Oct 272014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/05/08MANILA1125.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1125
2008-05-09 09:41
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9386
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1125 1300941
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 090941Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0673
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 001125

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RP BM
SUBJECT: FOREIGN SECRETARY CRITICIZES BURMA’S INACTION ON HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

REF: A. MANILA 1105

¶B. MANILA 690
¶C. MANILA 654

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a conversation with the Ambassador May
9, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo lamented the Burmese
regime’s truculent stance against international involvement
in relief efforts, and outlined how the junta’s resistance to
cooperation is affecting Philippine efforts to assist victims
of Cyclone Nargis. The Philippine Secretary of Health stands
ready with a team of seasoned medical specialists who offer
expertise in a broad range of disaster-relief services.
Burma’s ongoing crisis maintains resonance with Philippine
national media; reports highlight the expanding scope of the
calamity and the Burmese regime’s seeming indifference toward
rescuing its citizens. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) Foreign Secretary Romulo informed the Ambassador May
9 that a 15-member Philippine medical contingent was
suffering the same fate as other international relief
workers, and could not yet enter Burma, pending approval of
its visas (reftel A). Romulo opined that the regime’s
bureaucratic stall tactics likely reflected the ruling
junta’s fear that international involvement in relief efforts
would present a sharp, negative contrast between its own
brutal repression and international norms of behavior.

¶3. (C) Romulo also believes that the Burmese junta’s
strident opposition to outside help stemmed in part from its
upcoming constitutional referendum, long scheduled for May
¶10. In the wake of globally disseminated reports that the
constitution was drafted in secret without opposition
involvement or debate, international aid workers would serve
as eyewitnesses that the entire process is a sham, with
illegitimate results. Romulo nevertheless expressed his
belief that a disaster of such unprecedented magnitude would
ultimately force the Burmese generals to open up the nation
as never before.

¶4. (SBU) Health Secretary Francisco Duque III publicly
reported that his veteran disaster-relief medical team stands
ready to move into Burma at a moment’s notice; its past
deployments include 2004 assistance to victims of the
devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. In addition
to surgical and internal-medicine services, the team includes
psychologists, environmental scientists, epidemiologists, and
health education instructors.

¶5. (SBU) The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burma continues
to command front-page attention in Philippine national media.
Leading dailies ran firsthand accounts of the tragedy, and
underscored revised estimates that as many as 100,000 people
may have lost their lives. Reports underscored the regime’s
callous disregard for suffering even as massive amounts of
international aid faced logjams of red tape.
KENNEY

   

 

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