Oct 232014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-10-20 06:04
2011-08-30 01:44
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 02 MANILA 004962



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2015


¶B. MANILA 4662
¶C. MANILA 4140
¶D. MANILA 3391
¶E. 04 MANILA 3998

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Tensions have spiked between Lakas, the
major party in President Arroyo’s coalition in the House, and
KAMPI, a group of strong Arroyo loyalists. The flashpoint
for the friction has been how many KAMPI members will serve
on a key committee. A major source of continuing tension,
however, is Constitutional change, which KAMPI is leery of,
especially if proposed changes would curb Arroyo’s term or
powers. The latest bickering comes after several months of
Lakas/KAMPI cooperation as they worked to defeat the
Opposition’s anti-Arroyo impeachment effort. The divisions
in Arroyo’s House coalition add to her problems with a
recalcitrant Senate and potentially threaten her legislative
agenda. End Summary.

Lakas/KAMPI Ties take a Dive

¶2. (SBU) Tensions have spiked between Lakas-CMD, the major
party in President Arroyo’s coalition in the House of
Representatives, and KAMPI (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or
“Ally of the Filipino Citizen”), a grouping of strong Arroyo
loyalists. (Note: Lakas controls about 75 seats in the
House. KAMPI has about 35. Arroyo’s coalition, which
includes several other parties in addition to Lakas and
KAMPI, has majority control of the 236-member House. End
Note.) The immediate flashpoint for the tension is how many
representatives on the powerful Committee on Appointments
should be reserved for members of the KAMPI grouping. (Note:
The Commission on Appointments is a bicameral House/Senate
body, chaired by House Speaker Jose De Venecia, that confirms
cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, and high-level military and
police appointments. End Note.) KAMPI leaders are demanding
at least two seats on the 24-seat body. De Venecia, the head
of the Lakas party, has offered them only one.

¶3. (SBU) A major source of continuing tension, however, is
Constitutional change. No doubt at the explicit instructions
of President Arroyo and her advisers, KAMPI is extremely
leery of Constitutional change proposals to create a
unicameral parliamentary form of government, especially if
the proposed changes would curb Arroyo’s term (which ends in
2010) or her powers. KAMPI is so upset over the matter that
it has withdrawn its support for De Venecia’s Constitutional
change proposal until the Commission on Charter Change
(appointed by President Arroyo) submits its recommendations
to the House in December (see Ref B).

¶4. (C) Growing dissatisfaction by KAMPI with Lakas has led
some observers to speculate that there might be a KAMPI-led
leadership challenge to De Venecia. Contacts have related to
us that KAMPI members Congressman Luis Villafuerte or Ronaldo
“Ronnie” Puno may at some point take a run at De Venecia’s
position as House Speaker. There are also reports that
Congressman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, a Lakas member, may
challenge De Venecia with KAMPI support. If any of these
figures were to run against De Venecia, it would almost
certainly be with Malacanang’s backing and be very divisive.
However, at this point, there is no confirmation that KAMPI
is planning to make any such move in the immediate future,
though a possible timeframe for a challenge would be when the
House ends its current recess and re-convenes on November 7.

Relations Had Been On Upswing

¶5. (C) The latest friction in the Lakas/KAMPI relationship
comes after several months of cooperative links between the
two sides as they worked together to defeat the Opposition’s
impeachment complaint (Ref C). When Opposition lawmakers
filed impeachment charges against President Arroyo in July,
Lakas and KAMPI members stood firmly by the President. Lakas
members — whose backing for the President is sometimes more
nominal than actual — refused to endorse the impeachment
complaint, helping block its automatic transmittal to the
Senate. This cooperation was a notable change from the
partisan competition that had been the norm in relations
between the two groups since 2004. (Note: Then-senator
Arroyo formed KAMPI in 1997 during the run-up to her bid for
the vice presidency. The group fell into relative obscurity
until mid-2004 when Arroyo, fresh off her presidential
victory, reinvigorated KAMPI in order to counter the growing
influence of Lakas — see Ref E.)

¶6. (C) The divisions in Arroyo’s coalition in the House add
to her pre-existing problems with a recalcitrant Senate and
potentially threaten her legislative agenda. The next
several months of business in the two bodies will be busy
ones as the House prepares the budget for 2006, reviews
Constitutional change proposals, and discusses comprehensive
anti-terrorism legislation. Arroyo has already basically
lost control of the Senate due to defections from her camp
over the summer (Ref A), but her control of the House has
seemed steady, especially after her coalition held together
and defeated the impeachment drive in September. At this
point, unless a truce in the partisanship emerges, Lakas’s
and KAMPI’s problematic ties could potentially delay and
complicate the path of key legislative items.

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