Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/08/07MANILA2688.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2688
2007-08-09 10:00
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5658
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2688/01 2211000
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091000Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7782
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002688

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP TOOLAN/REDMAN
JOINT STAFF J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/COLEMAN)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/10/2017
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS RP
SUBJECT: DESPITE PRESSURE AND PROVOCATION, ARMED FORCES EXERCISE RESTRAINT ON BASILAN

REF: A. MANILA 2629

¶B. MANILA 2575
¶C. MANILA 2503
¶D. MANILA 2474
¶E. MANILA 2428
¶F. MANILA 2369
¶G. MANILA 2358
¶H. MANILA 2344

Classified By: Classified by: Charge Paul W. Jones for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. Despite provocations on its soldiers and
significant pressure from media and some political leaders to
avenge the July 10 beheadings of ten marines on Basilan
island, the Armed Forces is exercising restraint to prevent a
wider war, thereby derailing the peace process. Chief of
Staff General Esperon told Ambassador August 7 that the
military is well deployed on Basilan, but will refrain from
significant operations until after the intentions of Muslim
insurgents become clearer at the next round of peace talks in
Kuala Lumpur August 22. In the meantime, the military will
continue to back up police forces attempting to serve
warrants on the perpetrators of the beheadings. Esperon is
currently planning civil-military operations, medical
missions, and small infrastructure projects to bolster
efforts by provincial and local government units, donors and
non-governmental organizations to relieve the suffering of
thousands of displaced persons and ultimately advance the
peace process on the island. He was very appreciative of
U.S. support for these activities. End Summary.

—————————–
Philippine Marines on Basilan
—————————–

¶2. (C) During Ambassador’s August 7 meeting with Armed
Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hermogenes
Esperon, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics Rear Admiral
Ludovico F. Franco, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans Major
General Gilbert S. Llanto, Ambassador commended the
Philippine Marines for exercising maximum restraint on
Basilan, and expressed hope that the July 10 ambush and
beheadings would not damage prospects for Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks now slated for August 22.
Esperon described the Philippine Marines deployed to Basilan
as disciplined, ready for action, and under clear orders not
to initiate an armed conflict. Morale among the troops was
“high,” commented Esperon, as he highlighted his plans for
civil-military operations, medical missions, and small
infrastructure projects to advance the peace process on the
island. He expressed appreciation for USAID and U.S. military
support for medical missions and civil-military projects on
Basilan.

¶3. (C) Esperon said the Philippine Marines were well aware
of the media and public’s intense interest in their
activities, and remained determined not to be provoked into a
widening war by those that wanted to derail the peace
process. While acknowledging an August 6 incident in Tipo
Tipo during which a Philippine Marine patrol was fired upon,
Esperon expressed annoyance with the press for labeling the
brief encounter as an “all out war.”

———————–
Pressure From All Sides
———————–

¶4. (C) Esperon said he was under pressure from competing
constituencies over the July 10 incident in Basilan, which
some had characterized as placing the honor of the Philippine
Marines at stake. While “hawks” wanted his resignation for
not retaliating against those responsible for the ambush and
beheadings, “ultra rightists” pressed for the elimination of
Muslim separatist groups. On the “left,” said Esperon, were
those protecting the human rights of the perpetrators of the
beheadings.

—————-
Peace Talks Next
—————-

¶5. (C) Esperon said Philippine military actions on Basilan
would remain on hold until the results of upcoming peace

MANILA 00002688 002 OF 003

talks with the MILF were known. According to Esperon,
progress in the next round of peace talks hinged upon the
MILF’s seriousness and determination to reach an agreement.
“If the MILF is not serious about the peace process, we are
prepared to launch a war they cannot win,” commented Esperon.

¶6. (C) After praising Malaysia for facilitating the MILF
peace talks, Esperon optimistically noted that “if President
Ramos could get a peace deal with the Moro National
Liberation Front, we could get one with the MILF.” Esperon
expressed concern, however, over parties intent on scuttling
the peace process, including factions within the MILF, some
Mindanao-based Christians, and “some in Manila.”

—————-
Military Posture
—————-

¶7. (C) Outlining his military posture on Mindanao, Esperon
said military forces on Basilan were designed to stabilize
the situation and focus on the Abu Sayyaf terrorists if MILF
peace talks proceed well. In Jolo, aggressive operations
against terrorist targets would continue. In central
Mindanao, the military was positioned to protect vital power
transmission towers and other key infrastructure
installations against MILF attack. (Note: While the
situation on Basilan remains relatively stable, armed
encounters continue on Jolo, with ten AFP soldiers killed
August 9 in an ambush carried out by suspected Abu Sayyaf
militants. End note.)

——————-
Focus on Abu Sayyaf
——————-

¶8. (C) Esperon underscored his readiness to focus military
operations against the ASG on Basilan. However, he added
that much would depend on the outcome of forthcoming MILF
peace talks.

¶9. (C) The ASG has a greater presence on Basilan than
previously believed, said Esperon, while observing that the
withdrawal of Philippine military forces from the island
years ago may have been premature. Esperon also acknowledged
the difficulties in distinguishing ASG from MNLF and MILF
members on Basilan due to their family and blood ties, and
the consequent challenges this would pose for the planning of
military operations.

——————————–
Humanitarian Assistance Underway
——————————–

¶10. (SBU) While Philippine military operations remain on
hold, humanitarian assistance is underway for thousands of
displaced persons from Tipo Tipo and Al-Barka. According to
Basilan Provincial Administrator Nur Talib, some 1,200
families from seven barangays in Al-Barka municipality are
currently housed with relatives in unaffected barangays.
Many of the displaced persons are receiving food and medicine
from local government units and the Department of Welfare and
Social Development. To avoid a disruption in educational
services, government officials are not allowing classrooms to
be used as evacuation centers.

¶11. (SBU) A disaster and preparedness coordinating team
organized by USAID’s Project Shield staff, the Basilan
Provincial Health Office, local government units, and other
groups is conducting rapid health assessments of displaced
persons to avert outbreaks of disease. The team has tapped
external support for food, household supplies, and potable
water. Medicines are being supplied by USAID Project Shield,
the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Department of
Health, Christian Children’s Fund, Isabela Foundation, and
Ateneo de Zamboanga Peace Institute.

¶12. (SBU) President Arroyo has also dispatched three teams
composed of four doctors, six nurses, and 10 medical aides
from the Armed Forces Medical center to Basilan. In a stern
warning to those who may intend to attack this 20-member
humanitarian mission, Arroyo said “harm them and Hades will
come to you.”

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:

MANILA 00002688 003 OF 003

http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

JONES

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.