Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/11/08MANILA2621.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2621
2008-11-28 07:32
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1306
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2621/01 3330732
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 280732Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2543
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 3022
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002621

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL RP TH
SUBJECT: CABINET OFFICIALS DISTURBED BY THAI UPHEAVAL, BUT DON’T SEE PHILIPPINES FOLLOWING SUIT

REF: MANILA 2592: ARMED FORCES CHIEF ON PEACE AND
SECURITY

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: In conversations with the Ambassador,
President Arroyo’s most senior advisors voiced deep dismay at
the current political turmoil in Thailand, but believed that
the Philippines’ lively democracy would stay within
constitutional bounds. Defense Secretary Teodoro privately
criticized the Thai Army chief’s call for the Prime Minister
to step down, and praised the refusal of senior Philippine
military officers to get drawn into political maneuverings
here. He voiced some concern the Thai protests could
embolden anti-government groups here, but Foreign Secretary
Romulo and others were confident that Manila would not see
the kind of large-scale protests that have rocked Bangkok.
Romulo also noted that ASEAN members might have to reconsider
whether to hold their upcoming summit in Thailand, and
Teodoro suggested that the Thai Army chief might not be
invited to a planned regional defense chiefs event here. End
summary.

“OUTRAGEOUS” MILITARY INTERFERENCE
———————————-

¶2. (C) During a conversation with the Ambassador November 27,
Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro characterized
the current political situation in Thailand as “very
troubling” and said the Philippine government was watching
developments closely. Teodoro labeled as “outrageous” Thai
Army chief Anupong Paojinda’s call for the Prime Minister to
step down and said he was considering canceling the general’s
participation in an upcoming meeting for ASEAN army chiefs
hosted by the Philippines. He explained that the Department
of Foreign Affairs had publicly urged Filipinos to avoid
travel to Thailand and that the Philippine government was
working hard to get some 800 citizens stranded at the Bangkok
airport out of Thailand. He noted that a Philippine defense
under secretary had been stranded as well, and only got out
via Thai military C-130 to Singapore.

¶3. (C) The Ambassador commented to Teodoro that he should
be pleased with the lack of political involvement on the part
of the Philippine military during recent impeachment
maneuverings against President Arroyo, to which Teodoro
responded that indeed, the Philippine Armed Forces had shown
a high degree of professionalism in the face of political
pressure. Privately, however, Teodoro confided to the
Ambassador that he was concerned that opportunists in the
Philippines might be emboldened by the Thai protesters’
actions and call for massive street protests before Christmas
to oust President Arroyo.

APPALLING GOVERNMENT PARALYSIS
——————————

¶4. (C) In a private breakfast with the Ambassador Nov. 28,
Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said he was “appalled” by
the Thai government’s paralysis and wondered why the King had
not intervened to resolve the political impasse. Romulo
remarked that while Philippine politics was messy, opposition
politicians operated within the bounds of the law and
conducted peaceful and orderly protests that did not disrupt
commercial and civilian life. Romulo stressed his pride in
the Philippine military for their discipline in remaining out
of politics, as compared to the Thai military. On ASEAN
issues regarding Thailand, Romulo said that the unrest in
Thailand had led ASEAN ministers to discuss among themselves
the practicality of having their summit in Thailand, but that
no decision had been made yet.

ARMY CHIEF PLEDGES CONTINUED NONPOLITICAL STANCE
——————————————— —

¶5. (C) The Philippine’s top military officer publicly echoed
Teodoro’s and Romulo’s sentiments. Armed Forces Chief of
Staff General Alexander Yano told the press Nov. 27 that
Filipino soldiers would not mimic their Thai counterparts in
calling for a change in government. During an earlier
breakfast with the Ambassador Nov. 19 (reftel), General Yano
noted to the Ambassador that there had not been any recent
overt attempts by the opposition to co-opt the Philippine
military leadership, though he was frequently queried by key
figures on the military’s stance regarding Philippine
presidential politics. Stressing that this was a nuisance
more than a serious problem, Yano emphasized to the
Ambassador that the military was avoiding such distractions,
but that they underscored the persistent desire of a minority

MANILA 00002621 002 OF 002

to involve the armed forces in the political process.

CHANGED ENVIRONMENT
——————-

¶6. (C) Other key lieutenants of President Arroyo sought to
alleviate any concern that a Thai-style upheaval could hit
the Philippines. National Security Advisor Norberto Gonzales
told the press Nov. 27 that protests similar to the on-going
demonstrations in Thailand will not occur against President
Arroyo, and stated his belief that Arroyo would finish out
her term, scheduled to end in 2010. Gonzales made the
statement one day after the Philippine House of
Representatives junked the fourth and latest impeachment
attempt against President Arroyo. And in a further sign of
how Philippine politics has evolved in recent years, Senate
President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Gregorio Honasan, who
had leading military roles in the ouster of former President
Marcos in 1986 and attempted coups against President Aquino
in the late 80’s, publicly downplayed speculation that
another coup could happen in the Philippines.
JONES

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.