Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06MANILA4749.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4749 2006-11-20 00:44 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO3298
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4749/01 3240044
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 200044Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3978
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 9478
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL IMMEDIATE 2434
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 2966
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0188
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNS/COMSOCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 004749

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, PM, AND EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO AND J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP (TOOLAN/BAILEY)
JOINT STAFF/J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/CLEMMONS)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2016
TAGS: PREL MARR MCAP MOPS PHUM PGOV EAID KN RP
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILLEN MEETS WITH FOREIGN AND DEFENSE SECRETARIES

REF: A. MANILA 4526
¶B. TOKYO 6247

Classified By: (U) Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Foreign Affairs Secretary Romulo reiterated
to Assistant Secretary Hillen and Ambassador the Philippine
offer to host a round of Six Party talks on the margins of
the mid-December ASEAN/East Asian Summits in Cebu, if that
would be helpful to the United States. Romulo is optimistic
that the new Philippine government peace proposal will help
resolve the roadblock in negotiations with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front. Secretary of National Defense Cruz
believes that defense reform is institutionalized, pointing
to the growing buy-in by junior officers and the
rank-and-file. Both he and Armed Forces of the Philippines
Chief of Staff General Esperon agree that in the
counterterrorism fight “it’s not just tanks,” and are
appreciative of U.S. assistance. Romulo, Cruz, and General
Esperon all took a strong stand against extra-judicial
killings, emphasizing that any official found to be involved
would be held accountable. END SUMMARY.

OFFER OF “GOOD OFFICES” TO HOST SIX-PARTY TALKS
——————————————— —

¶2. (C) Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo in his
November 10 meeting with Assistant Secretary Hillen and
Ambassador Kenney reiterated (refs A and B) Philippine
willingness to host a round of Six Party talks on the margins
of the mid-December ASEAN/East Asian Summits in Cebu, if that
would be helpful to the United States. Praised by Assistant
Secretary Hillen and the Ambassador for his successful

SIPDIS
efforts to broker an ASEAN consensus statement on North
Korea, Romulo said the Philippines hoped to develop more
cooperative regional engagement on security issues, including
proliferation security. Romulo noted Philippine efforts
within APEC to improve counterterrorism cooperation, saying,
“We want to use our good offices to do what we can to help.”
He stated that he hoped to discuss these and other issues
with the Secretary during their meeting at the APEC Summit in
Hanoi. Assistant Secretary Hillen noted that the GRP,s
firm line on the North Korean nuclear test helped bring the
DPRK back to the table for Six Party talks. He asked the GRP
to encourage Indonesian and Malaysian participation in the
Proliferation Security Initiative.

OPTIMISM ABOUT MILF PEACE AGREEMENT
———————————–

¶3. (C) Romulo said the Philippines was determined to “hold
the line against terrorists,” pointing to its
counterterrorism partnership with the United States and
commitment to reforming its military. Despite delays in
negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
Romulo said the Philippine government had now “found the
right formula” to resolve the central question of ancestral
domain. He praised the Malaysians, Libyans, and Bruneians
for their role in the International Monitoring Team and in
keeping the negotiation process on track. A peace deal with
the MILF would allow the Philippine government to shift
resources to deal with the Communist Party of the
Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) threat. Romulo said
USAID’s “Arms to Farms” program for ex-Moro National
Liberation Front fighters in Mindanao was a “showcase” on how
to re-integrate former combatants into the community, and
stated he hoped a similar program could be extended to the
MILF once a peace treaty was signed. Ambassador Kenney
assured him that the United States stood ready to implement a
package of quick disbursing assistance to help reinforce any
settlement.

STRIDES IN COUNTERTERRORISM COOPERATION AND DEFENSE REFORM
——————————————— ————-

¶4. (C) Assistant Secretary Hillen emphasized in his

MANILA 00004749 002 OF 003

subsequent meeting with Secretary of National Defense Cruz
and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General
Esperon that the Philippines and the United States were in
the fight together against terrorism. Both Assistant
Secretary Hillen and Ambassador Kenney praised Cruz for his

SIPDIS
service as Secretary of National Defense. Cruz noted that
there had been great strides in counterterrorism cooperation
and Philippine Defense Reform was largely institutionalized.
Cruz singled out the Security Engagement Board as a very
helpful mechanism for counterterrorism cooperation, noting
that it was proof of how “a good idea could trump politics.”

¶5. (C) Cruz observed that if anyone had asked if the former
terrorist stronghold of Basilan was solvable five years ago,
no one would have said yes. The success there proved that a
focused effort can produce results. General Esperon noted
the significant impact the USNS MERCY had on the Sulu
Archipelago, where it had helped change attitudes. In the
counterterrorism fight, “it’s not just tanks,” Esperon
commented. Assistant Secretary Hillen agreed, saying that in
counterinsurgency, 80-percent of the effort is non-military.

¶6. (C) Cruz said the “Coast Watch South” maritime security
concept was progressing. Although the Malaysians were
somewhat reticent, the Indonesians were fully on board, and
the three countries were now talking trilaterally about
improving maritime security.

¶7. (C) Cruz thanked the United States for helping to reform
the Philippine military. Operational readiness rates for
aircraft, ships, and trucks were up. Financial controls and
acquisition reforms were in place. The Department of
National Defense was preparing to submit its second
multi-year budget. The 10 key elements of the Philippine
Defense Reform (PDR) program had action plans developed,
including roadmaps for intelligence reform and information
operations. Cruz projected that the Philippine House would
approve the new National Defense Act by the end of the year.

¶8. (C) Cruz admitted that “We need to stay focused on what
we’re doing,” emphasizing that every AFP Chief of Staff from
General Abaya through General Esperon had been committed to
reform. He pointed to the 10 billion peso ($201 million)
allocation for mission essential equipment, saying that he
hoped the U.S. Foreign Military Sales process could be
accelerated to allow more rapid procurement.

¶9. (C) Cruz observed that young officers were realizing that
PDR was their future and they could contribute to it.
General Esperon commented that PDR had “caught fire” with his
soldiers, who wanted more of it. They were now attributing
anything good, such as combat lifesaver training and night
capable helicopters, to defense reform.

COMMITMENT TO RESOLVE QUESTION OF EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS
——————————————— ————

¶10. (C) Ambassador Kenney commended Cruz for his efforts
against extra-judicial killings. All allegations had to be
taken seriously and investigated, she urged. Cruz strongly
agreed, saying he adamantly opposed any such activity. “We
have to uphold the rule of law, and not just pay lip service
to it,” he said. There can be no short-cuts in
counterterrorism or counterinsurgency; that is the only way
to strengthen democratic society. Cruz stated he had sent
out a memo and talked to key commanders to emphasize that
extra-judicial killings were not national policy. Any one
found violating this order would be court-martialed. “I keep
telling people that this is the wrong thing to do,” he
stated, adding, “Some (unnamed) people in government
entertaining these ideas are now backtracking.” General
Esperon, while noting that some of the killings may have been
perpetrated by the Communists themselves, emphasized the
AFP’s support for the Melo Commission, at which he had
already testified. “It’s really a matter of winning hearts
and minds,” Esperon said.

MANILA 00004749 003 OF 003

¶11. (C) Secretary Romulo had separately raised the issue of
extra-judicial killings unprompted. He emphasized that his
government took the problem seriously, and was working to
solve it. Any official found to be involved would be held
accountable. Romulo noted that while the CPP/NPA was seeking
to blame the government, it was “deeply involved” in the
killings. Ambassador stressed that the Philippine government
should pursue a thoughtful process of investigation, which
held people accountable.

COMMENT
——-

¶12. (C) Romulo is likely to raise with the Secretary his
offer of “good offices” for Six Party Talks in Cebu. Cruz
has proven an exceptionally able and creative Secretary of
National Defense, who has been able to a large degree to
institutionalize defense reform. Expedited arms sales of
badly needed equipment for the Battalions of Excellence
program should help get further junior officer and the
rank-and-file support for reform. The Security Engagement
Board and “Kapit Bisig” counterterrorism framework linked to
it — two of Cruz’s most important legacies — are paying
tremendous dividends in ongoing operations on Jolo, and
should continue to do so in the future, no matter who is the
next Secretary of National Defense.

¶13. (U) Assistant Secretary Hillen has cleared this
telegram.

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

   

 

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