Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1040 2006-03-07 08:08 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1040 0660808
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070808Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9775
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS MANILA 001040
DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/PD, DRL/CDA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS ASEC PREL KPAO RP
SUBJECT: EAP DAS JOHN MEETINGS EXPLORE EMERGENCY RULE, FREE PRESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
REF: MANILA 995 AND PREVIOUS
¶1. (SBU) Summary. On March 2, EAP Deputy Assistant
Secretary Eric John discussed President Arroyo’s declaration
of a State of Emergency with Ricardo Saludo, Secretary of the
Cabinet and member of the Presidential Management Staff.
They also discussed the Arroyo administration’s strategy for
further economic development in the Philippines. Later that
day, DAS John discussed the impact of the State of Emergency
on the Philippine press at a dinner with local media
personalities. End summary.
¶2. (SBU) On March 2, EAP DAS John met in Manila with Cabinet
Secretary Saludo. The conversation revolved around President
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s declaration of a State of Emergency
on February 24 in response to an apparent coup plot. (She
lifted the State of Emergency on March 3.) Secretary Saludo
addressed the media’s characterization of the State of
Emergency as a crackdown on freedom of the press by
expressing exasperation with what he characterized as the
Philippine media’s sensationalism and loose regard for facts,
stating that the media was not behaving responsibly in the
current crisis. Although the Philippine Constitution allows
for government control of the media in a State of Emergency,
the President had not chosen to pursue this option, he noted.
Responding to the specific case of a small newspaper that
had been raided by the police, he further noted that the
press was subject to the GRP’s laws against sedition
regardless of whether a State of Emergency had been declared.
¶3. (SBU) Saludo also discussed the prospects for continued
economic improvement in the Philippines. Once the State of
Emergency had been lifted, President Arroyo would continue to
pursue her development agenda, he stressed. This agenda
rested on six goals: increased foreign direct investment;
improved infrastructure; increased social services; fighting
corruption; assuring peace and order; and “cooling down” the
overheated political climate. Enhanced enforcement of tax
collection would be necessary to fund this agenda, he added.
¶4. (SBU) Later on March 2, DAS John attended a dinner hosted
by the Charge for local media personalities, where talk again
turned to the State of Emergency and its impact on the media.
All media representatives present agreed that the State of
Emergency had had a “chilling effect” on the Philippine
press, noting that reporters were now being more circumspect
and some were engaging in self-censorship. However, when
pressed, they could not articulate any specific harm
resulting from government actions. When asked how media
practices in the Philippines would be different after the
State of Emergency was lifted, no one present could point to
any specific changes they anticipated.
¶5. (SBU) Comment. In spite of the lifting of the State of
Emergency on March 3, the Philippine media — especially the
Daily Inquirer, a frequent source of anti-Arroyo sentiment —
continues to complain about President Arroyo’s media
“crackdown.” That these complaints are on front pages, in
banner headlines, would seem to contradict their substance.
We do not anticipate any change in the Philippine media’s
style or substance in the foreseeable future. End comment.
¶6. (U) DAS John has cleared this message.