Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MANILA2232.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2232
2009-10-23 09:26
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8052
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2232/01 2960926
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 230926Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5506
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
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 002232

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID MARR RP
SUBJECT: DEFENSE SECRETARY ON DISASTER RELIEF, ARMED FORCES, PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

REF: A. MANILA 2071 (UPDATE ON FATAL IED ATTACK)
¶B. MANILA 1988 (RULING COALITION SELECTS TEODORO)
¶C. MANILA 2218 (ESTRADA ANNOUNCES PRESIDENTIAL RUN)

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In a private October 22 breakfast meeting
with the Ambassador, Philippine Defense Secretary and ruling
party presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro praised U.S.
disaster relief assistance, requested reconstruction funds,
and described the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as
stretched thin with conflict in Mindanao and relief efforts
across Luzon. He said he had not begun his presidential
campaign in earnest, having neither hired a campaign manager
nor raised significant funds. Teodoro has been an excellent
Defense Secretary and a good friend of the United States;
however, lagging in the polls, he will need to engage fully
in the campaign if he is to have any hope of catching his
rivals. End summary.

Disaster Relief
—————

¶2. (C) In a one-on-one breakfast meeting with the Ambassador
on October 22, Secretary of National Defense Teodoro said
that he is very pleased with U.S. assistance in the aftermath
of Tropical Storm Ketsana and Typhoon Parma, and effusively
praised the tireless relief efforts of U.S. military forces
participating in the Talon Vision PHIBLEX exercise —
particularly members of Third Marine Expeditionary Force (III
MEF) — and the superb coordinating role of the Mission’s
Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG). He said that
helicopters provided by the United Nations are now playing a
critical role, and that Japan is helpfully supplying fuel for
the flights. Teodoro said that, even as the government
prepares for the arrival of Typhoon Lupit, they are turning
their attention to the reconstruction effort and would
appreciate U.S. funding for these long-term projects.

¶3. (C) The Ambassador thanked Teodoro for his kind words
regarding the III MEF and JUSMAG and noted that USAID and
others had also made major contributions. She said that we
have done contingency planning for Lupit and believe that the
most likely need would be for U.S. airlift and medical
assistance. Those assets are currently in the Philippines
participating in Talon Vision PHIBLEX and we are delaying
their departure. Regarding reconstruction, the Ambassador
said, USAID will likely help with projects such as education,
but it is the multilateral development banks that normally
provide the vast majority of the funds for large-scale
reconstruction.

Armed Forces In Demand
———————-

¶4. (C) Teodoro said that the AFP is “stretched thin” in
confronting disaster relief in addition to armed groups in
Jolo and, in this light, it is very helpful that the
ceasefire with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is
holding. He is closely following the investigation into the
September 28 IED attack that killed two U.S. and one Filipino
servicemen (Ref A). Teodoro discussed internal AFP dynamics
at some length, noting that he did not agree with Western
Mindanao Commander Maj. Gen. Dolorfino’s decision to attack
rogue armed groups on Jolo on the eve of the Muslim holiday
of Eid al-Fitr. In contrast, Bg. Gen. Guerrero, Dolorfino’s
commander on Jolo, is doing a good job. He said that Lt.
Gen. Bangit, who is likely to be named Chief of Staff soon,
is a good officer who receives some unwarranted criticism.
At the same time, Teodoro said that he is concerned that
Bangit will put undeserving members of his Philippine
Military Academy (PMA) class into key positions. Turning
back to Jolo, Teodoro said that the overall situation on the
island remains very difficult and that, if elected president,
he would put a high priority on making progress there and
throughout Mindanao.

Presidential Campaign
———————

¶5. (C) Teodoro, who was named the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD
coalition’s candidate last month (Ref B), said that his
presidential campaign has not begun in earnest — despite the
fact the election is only seven months away. He has been
occupied with his work as Chairman of the National Disaster
Coordinating Council, and President Arroyo has been keeping
him busy with a variety of tasks. Teodoro said that he had
not yet named a manager or filled many other staff positions
for his campaign.

MANILA 00002232 002 OF 002

¶6. (C) Teodoro was optimistic that he would be able to raise
funds, saying that the big donors normally contribute to all
of the major candidates. He is hopeful that business tycoon
Danding Cojuangco (who is also his uncle) will come through
with a large donation but said, cryptically, that he is not
willing to “cut a deal” to ensure the financial support.
Teodoro viewed former President Joseph Estrada as competing
for votes primarily with Senator Manuel “Manny” Villar.
Although Teodoro is viewed as a hawk on the southern
insurgency, he denigrated Estrada’s call for an “all-out war”
on Mindanao as “outrageous” (Ref C).

¶7. (C) Teodoro said that, despite public expectations that
Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno would be
his running mate, Puno instead would likely reprise the role
he had played successfully for other candidates in the past,
as a campaign adviser. Teodoro’s other options for VP could
include President Arroyo’s political advisor Gabriel Claudio
(but, Teodoro said, he is easily manipulated); Senators
Francis Escudero or Loren Legarda (both of whom may seek the
Nationalist People’s Coalition presidential nomination, and
have ranked ahead of Teodoro in the polls); Cebu Governor
Gwen Garcia; and Senator Miguel Zubiri.

Comment
——-

¶8. (C) Teodoro has devoted his full energy and attention to
the exhaustive disaster relief efforts, receiving substantial
public exposure. Yet it is revealing that in the midst of
disaster relief and a presidential campaign, Teodoro stressed
to the Ambassador his disappointment that he could not travel
to the Golan Heights to participate in a ceremony for the
Philippine peacekeeping troops there, a personal interest of
his. Such comments and the slow pace of campaign
organization raise the question whether Teodoro, who said
that he will only seek the presidency once, is ambivalent
about running for President. While Teodoro is intellectually
gifted and the scion of an influential family, he appears
easily distracted so far from doing the kind of hard
campaigning — and hard deal-making — needed to get elected
president.
KENNEY

   

 

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