Oct 272014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/03/08MANILA721.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA721
2008-03-24 08:28
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2536
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0721/01 0840828
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240828Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0212
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000721

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2018
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV RP
SUBJECT: EAP DAS HIGHLIGHTS U.S. SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRACY IN VISIT TO PHILIPPINES

REF: A. MANILA 654 (EAP DAS STRESSES NEED TO MAINTAIN

PRESSURE ON BURMA)
¶B. MANILA 651 (AMBASSADOR FORGES KEY RELATIONSHIPS
IN ISLAMIC CITY)
¶C. MANILA 521 (ANTI-ARROYO PROTESTS STILL LACK
CRITICAL MASS)
¶D. 07 MANILA 863 (VISITING EAP/MTS OFFICE DIRECTOR
URGES PHILIPPINES)

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Catherine Ebert-Gray, Reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d)

1 (SBU) SUMMARY: During his March 1-5 visit to the
Philippines, EAP Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel
focused attention on USG initiatives that bolster democracy
in the Philippines and the region. In meetings with
high-level Philippine officials, Marciel underscored our
support for allowing democratic processes to work in the
Philippines, encouraging democratic reforms in Burma, and
resolving reports of extrajudicial killings. DAS Marciel
also visited U.S.-supported programs to improve the
Philippine police and protect victims of human trafficking.
He joined the Ambassador’s March 1 visit to the Islamic City
of Marawi, which highlighted our efforts to encourage a peace
agreement (ref B). END SUMMARY.

ENCOURAGING PEACE AND UNDERWRITING DEVELOPMENT
——————————————— –

¶2. (U) DAS Marciel’s engagement with USG initiatives that
support and enhance democracy began with his joining the
Ambassador for a tour of Marawi, a provincial capital in the
heart of Muslim Mindanao (ref B). As the Ambassador voiced
support for the Philippine government-MILF peace talks, DAS
Marciel witnessed first-hand the public perception that a
peace deal will bring greater prosperity and more USAID
development projects, as evidenced by the enthusiastic
welcome offered at each event.

PRESSING FOR DEMOCRACY IN BURMA
——————————-

¶3. (SBU) Marciel had visited the Philippines as EAP/MTS
Office Director a year earlier, focusing on extrajudicial
killings and democratization in Burma (ref D). Returning to
the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), DAS Marciel again
thanked the Philippine government for its proactive stance on
pressing for reform in Burma, and he urged Asian and Pacific
Affairs Assistant Secretary Romeo Manalo to continue working
with ASEAN and the U.S. to advance democracy in the region
(ref A). With coordination from Foreign Commercial Service,
DAS Marciel also met March 4 with the board of the local U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, delivering remarks on how the situation
in Burma affects the investment climate in Southeast Asia.
He in turn heard the Chamber’s views on regional trade and
how to encourage the Philippines to become more attractive to
investors.

SUPPORTING RULE OF LAW IN THE PHILIPPINES
—————————————–

¶4. (SBU) DAS Marciel on March 4 also visited the
headquarters of the Philippine National Police, where Gen.
Jefferson Soriano, Chief of Task Force Usig, the unit charged
with investigating extrajudicial killings of leftist
activists and media practitioners, detailed the Philippine
government’s efforts to investigate and prosecute the
killings. Soriano also explained efforts to reconcile
nongovernmental organizations’ estimates of the killings with
the numbers based on investigations and legal proceedings.
DAS Marciel congratulated Task Force Usig on the significant
decline in reported killings in 2007. However, noting that
the issue continued to attract attention in Washington, he
stressed that more needs to be done, particularly with
respect to prosecutions and convictions.

¶5. (U) DAS Marciel visited two partnership initiatives
March 4 that enhance justice and receive U.S. support: a
police training project and a transitional shelter for
victims of human trafficking. The International Criminal
Investigative Assistance Training Program (ICITAP) operates a
police assistance project that teaches police leaders to
become more effective trainers as a means of multiplying the
impact of training; Marciel had previously visited an
ICITAP-supported model police station in Marawi on March 1
(ref B). The March 4 visit to the Visayan Forum Foundation
Halfway House for Trafficked Victims likewise showcased port
police officials and a nongovernmental organization working
together with USAID and G/TIP officials. The halfway house

MANILA 00000721 002 OF 002

provides a safe haven for victims–primarily women and
children–of traffickers. DAS Marciel toured the port area
facility and met with staff, who explained how their
partnering efforts help address global patterns of
trafficking.

CONCERNS ABOUT POLITICAL INSTABILITY ASSUAGED
———————————————

¶6. (C) Having arrived in the aftermath of the February 29
protests against President Arroyo’s administration (ref C),
Marciel found that many of his meetings turned toward
discussions of domestic political friction, and conjecture
regarding whether President Arroyo would be forced to step
down. At a March 3 meeting of an informal “Likeminded
Ambassadors” group hosted by the Ambassador, ambassadors from
Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore agreed that street
protests and widespread media reporting on corruption
underscored opposition to the Arroyo administration, but were
unlikely to lead to a crisis (ref B). The group agreed that
democratic processes were sometimes messy, but that the
Philippines’ democratic institutions had matured to the point
where the incumbent president could be expected to complete
her term. The “Likeminded Ambassadors” also welcomed
Marciel’s explanation of the U.S. approach towards Burma,
supporting a legitimate dialogue that brings the Burmese
opposition into the political process (ref A).

¶7. (C) Ambassador hosted a private lunch March 3 with
former Defense Secretary Avelino “Nonong” Cruz, a close
confidant of President Arroyo and an influential attorney in
Manila business circles. Though Cruz at first vacillated
regarding Arroyo’s fortunes, he settled on the view that the
President could weather the political storm until 2010 by
making policy changes and adjustments to her inner circle.
Cruz opined that none of the potential presidential
candidates would want to give Vice President Noli De Castro a
leg up in the 2010 race by making him president now.
Ambassador gently encouraged Cruz to share his ideas about
shoring up Arroyo’s stability with the President herself.

¶8. (C) Later March 3, Executive Secretary (Presidential
Chief of Staff) Eduardo Ermita offered his frank views of
domestic stability. Ermita challenged the credibility of
Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, Jr., a key witness in the Senate
corruption inquiry, and expressed confidence that the public
protests would run out of steam. In light of protests, the
Ambassador and DAS Marciel reminded Ermita of U.S. support
for freedom of expression, human rights, and peaceful
protest, as well as adherence to the constitutional process,
and that Washington takes very seriously concerns over
extrajudicial killings. DAS Marciel thanked the Arroyo
administration again for its robust criticism of the Burmese
regime, which President Arroyo publicly reiterated six days
following the Deputy Assistant Secretary’s visit (ref A).

¶9. (U) DAS Marciel cleared this cable.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
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/
EBERT-GRAY

   

 

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