Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1178.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1178 2006-03-15 09:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO9127
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1178/01 0740950
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 150950Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9987
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5663
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9279
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2549
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001178

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, G/TIP, S/CT
USPACOM FOR HUSO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER EWWT RP BM
SUBJECT: ASEAN: LOOKING AHEAD AS THE PHILIPPINES PREPARES TO TAKE CHARGE

REF: MANILA 623

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (SBU) Summary. The Philippines will assume the rotating
Chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) in July 2006. The GRP plans to use its chairmanship
to focus ASEAN on maritime security and counterterrorism
issues, as well as regional anti-trafficking efforts,
alternative energy policies, and “socio-cultural” issues.
The Philippine leadership will seek to ensure that ASEAN is
open to dialogue on Burma. By the end of 2006, ASEAN may
adopt a formal charter in a bid to make the organization a
more significant regional political and economic power. The
Philippines will also host the East Asia Summit (EAS) in
December 2006, but, at present, the GRP goals for the EAS are
loose and undefined. End Summary.

————————————
VAP – Road Map for ASEAN Integration
————————————

¶2. (SBU) The Philippines will assume the rotating
Chairmanship of ASEAN in July 2006. According to Department
of Foreign Affairs Office of ASEAN Affairs Executive Director
Sylvia Marasigan, the GRP’s primary objective would be to
continue the implementation of the 2004 ASEAN Summit’s
Vientiane Action Program (VAP), which aims to promote
integration through security cooperation, economic
prosperity, and socio-cultural development. The GRP’s major
emphasis would be on the socio-cultural development pillar —
which includes such issues as regional identity, protection
of citizens (especially women and children), the environment,
and public health — where the Philippines has the lead role.

——————————————— —
Security: Maritime and Counterterrorism Issues
——————————————— —

¶3. (SBU) The GRP plans to use its chairmanship as well to
focus ASEAN on maritime security and counterterrorism issues.
Marasigan stated that before the end of the Philippines’
tenure, the GRP hoped to develop an ASEAN Maritime Security
agreement and to make maritime security a priority issue at
the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

¶4. (SBU) The ASEAN counterterrorism agenda under Philippine
leadership would focus on strengthening joint
counterterrorism commitments with ASEAN’s ten Dialogue
Partners, including Canada, the most recent addition.
Marasigan added that, as the concurrent chair of the APEC
Counter Terrorism Task Force and host to the 2006 ASEAN
Regional Forum, the Philippines plans to host a multilateral
counterterrorism conference in April (reftel). Marasigan
observed that these activities presented an opportunity for
synergy with the GRP’s ASEAN chairmanship, allowing for
significant advances in ASEAN and ASEAN Dialogue
counterterrorism efforts.

—–
Burma
—–

¶5. (SBU) Marasigan noted that the Philippines has been
sympathetic to U.S. and international concerns regarding
Burma, and has attempted to use its membership in
international and multilateral bodies to advance the cause
democracy there. As Chair of ASEAN, the GRP would continue
these efforts. While Burmese membership in ASEAN made the
forum a difficult one in which to exert pressure, especially
since decision-making in ASEAN is consensus-based, Marasigan
stated the GRP will continue to be receptive to dialogue with
the U.S. on Burma, both bilaterally and in its role as ASEAN
chair, Marasigan said.

————–
Energy and TIP
————–

MANILA 00001178 002 OF 003

¶6. (SBU) According to Marasigan, combating trafficking in
persons will remain a key component of ASEAN’s socio-cultural
development agenda. The Philippines will also push for ASEAN
consensus and a plan of action on energy policy, focusing on
the development of alternative energy sources. President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has made alternative energy
development a top priority for the GRP, is personally behind
this initiative.

—————————–
ASEAN’s Next Step: A Charter
—————————–

¶7. (SBU) As ASEAN moves into the future, the GRP sees the
establishment of a charter as an important next step for the
organization. An Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the ASEAN
Charter has already begun work on the document (the
Philippine representative to the EPG is former President
Fidel Ramos), and a draft charter should be ready by December
¶2006. Citing the EU as a model, Marasigan said the GRP
believes that a charter will help ASEAN become a more
significant regional political and economic power, and
provide an important counter-balance to the rising powers of
China and India.

——————————-
Beyond ASEAN: East Asia Summit
——————————-

¶8. (C) The Philippines will also host the East Asia Summit
in December 2006. On February 9, President Arroyo told
Charge that the Philippines strongly supports deeper U.S.
engagement in regional structures in Southeast Asia.
Continuing high level U.S. engagement with Asia Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) is also essential, but President
Arroyo said she wanted the U.S. to enhance its relationship
with ASEAN in particular. Observing that the EAS had become
a diverse collection of countries, President Arroyo suggested
that the U.S. not neglect it either, since several countries
in the region are very interested in it. She noted that the
Philippines, as host, supports including Russia as a full EAS
member at President Putin’s request. President Arroyo added
that the U.S. role in Southeast Asia was being overshadowed
by increased trade and investment from China, and, in the
case of the Philippines, by tourism from South Korea. Her
goal, however, was to deepen relations with the U.S. even as
relationships grow with other countries so that the U.S.
maintains its role in the Philippines and the region.

¶9. (SBU) At present, the GRP’s goals of the EAS are still
relatively loose and undefined. According to Maria Andrelita
Austria, Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Policy
at the DFA, the EAS’s most immediate goal is to bring ASEAN’s
other dialogue partners into the group. The loose structure
and lack of policy-making apparatus in the EAS also make it a
poor venue for the pursuit of concrete policy goals, Austria
suggested. She cited democratic reform in Burma in
particular as an issue the EAS would almost certainly not
address.

——-
Comment
——-

¶10. (C) The Philippines can be expected to use its
chairmanship of ASEAN to maintain focus on regional issues of
great interest to the U.S., especially maritime security,
counterterrorism, and democratic reforms in Burma. That’s
the good news. But the fact remains that ASEAN’s
consensus-driven decision-making style does not lend itself
to quick, decisive, action. Nevertheless, the GRP remains
rightly proud of brokering the 2002 Information Exchange and
Establishment of Communications, a trilateral
counterterrorism agreement signed by the Philippines,
Malaysia, and Indonesia, and points to its success as a model
for broader counterterrorism efforts ASEAN could undertake
under Philippine leadership. As the GRP prepares for its
starring role in ASEAN, the USG’s goal should be to continue
to press the GRP to move forward on a substantive agenda for
ASEAN. The GRP would also view a decision by the USG to
participate in the EAS as a national triumph and a tribute to

MANILA 00001178 003 OF 003

our unique bilateral partnership.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State
Department’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

Jones

   

 

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