Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/03/07MANILA809.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA809 2007-03-13 00:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO3142
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0809/01 0720010
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130010Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5636
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000809

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, PM, INR/EAP, 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: 03/13/2017
TAGS: PINR MARR PREL RP
SUBJECT: DEFENSE SECRETARY EBDANE — AN ARROYO LOYALIST IN A KEY POSITION

REF: MANILA 0359

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. New National Defense Secretary Hermogenes
“Jun” Ebdane lacks the sophistication and polish of his
predecessor, Avelino Cruz. Nonetheless, he is a committed
Arroyo loyalist whom many believe President Arroyo
hand-picked to “manage” the 2007 Congressional elections
before returning to his previous portfolio as Secretary for
Public Works. Ebdane appears to have the support of the
senior leadership of the Department of National Defense and
Philippine military, with little detectable grumbling in the
ranks. Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Esperon is likely
to provide the continuity for defense reform and
counterterrorism cooperation. END SUMMARY.

LACKLUSTER BUT LOYAL
——————–

¶2. (C) Tongue-tied and reticent, Defense Secretary
Hermogenes Ebdane stands in stark contrast to his articulate
and sophisticated predecessor, Avelino “Nonong” Cruz.
However, whatever he may lack in polish, Ebdane makes up in
“pull” with President Arroyo — he is now serving in his
third major cabinet position since stepping down as head of
the Philippine National Police (PNP) in August 2004. Despite
a lackluster tenure as PNP Director General, which witnessed
the embarrassing escape of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Rohman
Fathur al-Ghozi from the PNP’s Camp Crame Headquarters,
Ebdane went on to serve as National Security Advisor and then
Secretary of Public Works and Highways.

SIPDIS

¶3. (C/NF) According to Department of National Defense
Undersecretary for Legal and Special Concerns Ricardo
Blancaflor, Ebdane is close to Secretary of the Interior and
Local Government (and leader of President Arroyo’s political
party KAMPI) Ronaldo Puno as well as Enrique “Ricky” Razon,
the CEO of International Container Terminal Services, two of
President Arroyo’s largest and staunchest financial backers.
An Arroyo loyalist, Ebdane found his name prominently
featured in the “Hello Garci” tapes scandal from the
controversial 2004 elections. Many believe he helped
then-Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcilliano go into
hiding at the peak of the controversy.

“STILL IN THE RECEIVE MODE”
—————————

¶4. (C) Ebdane has admitted to the Ambassador and other
Embassy officials that he is “still in the receive mode” and
reading-in to his new job, which he assumed on February 1,
¶2007. At one point he joked that he was “in information
overload.” Ebdane has stressed his support for Philippine
Defense Reform, but in meetings accompanied by Armed Forces
Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon, he has allowed
Esperon to take the lead in describing the program. In an
initial conversation with the Ambassador, Ebdane on his own
volition brought up the issue of unlawful killings, noting
that he had proposed to Executive Secretary Ermita that the
Philippines request U.S. forensic assistance in investigating
the murders.

¶5. (C) Rumors abound that Ebdane’s tenure may not extend
much beyond the May 2007 Congressional and local elections.
President Arroyo has still not named a new Public Works
Secretary, fueling speculation that he may return to his

SIPDIS
former cabinet post once he has “managed” the elections for
the Administration to ensure that its candidates win enough
seats to avoid a successful impeachment motion again this
year.

CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH GENERAL ESPERON
—————————————

¶6. (C) Despite strident criticism of Ebdane by some senior
military leaders privately (and leaked to the press) before
his appointment, most top officers now appear willing to
accept him, and he appears to have a good — in fact, even

MANILA 00000809 002 OF 002

close — relationship with General Esperon. Many have
expressed appreciation that he is speeding up procurement,
which his predecessor had tried to regulate more carefully.
He is a Philippine Military Academy classmate of
Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, the champion for the Defense
Reform effort, whom he recently also named as spokesman for
the Department of National Defense. Private views of
Department of National Defense staff vary. According to one
Undersecretary, Ebdane is a “good guy,” while another
considers him “at best mediocre.” We see no indication that
Ebdane’s appointment has provoked discontent among junior or
mid-grade officers, much less the rank-and-file.

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) Ebdane was far from the best choice President Arroyo
could have made to succeed former Secretary Cruz. He is
clearly no intellect, but a through-and-through loyalist, a
quality that the president, who only a year ago faced down a
coup attempt, treasures. We expect few innovations from
Ebdane. We will continue to focus our efforts on promoting
and institutionalizing defense reform, and strengthening and
deepening our counterterrorism cooperation. In both these
areas, we have a strong ally in General Esperon.

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

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.