Oct 092014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06MANILA5003.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA5003 2006-12-14 09:43 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO4874
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #5003/01 3480943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 140943Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4275
RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005003

SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USDA/FAS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EAID EAGR RP
SUBJECT: DCM SPOTLIGHTS U.S. PROGRAMS IN PROSPEROUS PROVINCIAL CAPITAL

¶1. SUMMARY. Deputy Chief of Mission Paul Jones visited Iloilo
City, the relatively prosperous capital of pastoral Iloilo province
on the Visayan island of Panay, December 7-8. He toured a U.S.
Department of Agriculture funded dairy plant which supplies milk to
more than 2,000 undernourished children daily, visited an emergency
shelter for exploited children, talked to university students, and
met with local religious and political leaders. The visit received
significant local media coverage, including multiple television and
radio interviews. END SUMMARY.

¶2. The DCM began his trip to Iloilo City with a Q&A session at
Central Philippines University (CPU), the site of an American
Studies Resource Center (ASRC). CPU was founded by American Baptist
missionaries, who led the university until the 1960s. At the ASRC,
twenty-five CPU students participated in an informal dialogue with
the DCM, who fielded questions on North Korea, USAID programs in
Mindanao, and USG-funded HIV/AIDS programs. Many of the students
expressed their interest in seeking employment in the United States,
inquiring about nursing exams and graduate programs.

¶3. The DCM visited the impressive Tigbuan Dairy Processing Plant 20
miles outside Iloilo City – an unusual operation in a country where
the benefits of dairy farming are largely unknown. In FY 2006, the
USDA donated more than one million dollars to the Philippine
National Dairy Authority to purchase 400 dairy cows from New Zealand
and to construct a modern milk processing plant at this site. Local
farmers earn additional livelihood by selling raw milk to the plant
and more than 2,000 elementary school students receive free milk
each day, substantially improving their health and increasing their
performance in school. This program has been similarly successful
in other provinces, with more than 106,000 students receiving free
milk each year. This program has been relatively low-profile, with
few people aware of it, even in Iloilo City. USDA is planning to
publicize it more vigorously in 2007 as an example of USG efforts to
improve health, livelihood, and education in the Philippines.

¶4. Counselors at the Visayan Forum Foundation Kasambahay Center, an
anti-child-trafficking program, introduced the DCM to more than a
dozen of their current and former clients during a tour of the
facility. The Center cooperates with local police and social
workers to provide emergency shelter and counseling to exploited
children, both abused domestic workers and those seeking to escape
the sex industry. The Center helps them return to their homes or to
find better living and employment conditions where they can also
continue their education. The Visayan Forum Foundation, the
recipient of ongoing USAID ($430,000) and State ($130,000)
anti-trafficking grants and frequent partner in USG anti-trafficking
efforts, provides the funding for the Center.

¶5. The DCM met with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo as a follow-up to a
breakfast meeting hosted by the Ambassador in July 2006. Archbishop
Lagdameo is the current president of the Catholic Bishops Conference
of the Philippines (CBCP) and an outspoken opponent of President
Arroyo’s administration. Lagdameo vigorously explained the Catholic
Bishops Conference continued opposition to ongoing administration
initiative to change the current bicameral legislature to a
unicameral parliamentary body (frequently called charter change.)
The Archbishop was much less engaging on the moral aspects of
trafficking in persons, which the DCM raised in the context of his
visit to the Kasambahay Center. The Ambassador and DCM had a
similar experience with Lagdameo last July, and will continue to
press the issue with him and other religious leaders.

¶6. Iloilo Provincial Governor Neil Tupas, during the DCM’s courtesy
call on December 8, attributed Iloilo’s relative affluence and
prosperity to the remittances and investment from the region’s many
seafarers and overseas contract workers. He credited Iloilo’s low
crime rate to low unemployment and a diversified regional economy.
Tupas commented that extrajudicial killings and New Peoples Army
activities in the region are extremely rare. Along with other
interlocutors, he cited the high cost of power and frequent
brownouts as bars to new investment in Iloilo. Politicians hope to
build a new coal-fired power plant but face strong opposition from
church leadership. Tupas volunteered that he broke with President
Arroyo together with his Iloilo political ally, former Senate
President Frank Drillon, in the summer of 2005. Tupas shared that
just prior to a birthday party attended by President Arroyo the day
before the DCM’s visit, all of the mayors and governors in
attendance were asked to sign a statement of their support for
charter change; Tupas was the lone hold-out.

¶7. Press coverage of the visit was widespread, with a picture and
article on the DCM’s anti-trafficking center visit on the front page
of the local paper the following morning. The DCM also participated
in a live radio interview on the most popular lunchtime show in the
region (95% penetration) and in two taped television interviews for
the only networks with local news programming. During these
interviews, the DCM spotlighted U.S. programs, interest and

MANILA 00005003 002 OF 002

investment in the region, particularly the USDA-funded dairy
program. In response to questions about the recently concluded
Marine trial, he recapped the benefits to the Philippines from the
Visiting Forces Agreement, and expressed our hope that the
Philippine government would live up to its obligations.

KENNEY

   

 

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