Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2691 2005-06-10 04:35 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.
100435Z Jun 05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002691
STATE FOR EAP/PMBS
NSC FOR GREEN
DOD/ISA/AP FOR ALLEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/09/2015
TAGS: MARR MOPS MCAP PREL PTER RP
SUBJECT: DEFENSE SECRETARY WILLING TO TACKLE TOUGH POLICY QUESTIONS
Classified By: (U) Political Officer Paul O’Friel
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Secretary of National Defense Cruz appears
ready to explore three key policy questions in the US-RP
defense relationship: combined rules of engagement; a legal
framework for counterterrorism cooperation; and cooperative
security locations. In doing so, his emphasis seems to be on
finding practical approaches that take into account the
realities of Philippine politics. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) In a June 7 meeting with US Pacific Command (USPACOM)
Commander Admiral Fallon on the margins of the Mutual Defense
Board talks, Secretary of National Defense Avelino Cruz
indicated his willingness to discuss three key policy issues
in the US-RP military relationship:
— development of combined rules of engagement;
— establishment of a legal framework for counterterrorism
— identification and development of cooperative security
COMBINED RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
¶3. (C) Taking Admiral Fallon’s point that it was useful for
militaries that operate together to have agreed upon rules of
engagement, Secretary Cruz noted the Philippine constitution
had unique provisions governing the use of force. However,
he suggested the GRP could examine a US template and adapt it
to meet specific Filipino constitutional and legal
requirements. “We might be able to sign something by the end
of the year,” Cruz stated.
LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR COUNTERTERRORISM COOPERATION
¶4. (C) Either the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) or the
Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) could offer a framework for
US-RP counterterrorism cooperation, Cruz observed. Cruz
opined, however, that it might be a “stretch of the English
language” to include terrorism within the 1951 MDT’s
definition of “armed external attack.” Such an
interpretation had not been tested in the Philippine Supreme
Court. The Court had, although, ruled in Lim vs. the
Executive Secretary that the VFA covered counterterrorism
cooperation that was temporary, exercise-related, and
consisting of “combat related activities.” While it might be
possible to have two coordinated but separate mechanisms
associated with the VFA and MDB, Cruz said, as a lawyer, he
preferred to use the VFA as the principal legal basis for
¶5. (C) Cruz did not discount the possibility of a future
treaty that would cover cooperation on counterterrorism,
disaster relief, and transnational crime. The Philippine
Senate was examining this as a potential option.
Nonetheless, while not out of reach, any amendment of the MDT
or new treaty would involve a long process.
COOPERATIVE SECURITY LOCATIONS
¶6. (C) Cruz rapidly grasped the US need for cooperative
security locations (CSLs). “It’s a prearranged fit between a
facility, and what you may want to do in the future,” he
observed, adding, “It’s logical from an operations point of
view.” However, Philippine history and the cultural
sensitivity to bases required a well thought through
approach. While the issue was not complicated in theory,
Philippine historical baggage presented challenges. If not
handled properly, the opposition could exploit the issue.
“The trick is to run the gantlet the right way,” Cruz said.
“We have to be agile and nimble. With the right approach,
we’ll get there; with a clumsy approach, we won’t.”
¶7. (C) Cruz advocated dispensing with the terms “CSL” and
“access,” which could have negative connotations in the
Philippines. “CSL conjures up too many ghosts; lengthening a
runway, or storing fuel do not,” he said. Cruz suggested AFP
and PACOM J5 staffs — in collaboration with the Department
of National Defense (DND) — develop a “game plan” to arrive
at an agreement based on common sense and evaluation of
respective RP and US national interests. Speaking separately
to the PACOM J5, Rear Admiral Tracy, DND Undersecretary for
Legal and Priority Concerns Rodel Cruz indicated he believed
consensus on CSLs was well within reach.
¶8. (C) COMMENT. Cruz has confidently committed himself to
addressing three complex questions. In doing so, his
emphasis appears to be on finding practical solutions that
take into account Philippine realities. His caution in
dealing with the fractious Philippine Senate is well founded.
Some of its members would be all too ready to exploit any of
these issues for narrow political gain.
¶9. (U) Neither Admiral Fallon nor Rear Admiral Tracy had the
opportunity to review this telegram before their departure.
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