Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
DE RUEHML #2645/01 2180941
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060941Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7741
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 2251
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 6170
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI IMMEDIATE 6357
UNCLAS MANILA 002645
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP AMGT ASEC AFIN CH TH VM RP
SUBJECT: COUNTRY CLEARANCE FOR CODEL REYES, AUGUST 23-25, 2007
REF: STATE 107079
¶1. (U) Embassy Manila welcomes and grants country clearance
to the Congressional Delegation (CODEL) led by U.S.
Representative Silverstre Reyes of the House Permanent Select
Committee on Intelligence, for an August 23-25 visit to the
Philippines. Control officer is Political Counselor Tom
Gibbons (Phone: 63-2-522-3566; Fax: 63-2-523-1195; Cell
phone: 63-920-960-4407; E-mail: GibbonsTB@state.gov).
Political Officer Barry Fullerton will also assist with this
visit (Phone: 63-2-522-3566; Fax: 63-2-523-1195; Cell phone:
63-918-948-6493; E-mail: FullertonTB@state.gov).
¶2. (U) Specific details regarding transportation, hotel, and
the schedule of meetings will be sent to the CODEL
points-of-contact via e-mail.
¶3. (U) Please be advised that world events may lead to rapid
changes in the local security environment, necessitating
last-minute cancellations of country clearances.
¶4. (U) Terrorism: The terrorist threat to American citizens
in the Philippines remains high. The Embassy continues to
receive reports of ongoing activities and of planned multiple
attacks throughout the Philippines by known terrorist groups.
The Embassy urges visitors to observe vigilant personal
security precautions, to remain aware of the continued
potential for terrorist attacks against Americans, and U.S.
or other Western interests in the Philippines.
The Philippine government has been engaged on and off in
negotiations with Communist and Muslim rebel groups.
Nonetheless, rebel activity and armed banditry in certain
areas of the Philippines still pose security concerns. The
Communist Party of the Philippines and its terrorist military
arm, the New People’s Army, operate throughout the country
and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and
interests in the Philippines. Americans are urged to exercise
caution when traveling throughout the country and are
specifically warned to avoid hiking or camping in the
vicinity of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.
In Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, kidnappings, bombings,
violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in
many areas. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which the U.S.
Government has designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization,
has kidnapped several Americans and other foreign tourists
since April 2000. Some were freed after substantial ransoms
were paid, some escaped or were rescued by military action,
and some were killed. Other kidnapping gangs operate in the
same general area and have abducted a number of foreigners
Operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which the U.S.
Government has also designated a Foreign Terrorist
Organization, are also present in the Philippines. JI is an
extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional
terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast
Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated a
capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations
where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not
distinguish between official and civilian targets.
U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk of
terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups
in the Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for
possible terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities
or personnel, public and private institutions, and
transportation carriers. The Embassy takes all such threats
seriously. The RSO reminds all visitors to remain vigilant
with regard to personal security issues and always to follow
basic and important security countermeasures: do not
establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary
the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a
low profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to
include possible surveillance, to the RSO. In light of recent
events, the State Department urges all visitors to maintain a
high level of vigilance and to increase their security
awareness when traveling throughout the Philippines. All
visitors are urged to review the State Department’s most
recent Public Announcement on the Philippines. Due to the
United States’ efforts in the ongoing War Against Terrorism,
the potential for retaliatory acts against Americans
worldwide is real.
¶5. (U) Crime: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in
the United States, crime is a serious concern in Metro
Manila. As a rule of thumb, visitors are advised to exercise
good judgment and remain aware of their surroundings. Reports
of confidence games, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are
common. Be wary of unknown individuals who attempt to
befriend you, especially just after you have arrived in
country. A number of recent robberies and assaults involving
the “date rape drug” (known locally as Ativan) have occurred;
the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and
female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept
food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even
if they appear legitimate. There have been several
kidnappings and violent assaults of foreigners in the Metro
Manila area, although Americans have not been specifically
targeted in such crimes. There have also been reports of
gunmen robbing foreign passengers in vehicles traveling to
and from the international airport.
¶6. (U) Taxis are the recommended form of public
transportation. However, the following safeguards are
important: do not enter a taxi if it has already accepted
another passenger; and, request that the meter be used. If
the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it is
best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make
a mental note of the license plate number should there be a
problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the
doors are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms
of public transportation, such as the light rail system,
buses, and “jeepneys,” should be avoided for both safety and
¶7. (U) Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit
cards. One common form of credit card fraud involves the
illicit use of an electronic device to retrieve and record
information, including the PIN, from the card’s magnetic
strip. The information is then used to make unauthorized
purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this scam, never
let your card out of your sight. A continuing problem is the
commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek
negotiation of fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors should be
wary when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or
U.S. securities for sale or negotiation. Common sense is the
rule of thumb.
¶8. (U) Travel: Before traveling to the Philippines, we urge
you to visit the State Department’s web site at www.state.gov
for the latest security and travel information. All visitors
should defer travel to isolated beach resorts and avoid
personal travel to the islands of Mindanao and Sulu
Archipelago. The RSO must approve all official travel to
these islands in advance.
¶9. (U) If you have additional security-related questions, you
may contact the RSO either through your control officer or
directly at (632) 528-6300, ext 2290, (632) 522-2337 (FAX),
or at RSOmanila@state.gov.