Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3133 2005-07-07 14:05 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003133


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2015


¶B. MANILA 3054

Classified By: A/DCM Scott Bellard for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (S) Summary. In an apparent pre-emptive move against
threatened resignations by some key Cabinet members,
President Arroyo announced to the nation on July 7 that she
had asked for the resignation of her entire Cabinet and would
focus her own efforts in the future on political reform.
Former President Aquino and Archbishop Rosales still intend
to press for her resignation today. The extent — and
quality — of those not planning to return to the Cabinet are
still largely unknown publicly, but many politicos already
realize that Finance Secretary Purisima was the one who
pushed her hand. GMA’s likelihood of remaining in office has
diminished sharply, although she may be able to weather
criticism and commentary in the next few days or perhaps even
longer. End Summary.

¶2. (U) In a brief prime time radio broadcast on July 7
(carried also on major television channels), President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo reiterated that she would not/not resign but
announced that she had requested the resignations of her
entire Cabinet. She noted that this move would help her move
forward to reorganize the Cabinet; she promised that Cabinet
members would henceforth have a “free hand to govern” while
she would focus on fundamental changes to the political
system and outreach to political and civil society. She
claimed that this was not a “political ploy or gimmick” but
rather represented an effort to make real reforms in the
political way of life as a “legacy” to the children of the
Philippines. She lamented that she had been personally
“demonized” and that the entire political system had
“degenerated” to a point where no one’s hands were
“untainted.” She criticized ongoing Congressional hearings,
which she said were clearly not in aid of legislation. She
admitted that some of her advisers had urged her not to make
the admission last week about her “lapse in judgment” about
talking to an election official in 2004, but insisted that it
was nonetheless the right move and that the conversation had
taken place after the certificates of voting had already been
counted. She noted that she had originally planned to call
for political reform in her State of the Nation Address on
July 25, but instead decided to begin now. She claimed that
if she resigned, this would only encourage a series of “EDSA”
people power movements in the future.

¶3. (S) Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima confirmed to Charge
that he had, as planned (ref b — notal), confronted Arroyo
on July 7 to demand her resignation or face the resignation
of her entire economic team and some other trusted Cabinet
members. He noted that her response had left him no choice
but to proceed as planned. He confided that former President
Corazon Aquino and Manila Archbishop Rosales still planned to
meet with Arroyo late on July 7 to demand her resignation,
and promised to brief us on the outcome.

¶4. (S) Purisima’s unhappiness and intention to resign have
already become known in political circles. Opposition
legislator Ronnie Zamorra described a “Cabinet mutiny” led by
Purisima and Trade Ministry Santos. GMA coalition-mate
Congressman Gilberto Teodora said Arroyo had clearly acted to
“pre-empt” resignations of “civil society Cabinet members”
including Purisima, but called the move “panicky.” House
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jesli Lapus, a key ally in
the VAT legislation passage, nonetheless called the
President’s move a “good one,” but admitted that Arroyo
apparently was “forced by circumstances to ask for courtesy

¶5. (S) Comment: Arroyo is digging in her heels, as
expected. Her pre-emptive move to dismiss the Cabinet was an
attempt to make the best out of a bad situation, at least
until the extent — and quality — of those not returning to
the Cabinet quickly become known. Influential business
community representatives as late as the afternoon of July 7
had indicated that they were sticking with her, for now, and
would not demand her resignation. This may soon change,
especially as economic news worsens, including reports that
the GRP had had to begin to intervene to prop up the peso.
Today’s news could be much worse — she did not declare
martial law and there are no signs of any interest by the
military in political intervention or a coup d’etat — but at
best represents an against-the-wall effort by Arroyo to
remain in power. She apparently is willing to jettison the
focus on her once ambitious economic and financial reform
agenda as she pursues a doomed short-term battle for
significant political reform. The likelihood of her
remaining in power has now diminished sharply, although she
should be able to weather the barrage of criticism and
commentary over the next few days — or perhaps even longer.



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