Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MANILA2408.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2408
2009-11-18 08:36
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2408/01 3220836
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O 180836Z NOV 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5817
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002408

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2029
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR RP
SUBJECT: DEFENSE SECRETARY RESIGNS, REPLACED BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR GONZALEZ

REF: MANILA 1988 (RULING COALITION SELECTS SECDEF
TEODORO)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: On November 16, Secretary of National
Defense Teodoro resigned in order to focus on his campaign
for President. Norberto “Bert” Gonzalez will serve as Acting
Secretary until the presidential transition in June 2010, and
is likely to continue to serve concurrently in his current
position as National Security Advisor. Gonzalez is a*xz-QDs run for President in the May 2010 election.
Teodoro had been selected as the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD
party’s candidate in September (Reftel).

¶3. (U) President Arroyo named Norberto “Bert” Gonzalez to
serve as Acting SND until the newly-elected President takes
office in June 2010. A Palace spokesman said that, “There
are many reforms being undertaken for the Armed Forces since
the President assumed office. The President expects that
(Gonzalez) will continue to implement those reforms within
the Armed Forces and the different civilian agencies of the
Department of National Defense.”

¶4. (U) Gonzalez, who also served as Officer-in-Charge of the
Department of National Defense for approximately one month in
July-August 2007, is likely to continue to serve concurrently
in his current position as National Security Advisor. He has
previously served as Presidential Chief of Staff (2004-2005)
and Presidential Advisor for Special Concerns (2001-2004).
For additional biographic information, please see para. 10.

Reactions to Gonzalez Appointment
———————————

¶5. (C) Reactions to Gonzalez’s appointment have been mixed.
In March 2009, Gonzalez drew heavy criticism when he proposed
that a transitional government be formed to carry out
constitutional changes, with membership drawn from the
executive branch, judiciary, churches, and civil society. He
suggested that this government be headed by former President
Joseph Estrada, who was forced out of the presidential palace
in a 2001 uprising and then convicted on corruption charges,
or Mike Velarde, the leader of the Catholic Charismatic group
El Shaddai Movement.

¶6. (C) While President Arroyo quickly distanced herself from
Gonzalez’s statements, the National Security Advisor’s
comments were seized on by critics as evidence that President
Arroyo might seek to remain in office beyond 2010. While
Arroyo has publicly reaffirmed her support for the 2010
elections, many Filipinos have suspected that she wants to
extend her term or otherwise remain in power by revising the
Constitution. (Any attempts to change the Constitution would
face heavy Senate and public resistance.) On November 16,
Gonzalez sought to downplay his past remarks on a
transitional government, saying that he had merely intended
to initiate “meaningful debate in our society” and that he
had “wanted the people to go back in history and look in on
the more sensitive and critical aspects of people power.”

¶7. (U) Senator Rodolfo Biazon, Chairman of the Committee on
National Defense and Security, was critical of Gonzalez’s
appointment. Referring to Gonzalez’s proposal for a
transitional government, Biazon told the press, “I think he
should be recalled (from his new position) because his
advocacies are dangerous to the constitutional government….
We have to relate this (appointment) to the ‘no election’
scenario because (that scenario) can justify that so-called
transitional government, and here the advocate of those
revolutionary ideas is given the power to oversee and control
the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

Comment
——-

¶8. (C) As National Security Advisor, Gonzalez has focused on
the New People’s Army’s communist insurgency, letting other
officials concentrate on the Muslim insurgency and terrorism
in the South. While his term as SND will be fairly brief, it
has the potential to be problematic. In the past we have

MANILA 00002408 002 OF 002

found Gonzalez to be inconsistent and prone to shooting from
the hip.

¶9. (C) In contrast to the Palace spokesman’s statement that
Gonzalez will continue reforms in the Armed Forces, we
believe that he will not be an active Acting Secretary and
that any attempt to make major departures from current policy
would not be supported by the Department’s senior managers.
We expect that, during the interim period, the official most
responsible for running the Department will be Antonio C.
Santos, Jr., Undersecretary for Defense Affairs and
Office-in-Charge for Plans and Programs. Given our
countries’ large and complex defense relationship, it would
certainly be helpful if the mercurial Gonzalez does indeed
take a back seat.

Biography
———

¶10. (U) Norberto “Bert” Gonzales Jr. was born on April 17,
1947 in Balanga, Bataan Province, Philippines. He holds
university degrees from Ateneo de Davao (pre-medical) and the
University of the Philippines (Masters in Chemistry). From
1971 until 2004, he was Chairman of the Philippine Democratic
Socialist Party. He served as Presidential Adviser for
Special Concerns from 2001-2004, then became President
Arroyo’s Chief of Staff for a year, before becoming National
Security Advisor. He served as Officer-in-Charge of the
Department of National Defense in July-August 2007.
KENNEY

   

 

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