Oct 112014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/11/05MANILA5357.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5357
2005-11-16 03:53
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.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 MANILA 005357

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, IO/UNP, DRL/IRF, S/CT, G/TIP
DEPT PASS TO AID:CDOWNEY
NSC FOR H. MORROW

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2015
TAGS: PREL PTER PHUM ECON EAID RP UNSC APEC
SUBJECT: EAP DAS JOHN LEADS NOVEMBER 11 BILATERAL DISCUSSIONS WITH GRP

REF: A. MANILA 5331
¶B. MANILA 5329
¶C. MANILA 5328
¶D. MANILA 5317
¶E. MANILA 5276
¶F. USUN NEW YORK 1996

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: EAP DAS John and Charge held extensive
discussions on bilateral issues with DFA A/S for American
Affairs Abadilla and Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Del
Rosario on November 11. DAS John underscored that the
primary purpose of his visit to the Philippines was to focus
on substantive issues on both sides’ bilateral agendas. The
two sides agreed on the importance of continued cooperation
in the counterterrorism area and in APEC. The GRP side
presented a proposal for a USG-GRP “Enhanced Bilateral
Cooperation Framework,” and reviewed earlier proposals by
House Speaker De Venecia for a “debt for equity” plan and an
international “Interfaith Dialogue.” The GRP side said it
was committed to progress in countering human trafficking and
expressed optimism on finalizing its Millennium Challenge
Account (MCA) Threshold Plan soon. The GRP side also
described plans for commemorating the centennial anniversary
of Philippine migration to the U.S. in 2006. DAS John and
Charge held a press event after the talks. Text of the
statement made by DAS John at the event is in para 13. Text
of a DFA press release regarding the discussions is in para
¶14. (Reftels review DAS John’s meetings with President
Arroyo, Foreign Secretary Romulo, and GRP Defense officials.)
End Summary.

Overview
——–

¶2. (C) In discussions on November 11 in Manila with the
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (see list of
participants in para 15), EAP DAS Eric G. John underscored
that the primary purpose of his visit to the Philippines was
to focus on substantive issues on both sides’ bilateral
agendas. He noted that these were the kind of talks close
allies hold, and said that he wanted to get away from a
reactive, event-driven relationship so that both sides could
focus on areas where they could achieve results. DAS John
added that we look forward to continued high-level
discussions to advance our close cooperation on issues of
mutual interest.

New and old proposals
———————

¶3. (C) GRP Ambassador to the U.S. Albert Del Rosario began
by presenting a GRP proposal calling for a USG-GRP “Enhanced
Bilateral Cooperation Framework” (text in para 7). Del
Rosario related that the proposal called for “focused”
bilateral cooperation on three broad areas: defense and
security, including law enforcement; socio-economic
development in the Philippines; and cooperation on peace
process and development issues involving Mindanao. DAS John
commented that the proposal was interesting and he promised
to take the proposal back to Washington for further
consideration.

¶4. (SBU) Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs for American
Affairs Ariel Abadilla and Del Rosario also shared two
earlier proposals by House Speaker Jose De Venecia: the first
involving a “debt-for-equity” plan for developing countries
(ref F) and the second involving an international “Interfaith
Dialogue,” which would include a large conference to be held
in Manila in January 2006. Del Rosario commented that the
dialogue could involve bringing together Shiite and Sunni
Muslims in Iraq. (Note: At a November 11 dinner held in DAS
John’s honor, De Venecia personally reviewed these proposals
at length and urged USG support. End Note.)

Counterterrorism
—————-

¶5. (C) Turning to counterterrorism issues, Abadilla quoted a
recent Australian press report calling the Philippines the
region’s “weak link” in the fight against terrorism and asked
whether the USG concurred with that view. DAS John replied
that the USG was generally quite pleased with the GRP’s
counterterrorism efforts but supported the passage of
comprehensive counterterrorism legislation and urged the GRP
to continue to apprehend more terrorists operating within its
borders. Charge added that improved coordination among the
armed forces, the police, and other GRP elements was
essential in the fight against terrorism. Ambassador Del
Rosario noted that the GRP greatly appreciated the
counterterrorism assistance rendered by the USG to the GRP
but that, up to now, most U.S. counterterrorism assistance
had focused on Mindanao and Muslim militant groups. He said
that the GRP believes that counterterrorism cooperation
should be expanded to address “the growing threat” posed by
the Communist New People’s Army (NPA).

¶6. (C) Re the peace process, Abadilla said he expected talks
with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to resume now
that the Muslim holidays were coming to an end. He thanked
DAS Jones for USAID’s continued support of the peace process.
Charge reiterated the U.S. commitment to supporting
negotiations and the willingness to doing everything
appropriate to help, including providing similar assistance
to the MILF as was provided to the Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF), once a peace agreement is finalized and
implemented. He solicited the GRP’s input on what further
steps would be of most use in moving the talks forward.

Millennium Challenge Account
—————————-

¶7. (SBU) GRP officials described their preparations for the
GRP’s Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Program country
plan and expressed optimism that the GRP would complete the
plan soon. They cited ten recent cases filed against corrupt
government officials and a doubling of the cases filed
against tax evaders as evidence of the GRP’s seriousness in
carrying through on its anti-corruption and fiscal reform
proposals. DAS John encouraged the GRP to think expansively
regarding what types of assistance it needed under the
program.

APEC
—-

¶8. (C) DAS John underscored the importance of several issues
to be discussed at the upcoming APEC forum in Busan, Korea,
such as the current Doha round of WTO talks, terrorism, and
energy security. He encouraged APEC economies to continue to
reduce barriers to trade, to work with private energy
companies in order to increase efficiency, and to diversify
their energy portfolios. Econ Counselor flagged that
Philippine Airlines (PAL) was seeking to purchase additional
long-range aircraft and pointed out that the Boeing 777
(currently under consideration for purchase by PAL) was 20
percent more fuel efficient than its Airbus rival (ref E).

Trafficking in Persons
———————-

¶9. (C) DAS John urged the GRP to take stronger steps to
address the problem of trafficking in persons, especially in
the areas of prosecuting and convicting traffickers. He
flagged the December 3-6 visit of Ambassador John Miller of
G/TIP as an opportunity for the GRP to demonstrate the
actions it was taking to confront the problem. The
Philippine side stressed that the GRP took the issue
seriously and reiterated that the matter was receiving
high-level attention.

Anniversary of Philippine Migration to U.S.
——————————————-

¶10. (U) Del Rosario noted that the Governor of Hawaii
planned to visit the Philippines in January 2006 to celebrate
the centennial anniversary of the first migration of
Filipinos to the U.S. He added that the Smithsonian Museum
was now preparing an exhibition on the matter. DAS John
commented that this was a very worthy project and promised
that the USG would explore ways in which it could support the
effort.

Press Conference
—————-

¶11. (U) Following the afternoon session, DAS John and Charge
held a press conference with national media. DAS John read a
statement about the discussions (text in para 13) and the DFA
later issued its own press release (text in para 14). (Note:
A full transcript of the press conference is available on
Embassy Manila’s web site at http://manila.usembassy.gov.
End Note.)

“Enhanced Bilateral Cooperation Framework”
——————————————

¶12. (SBU) Begin text:

The Philippines and the United States:
Towards an Enhanced Bilateral Cooperation Framework

Recognizing the importance of their Alliance as a pillar of
Asia-Pacific security, and of their traditional friendship as
allied democracies in defending the security of their people,
the Philippines and the United States will elaborate a
Framework to enhance their bilateral cooperation in areas of
priority mutual interest.

This also is in keeping with the spirit of the ASEAN-US
Enhanced Partnership. The new Philippine-American
cooperation Framework carries forward, on a bilateral level,
key objectives of the ASEAN-US Enhanced Partnership.

THE FRAMEWORK ACTION PLAN

Under the Framework Action Plan, the Philippines and the
United States will focus their cooperation on three major
areas, namely:

(1) Defense and security cooperation, including law
enforcement, to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation and
capabilities;

(2) Socio-economic development cooperation in support of the
Philippines’ reform and anti-poverty agenda; and

(3) Cooperation for the peace process and development in
Mindanao.

To deepen cooperation in each of these three areas, the
Philippines and the United States will:

DEFENSE AND SECURITY COOPERATION

Launch a strategic dialogue at senior official-level to
consult on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual
concern.

Advance cooperation to implement the Philippine Defense
Reform Program (PDRP).

Continue to focus on improving the mobility of Philippine
security forces.

Pursue a robust program of defense and security cooperation,
including joint training exercises, military education,
capacity-building for the AFP in surveillance, intelligence,
reconnaissance, mobility, communications and humanitarian
activities.

Deepen law enforcement cooperation to improve counter-terror
capabilities of the Philippine police and other law
enforcement agencies to cover border security, customs,
terrorist financing and money laundering, cyber-terrorism,
transportation and ports security.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

Revitalize the bilateral dialogue under the RP-US Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in order to address IPR
and other bilateral issues, to expand Philippine access to
the American market, and to increase American investment in
the Philippines, especially in agriculture and natural
resources, infrastructure development, information technology
and housing, with appropriate assistance from OPIC, US
Eximbank and US TDA.
Continue with consultations on a bilateral RP-US Free Trade
Agreement (FTA) and maintain a close dialogue on regional
economic trends.

Implement comprehensive cooperation to boost Philippine
reform, development, counter-corruption and improved
governance through programs of USAID, PL-480, the MCA and
other US development assistance mechanisms.

Carry forward with cooperation to facilitate and to reduce
the transaction costs of overseas remittances through
programs with USAID, the US Treasury, the US Federal Reserve
and the US FDIC.

Expand cooperation on socio-economic issues that have a
strong transnational dimension, especially human trafficking,
the environment, pandemic flu and other health concerns.

COOPERATION FOR MINDANAO PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Maintain robust support for the Mindanao peace process, where
significant progress has been made in the GRP-MILF peace
talks towards a possible peace agreement by early next year,
through programs of USAID and USIP aimed at rebel returnee
integration, community and livelihood development, conflict
resolution management, public diplomacy for peace, and
post-conflict recovery and rehabilitation.

Promote a durable and long-term peace by expanding
cooperation in education, interfaith dialogue and
institutional capacity-building with special attention in the
ARMM and Muslim communities in Mindanao.

IMPLEMENTATION AND MEASURING PROGRESS

The Philippines and the United States will identify and task
their respective agencies that will be responsible for
ensuring a focused implementation of the Framework Action
Plan. There will be regular consultations to monitor the
progress of its implementation and of its results.

End Text.

¶13. (U) Text of opening statement by DAS John at press event
held at Embassy on November 11, 2005:

The reason I came to the Philippines today, a trip we have
been planning for many weeks now, was to hold bilateral
agenda talks. The bulk of my time was spent with the
Department of Foreign Affairs and we focused on the many
substantive issues this relationship covers. These are the
types of talks that close allies hold. I was reminded, in
fact, of that very close alliance and the nature of that
alliance when I attended Veterans Day ceremonies today at
both the American and Philippine veteran cemeteries. These
veterans paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend and build the
type of alliance that we have today and that we are keeping
vital and important.

The issues we covered today in our talks were Philippine
Defense Reform Program (PDR), counter-terrorism cooperation,
law enforcement cooperation, and more. We want to build
enhanced cooperation in law enforcement and the U.S. is
looking for ways to help and support the Republic of the
Philippines transform its police, to deal with the types of
threats that it faces today, which include trafficking,
counter-terrorism, intellectual property rights violations,
as well as to strengthen the links between police and
prosecutors in the judicial system.

We also looked at the Millennium Challenge Account. We see
the MCA as an opportunity for the U.S. and the Philippines to
work together on anti-corruption and building fiscal
capacity. We talked about the Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement (TIFA). We have in the Philippines one of the most
dynamic TIFAs in the region. We have energetic discussions
within the TIFA framework, and we use that to address such
issues as Intellectual Property Rights enforcement. The
Philippines reiterated its commitment to the TIFA today, as
did we.
Trafficking in persons is another area that we discussed. We
looked at the cooperation that we have in anti-trafficking
and the United States certainly noted the resolve of
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the government here to
deal resolutely with this very important issue. We looked at
our cooperation in multilateral fora such as the United
Nations, ASEAN, APEC, and the WTO. We discussed areas of
common interests in all of those fora.

We looked at senior level visits, and trying to get as many
senior level visits on both sides is important for an
alliance like this. In this regard, Secretary Cruz is
visiting Washington next month at the invitation of Secretary
Rumsfeld. This will be an excellent opportunity to talk about
Philippines Defense Reform, counter-terrorism, and other
defense related issues. We discussed Mindanao, the ongoing
peace process there and U.S. interest, not only in terms of
our support of the peace process, but U.S. interest – after
an agreement is reached there – to provide appropriate
assistance for that process. Finally, we looked at next
year’s centennial of the first Philippine migration to the
United States and ways that we can commemorate that.

I had the opportunity to talk about many of these issues with
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo this afternoon, and the
talks at both Malacanang and the DFA were very productive.
The United States has every confidence in the Philippines as
a very close partner in moving forward on these important
issues. With this type of mutual cooperation, I see our
alliance as one that is going to remain vital and continue to
serve the interests of both of our nations and particularly
the American people and the Filipino people.

End Text.

¶14. (U) Text of DFA’s press release on bilateral
discussions, issued November 14, 2005:

US DEPARTMENT OF STATE OFFICIAL CALLS ON PRESIDENT GLORIA
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

11 November 2005 ) US Department of State Deputy Assistant
Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Eric G. John

SIPDIS
called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today and
reiterated the US Government’s confidence in moving forward a
more substantive agenda in RP-US relations. John said the
Philippines can expect more visits from U.S. senior-level
officials in the months to come.

“The discussion focused on many substantive issues; these are
the types of talks that close allies hold” according to Mr.
John. He conveyed that the U.S. is keen in supporting the
Philippines’ implementation of priority programs, including
the Philippine Defense Reform Program (PDRP),
counter-terrorism measures, and economic and fiscal
initiatives like the E-Vat and Millennium Challenge Account.

President Arroyo discussed with Mr. John the Philippines,
initiatives and progress not only in counter-terrorism but
also in addressing the issues of Intellectual Property Rights
(IPR) violations and human trafficking. In fact, the
Presidential Spokesman reiterated yesterday that the Arroyo
Administration’s efforts to combat human trafficking have
never wavered.

Earlier in the day, Mr. John called on DFA Secretary Alberto
¶G. Romulo and also discussed law enforcement cooperation, the
Millennium Challenge Account, areas of common interest in the
UN, ASEAN, APEC, and WTO, the Mindanao Peace Process and the
commemoration of the Centennial of Filipino Migration to
Hawaii. Secretary Romulo expressed confidence in maintaining
and strengthening RP-US alliance. “This continuing dialogue
with US officials reaffirms our traditional friendship as
allied democracies and paves the way in pursuing a more
focused and strategic bilateral cooperation framework,”
Secretary Romulo explained.

SIPDIS

During the call on both Secretary Romulo and President
Arroyo, Mr. John expressed regret on the alleged incident in
Subic and assured the Philippine Government of US cooperation
in pursuing the truth. US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Paul
Jones added that “the US Government will follow the spirit
and letter of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” and that
“the focus on the case is in letting the investigation take
its course.”

End Text.

¶15. (U) Participants in the discussions included:

U.S.:
EAP DAS Eric G. John
Charge d’Affaires Paul W. Jones
Economic Counselor Robert P. Ludan
Acting Political Counselor Joseph L. Novak
Consular Officer Shawn Waddoups (Notetaker)
Political Officer Timothy Cipullo (Notetaker)

GRP:
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Albert Del Rosario
DFA A/S Ariel Abadilla
DFA Principal Assistant Leah Victoria Rodriguez
DFA Special Assistant Maria Lourdes Montero
DFA Director of U.S. Division Maria Josephina Ceballos
DFA Americas Desk Officer Angelito Nayan
DOF Undersecretary of Domestic Finance Gil Beltran
DOF International Finance Group Chief Araceli Habaradas
DOF Special Assistant to Finance Secretary Lea De Leon

¶16. (U) DAS John approved this message.

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/

Jones

   

 

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