urged the President to examine the situation and to make the
best decision for the country, while stopping short of
calling for her resignation. End Note.)

——————————————— —
Economic and Moral Poverty Threaten Philippines
——————————————— —

¶4. (C) Rosales stressed that the most important issue facing
the Philippines is poverty – both material and spiritual. He
pointed out that 62 percent of the residents of Manila live
in poverty and that more than 70 percent are below the
poverty line nationwide. To address the material needs of
Filipinos, Rosales said the Church sponsors numerous programs
to encourage personal development, such as the “Pondong
Pinoy” (Filipino Fund), in which Catholics donate 25 centavos
(about 1/2 a cent) at collection boxes throughout the
country. The program, which started in June 2004, has
sponsored feeding programs for the poor, education for
disadvantaged children, and microfinance lending to peasants.

¶5. (C) Rosales criticized the prevalence of moral poverty in
the Philippines, especially in politics. He lamented the
corruption that he claimed had permeated every presidential
administration since Ferdinand Marcos except that of Corazon
Aquino, although he admitted that even many of those around
her engaged in graft and corruption. He claimed that because
of this moral decay, successive governments had failed to
meet the needs of the Filipino people.

Other Political Issues

¶6. (C) Constitutional Change: Rosales praised former
President Fidel Ramos for his televised remarks of September
7 in which he outlined plans to move to a parliamentary
system of government. However, Rosales said that he was not
convinced that such a change would solve the country’s
pressing problems and suggested that many groups, including
the Catholic Church, would have to debate thoughtfully the
ramifications of such a move in a public Constitutional
Assembly before moving to a new form of government.

¶7. (C) China: Rosales flagged the growing dominance of
China in the region saying, “they have arrived and they want
their presence noted.” He added that he is planning a trip
to Taiwan soon, but was taking care to keep a low profile,
out of sensitivity for the “One China Policy.”

¶8. (C) Trafficking in Persons: The Church strongly
supported recent moves by the Japanese Government to tighten
its visa requirement for Filipino entertainers — many of
whom, Rosales acknowledged, ended up in prostitution. He
noted with disdain that officials from the Philippine
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had approached the
Church, urging it to support DOLE’s calls to delay the
implementation of the stricter rules. The Church remained
firm in its support of the measures. Charge pointed out that
the new requirements had been effective at reducing the
number of Filipino entertainers going to Japan (ref a).
¶9. (C) Opposition to President Arroyo: Rosales warned
Charge there were many “red flags” (i.e. leftist groups)
among groups demonstrating against President Arroyo. He said
the possibility existed for dangerous alliances between
corrupt officials such as Senator “Ping” Lacson and militant
leftist organizations.


¶10. (C) Rosales appears to be following Vatican guidance on
keeping the Church out of politics, although he is known to
be close to former President Corazon Aquino. Rosales is
likely to continue to steer the Church in the Philippines to
focus on the physical and spiritual needs of Catholics rather
than on domestic politics.

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