Oct 272014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06MANILA4977.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4977 2006-12-13 08:45 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO3643
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4977/01 3470845
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130845Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4254
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004977

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
FOR PEACE CORPS, USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ECON ETRD EINV EAID PGOV CVIS MASS SCUL KPAO
RP
SUBJECT: BAGUIO WELCOMES US AID, INVESTMENT, AND INTEREST DURING AMBASSADOR’S VISIT

REF: MANILA 4954

¶1. SUMMARY: The signing of a USAID-funded healthcare grant and a
speech at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) anchored the
Ambassador’s fourth visit to Baguio, the former summer capital of
the Philippines under U.S. administration. Visits to a local
American company and conversations with local leaders emphasized
Baguio’s importance as a commercial, educational and military hub
for the Philippines, but also highlighted common local concerns
about unchecked growth and infrastructure strain. END SUMMARY.

¶2. The Ambassador visited Baguio December 8-9, returning to the
former summer capital of the Philippines during American government.
Baguio remains the Philippine Presidential retreat, and its
plethora of universities and corporations ensures that Baguio, now a
city of 300,000 people, is a frequent stop for Filipinos from all
segments of society. The surrounding province of Benguet is the
agricultural pantry for metropolitan Manila and an important mining
area; Baguio is the administrative capital for the Cordillera
Administrative Region, home to many indigenous tribes. The Embassy
maintains a facility in Baguio, and USG involvement centers on
frequent visits to PMA, Peace Corps volunteers working in education,
and USAID assistance, primarily focused on health care and
environmental protection. The Embassy has also created American
Corners in the Baguio City Public Library and the PMA library, and
an American Studies Resource Center at St. Louis University, and
frequently sends visiting speakers to those institutions. American
companies, including Texas Instruments (see para 7) and Moog
Controls, have taken advantage of the educated workforce and the
special export processing zones to locate high-quality manufacturing
centers in Baguio.

—————————————–
CONTINUED USG SUPPORT FOR SOCIAL SERVICES
—————————————–

¶3. The Ambassador kicked off her visit December 8 by witnessing the
signing of a 3.6 million peso (approximately USD 72,800) grant from
USAID’s Private Sector Mobilization for Family Health (PRISM)
project to two Baguio grantees, the Baguio Center for Young Adults
(BCYA) and the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI). The two
grantees will use the funding to help ten Baguio companies set up
workplace health programs focusing on maternal, child and family
health, and provide micro-finance services to 50 midwives to expand
their practices and educate clients in family and reproductive
health. The grant signing continued USAID support for both BCYA and
JVOFI; BCYA was founded in 1985 by a USAID grant, and JVOFI
transitioned from a corporate-funded institution to a private
foundation with the assistance of USAID funding.

————————————
TURBULENT POLITICS AND GROWING PAINS
————————————

¶4. In a December 8 meeting, Baguio Bishop Carlito Cenzon described
for the Ambassador the one-year suspension of the mayor in June 2006
for advocating a citizen rebellion against a for-profit
pay-for-parking scheme that was embroiled in accusations of
corruption. The acting mayor, Cenzon observed, was honest but “too
young” to accomplish anything in the year he will serve in office.
Cenzon outlined a role for himself as the “honest broker” who can
mediate between feuding local parties, hewing to a traditional role
for the Filipino clergy.

¶5. Cenzon noted that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the
Philippines (CBCP) had charged all Bishops with rallying their
flocks against the proposed constituent assembly to revise the
Philippine Constitution (reftel). Cenzon said that he had planned a
prayer rally, but worried that other protestors might be more
“violent.” Cenzon’s most pressing concerns were the general apathy
among citizens to get involved in civic life, unemployment, and a
growing black market economy, which he blamed on recent Muslim
immigrants to the region.

¶6. Finally, Cenzon noted that Baguio City had just kicked off its
1000-day centennial celebration, to culminate in 2009, and suggested
that the USG should participate in (and possibly help fund) the
festivities in light of US involvement in Baguio’s founding. Guests
at the Ambassador’s residence for dinner on December 8, including
Congressman Mauricio Domogan and Acting Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr.
seconded the Bishop’s request for Embassy participation in the
centennial celebrations, and confirmed his observation that
unemployment was a pressing issue. Environmental degradation,
overpopulation, and inadequate infrastructure rounded out their top
concerns for Baguio residents. The local leaders and businesspeople
present suggested increased Consular outreach in Baguio to demystify
the visa process and facilitate business and educational travel to

MANILA 00004977 002 OF 002

the United States.

—————————————
US FIRMS FIND BAGUIO IDEAL FOR BUSINESS
—————————————

¶7. The management of Texas Instruments (Philippines), Inc. (TIPI)
briefed the Ambassador on their Baguio operations and showed her
TIPI’s USD 1 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in the
Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) located in Baguio. TIPI
employs approximately 2,300 local employees (counting only three
expatriate Americans among its staff), and has become the
Philippines’ largest exporter, with a 2005 export value of USD 2.9
billion. TIPI management noted that the high education levels and
good English skills of local employees, and the low-tax regime in
the PEZA, help make TIPI the highest-productivity overseas plant for
Texas Instruments. TIPI officials stated that they had no problems
to report, and are currently expanding their manufacturing
facilities to fully utilize the available space in the PEZA. Steven
Leece, the Managing Director of Moog Controls Corp. Philippines,
attending the Ambassador’s dinner on December 8, echoed TI’s
satisfaction with its location in the Philippines, noting that Moog
hopes to double its facilities in the PEZA in the coming year.

——————–
EAGER MEDIA COVERAGE
——————–

¶8. The Ambassador taped a television interview with ABS-CBN News on
December 8 and visited DZWX Bombo Radyo on December 9 for a live
interview. In both interviews, the Ambassador highlighted the
strong relationship between the two nations, USG assistance to
Baguio and the surrounding region through Peace Corps and USAID
projects, and the employment benefits of American companies in the
area. The interviewers reiterated local interest in USG
participation in Baguio’s centennial celebrations, and discussed the
ongoing controversy over the continued detention of a U.S. Marine in
a Philippine prison in violation of the U.S.-Philippines Visiting
Forces Agreement (VFA). During media interactions at the
Ambassador’s public events, the Ambassador expressed hope that the
Marine would be returned to U.S. military custody at the American
Embassy, consistent with GRP and USG agreement on this issue.

——————————————— —
TROOPING THE LINE AT PHILIPPINE MILITARY ACADEMY
——————————————— —

¶9. Philippine Military Academy Superintendent MGEN Leopoldo
Maligalig and PMA staff briefed the Ambassador on December 9 about
ongoing reforms to modernize PMA’s curriculum and facilities to
better prepare Cadets for leadership roles in the Armed Forces of
the Philippines (AFP). Maligalig said that AFP reform efforts,
strongly supported by JUSMAG Philippines, can “only go up,” and that
all PMA staff have adopted as a joint vision the ten-year Philippine
Defense Reform roadmap signed last year by the Defense Secretary.
Maligalig observed that he was drawing heavily on practices and
curriculum of the United States Military Academy and the United
States Naval Academy, adding that joint training and educational
exchanges with US military institutions have been crucial to his
reform efforts.

¶10. Following the briefing and tour, PMA hosted the Ambassador as
its Honored Guest at the end-of-term Cadet parade, and she addressed
the Cadets and media at a formal speech following the parade. In
her remarks, the Ambassador emphasized the vital role of the AFP in
meeting terrorist, natural disaster, disease, and community-building
challenges in the Philippines, and exhorted the Cadets to fulfill
their roles as military leaders honorably under a constitutional
system of civilian control.

KENNEY

   

 

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