Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/05/05MANILA2335.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2335 2005-05-20 08:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MANILA 002335

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/PMBS
NSC FOR GREEN
DOD/ISA/AP FOR ALLEN
SEOUL FOR ERIC JOHN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2015
TAGS: MOPS MARR PREL PINS PTER CH RP
SUBJECT: DEFENSE SECRETARY MAKES STRONG PUBLIC CASE FOR PDR

REF: A. MANILA 1960
¶B. MANILA 2112

Classified By: (U) Political Officer Paul O’Friel
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (U) SUMMARY. In a major speech at the prestigious Manila
Overseas Press Club, Secretary of National Defense Cruz made
a strong public pitch for Philippine Defense Reform (PDR),
saying it would allow the Philippines to defeat the multiple
insurgencies and terrorist threats facing the country. In
the subsequent Q&A session, Cruz said Philippine military
exchanges with China were a natural part of warming relations
between the two countries. He viewed the Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA) as a “valid legal mechanism” for
counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. While
open to case-by-case cooperation on specific counterterrorism
scenarios, Cruz said the Philippines needed to exercise
“sovereign judgment” in determining what was best for the
nation’s security. He had short shrift for any talk of
coups. The AFP is loyal to President Arroyo and will defend
the Constitution, Cruz stated. END SUMMARY.

$366 MILLION EFFORT FOCUSED ON TEN KEY AREAS
——————————————–

¶2. (U) In a May 18 address to a packed audience of
journalists, diplomats, business executives, and government
officials at the prestigious Manila Overseas Press Club,
Secretary of National Defense Avelino Cruz said his vision

SIPDIS
was to transform the Philippine defense establishment into a
more effective institution by undertaking a series of
comprehensive, systematic reforms. Demonstrating a masterful
display of facts, figures, and arguments, Cruz — backed up
by separate presentations by Assistant Secretary for Defense
Reform Roberto Nuqui and Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Ariston De Los Reyes
— laid out a compelling justification for PDR, promising
that it would allow the Philippines to defeat the multiple
insurgencies and terrorist threats facing the country in 6-10
years. PDR, budgeted at 4 billion pesos per year for five
years (totaling approximately $366 million) — over and above
the regular defense budget — would focus on ten key areas:

— Implementation of a multi-year defense planning system
(MYDPS);
— Improvement of AFP operations and training;
— Improved logistics capability;
— Better staff development;
— Development of an effective AFP personnel management
system;
— Implementation of a separately funded Capability Upgrade
Program (CUP) for the AFP;
— Improved defense budget system and management controls;
— Creation of a centralized defense acquisition system and
staff;
— Enhancement of the AFP’s civil military operations; and
— Development of accurate baseline data on critical AFP
functional areas.

A RESOURCE-DRIVEN PROCESS
————————-

¶3. (U) Having issued the first-ever multi-year Defense
Planning Guidance in December 2004, Cruz said he wanted to
use multi-year planning to establish a resource-driven
process, in which all defense budget proposals would be
evaluated according to need.

INDIVIDUAL AND UNIT TRAINING A MUST
———————————–

¶4. (U) Operations and training were important to PDR’s
success. Pointing to the AFP training backlog (Note: Some
battalions have not undergone any training in over 10 years.
End Note), Cruz emphasized that individual and unit training
is a must. His goal was to train 12 infantry battalions each
year, using Ft. Magsaysay as a National Training Center,
supported by two regional training centers in the Visayas and
Mindanao.

LOGISTICS FOCUSED ON OPERATIONAL READINESS
——————————————
¶5. (U) The logistics effort would focus on improved
operational readiness and reliability rates for key mobility
and combat systems: trucks; aircraft; helicopters; patrol
craft; and M105 howitzers. Cruz’s target is a 70-percent
mission capable rate.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT TACKLES FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES
——————————————–

¶6. (U) Cruz said he intends to recruit 90 hand-picked
civilian university graduates to run the PDR’s defense
resource management and defense acquisitions programs.
Broader personnel management improvements would target
recruitment, assignments, promotion, tenure of key officers,
military justice, separation, and retirement.

¶7. (U) Legislation mandating a three-year tenure for the AFP
Chief of Staff had passed the Senate and was under
consideration in the House, Cruz noted. Pending legislation,
Cruz said he would require the incoming Chief of Staff (the
incumbent, General Efren Abu, will retire June 24) to develop
a succession plan that would ensure a smooth transition in
the leadership of the AFP, services, and combatant commands.
He intends to ensure that the next Superintendent of the
Philippine Military Academy (PMA) — the Filipino equivalent
of West Point — would serve a full three-year tour in order
institute and see through needed reforms.

CAPABILITY UPGRADE PROGRAM (CUP)
TARGETS CRITICAL INTERNAL SECURITY NEEDS
—————————————-

¶8. (U) The CUP would be divided into 6, 12, and 18-year
segments, with the first two periods focusing on internal
security needs: mobility; firepower; communications; and
intelligence. Cruz said he had persuaded Department of
Budget and Management Secretary Boncodin to begin releasing
in January 2005 470 million pesos (approximately $8.6
million) each month into the Modernization Trust Fund to
allow the AFP to begin badly needed equipment acquisitions.
Cruz hoped to fund the CUP at 5 billion pesos a year
(approximately $91 million) for the first six years, 10
billion pesos a year (approximately $183 million) for the
next six, with funding increasing to 20 billion pesos a year
(approximately $366 million) for the last six years as the
AFP’s mission transitioned from internal security to
territorial defense. Fifteen percent of acquisition costs
would be set aside for maintenance, to ensure equipment could
be maintained and supported over its life cycle.

¶9. (U) Equipment acquisition would occur within a new
environment governed by improved financial controls and a
professional acquisition work force. Cruz noted he had
reduced the number of acquisition panels from 119 to a single
Bids and Awards Committee co-chaired by the AFP Vice Chief of
Staff and the DND Undersecretary for Acquisition.

AMBITIOUS CIVIL MILITARY PROGRAM PLANNED
—————————————-

¶10. (U) Cruz plans an ambitious civil military operations
program entitled “Kalayaan” (“Freedom”) that would provide
roads, water, electricity, and schools to 500 at-risk
barangays (communities) each year, with the objective of
re-establishing the link between the people and the
government in areas controlled by the insurgents.

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT NETWORK ENVISIONED
—————————————–

¶11. (U) Tying all the above elements together would be an
information management network. Cruz admitted, however, that
he had still had not found the right Chief Information
Officer for the job.

QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES ON CRUZ’S AGENDA, TOO
———————————————

¶12. (U) Cruz said he also intends to use PDR to address
quality of life issues. He plans a pilot project in June
2005 that would begin to tackle the problem of enlisted and
officer housing. The AFP has identified excess property at
one of its camps on which it will build through a
public-private partnership 100 homes for troops and their
families. If this template succeeds, Cruz said he would
replicate it at other camps. He plans as well to develop
legislation creating a new matching pension fund for
soldiers, which Senator Biazon, a former AFP Chief of Staff,
has promised to sponsor.

CALL FOR JOURNALISTS TO SUPPORT PDR
———————————–

¶13. (U) Cruz called on journalists to support PDR, asking
them to report on it factually. PDR would help people regain
their faith in the nation and unite them in a common cause.
“Help us find solutions,” Cruz asked, saying the AFP was
transforming while performing its missions.

COUNTING THE SUCCESSES
———————-

¶14. (U) Speaking separately from Cruz, Assistant Secretary
for Defense Reform Roberto Nuqui listed PDR successes thus
far:

— Issuance of the first-ever Defense Planning Guidance;
— Creation of a single Bids and Awards Committee;
— Streamlining of the AFP “J” staff, including abolishment
of the comptroller position (J6) and the consequent
reassignment of 500 personnel from headquarters slots to
operational units;
— Ending the practice of “conversion,” or off-budget
expenditures;
— Establishment of the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG)
as the AFP’s elite counterterrorism unit;
— Increased operational readiness rates for C-130 aircraft
and UH-1H helicopters;
— Training 15 senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) at US
NCO schools in Hawaii to as the core cadre of the AFP’s NCO
Academy;
— Training 3,000 soldiers in combat lifesaving skills, with
procurement of individual medical kits underway;
— Training four Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopter pilots
in night flying skills;
— Initial development of an aero-medical evacuation
capability; and
— Development of a forward medical service support unit,
which will be deployed to Jolo in later 2004.

¶15. (U) Several themes figured in Nuqui’s presentation:

— “Defense capability is a national investment;”
— “Realistic, systematic, and strategic reforms;”
— “Simplification is the key to efficiency;” and
— “Strategic partnerships contribute to operational
capacities.”

Nuqui stressed that the AFP/DND partnership for reform was
strong, and based on the principles of transparency and
accountability, with quantitative measures of success. The
support of US experts had been key to the process. Policy
and legislation were needed to institutionalize the reforms,
Nuqui stated, adding that the DND was preparing a new
National Defense Act to replace the nearly 70-years old
existing defense legislation.

Q&A:
CHINA DEFENSE TALKS
“LOGICAL OFFSHOOT” TO WARMING RELATIONS
—————————————

¶16. (U) In the following Q&A session, Cruz deftly fielded
some hard questions from journalists. Asked whether the
Philippines was “playing the China card” in its military
exchanges with Beijing, Cruz said the developing ties, which
included the upcoming visit in late May of PLA Chief of the
General Staff Liang Guanglie, were a “logical offshoot” to
the warming relations between the two countries. The
objective, Cruz stated, was to open lines of communication.
He suggested the Chinese-Filipino security dialogue might
include disaster management and anti-terrorism, adding that
the GRP hoped to use the PRC’s promised $1.2 million
engineering equipment grant for the “Kalayaan” road building
program.

VFA VALID “LEGAL MECHANISM”
FOR COUNTERTERRORISM COOPERATION
——————————–

¶17. (U) Cruz rejected any call to alter the US-Philippines
Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which continued to serve its
purpose. “It worked in the past; it works now,” he stated.
While the GRP was studying the possibility of pursuing
multilateral treaties with ASEAN members, Australia, and the
United States on such issues as counterterrorism,
transnational crime, and disaster relief, the Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA) provided a “valid legal mechanism” for
counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, Cruz
stated. While open, within the framework of the Philippine
Constitution, to case-by-case cooperation on specific
counterterrorism scenarios, Cruz said the Philippines needed
to exercise its “sovereign judgment” in determining what is
best for the AFP and the nation’s security.

SHORT SHRIFT FOR COUP TALK
————————–

¶18. (U) Cruz had short shrift for talk of coups. He
believed former defense secretary, retired General Fortunato
Abat, and other ex-generals had no support within the AFP.
The AFP is loyal to the President, he stated, adding, “I’m
highly confident the senior leadership believes in defending
the Constitution.” Implementing PDR and the CUP, which
addressed the recommendations of the Feliciano Commission
Report following the July 2003 mutiny, would serve as the
best antidote for “alternatives outside the Constitution” and
“ideas that don’t work.”

CONDEMNATION OF ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS
————————————–

¶19. (U) Asked to condemn the recent spate of attacks against
journalists in the Philippines, Cruz unequivocally stated
that the killing of journalists had no place either in the
rule of law or a democracy. “Journalists are not enemies of
the state,” he said.

STATUS QUO UNACCEPTABLE
———————–

¶20. (U) Challenged on his promise to end the insurgencies in
the Philippines within 10 years, Cruz forcefully stated that
the status quo was unacceptable. “If we want to be part of
the 21st Century, we have to end this drag on our economic
growth,” he said.

COMMENT
——-

¶21. (C) Cruz was in top form, with a demonstrated command of
the intricacies of defense reform. Although he discussed PDR
with reporters during one of President Arroyo’s press
conferences a few months ago, the May 18 presentation was
clearly a well thought through effort at strategic
communications to educate Manila’s elite on the reform
program and build support for it. Cruz appears to have his
hand firmly on the pulse of the AFP. According to his chief
aide, Undersecretary for Legal and Special Concerns Rodel
Cruz, Cruz regularly meets with the senior AFP leadership,
and we will follow with interest how he influences the choice
of the next AFP Chief of Staff, who will be key to
implementing PDR.

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

   

 

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