Sep 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/03/09MANILA646.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA646
2009-03-24 09:15
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO7933
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DE RUEHML #0646/01 0830915
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240915Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3622
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000646

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/2019
TAGS: PGOV PTER PHUM PREL BEXP VA RP
SUBJECT: FOREIGN SECRETARY ON HUMAN RIGHTS, PEACE PROCESS, RED CROSS HOSTAGES

REF: A. MANILA 630 (RED CROSS HEAD CONCERNED FOR HOSTAGES)
¶B. MANILA 611 (ADM WILLARD VISIT STRENGTHENS TIES)
¶C. MANILA 563 (BRUTAL MURDER INVESTIGATED AS EJK)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a broadranging discussion March 24, the
Ambassador urged Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Alberto Romulo to ensure the safety of two high-profile
murder suspects if they are extradited from the U.S., and
reiterated the need for continued improvement in Philippine
human rights practices. Romulo stressed the Philippine
government was committed to continuing to improve human
rights and a “culture change” on human rights was at hand.
The Foreign Secretary said that, contrary to media reports,
former UK PM Tony Blair would not be actively involved in the
Mindanao peace process, and lamented that negotiations for
three International Red Cross workers kidnapped by the Abu
Sayyaf Group in Mindanao were in disarray. END SUMMARY.

ASSURANCES ON HIGH-PROFILE EXTRADITION
————————————–

¶2. (C) In a March 24 tour d’horizon with Department of
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, the Ambassador
emphasized the need for the Philippine government to respect
the human rights of two former Philippine police officials
implicated in a nine-year-old murder case and whose
extraditions from the U.S. are still pending. The Ambassador
noted our continuing bilateral law enforcement cooperation
and reiterated the importance, given the many interests
involved, of making sure that the two men will be treated in
accordance with the very highest human rights standards upon
their return to the Philippines. Stressing that the
government wanted the extraditions to proceed quickly, Romulo
assured the Ambassador that the human rights and safety of
former police superintendents Glenn Dumlao and Cezar Mancao
would be fully respected.

SEEKING TO IMPROVE HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
—————————————–

¶3. (C) Turning to human rights more generally, Romulo
acknowledged that the Philippine government was committed to
continuing to improve human rights standards and that a
“culture change” in the government on perceptions of human
rights was at hand, as illustrated by high-level statements
uniformly condemning the recent murder of Rebelyn Pitao (Ref
C), daughter of a terrorist New People’s Army commander.
Romulo said that the Philippine government wanted to do
everything possible to investigate this killing. He thanked
the Ambassador for the proactive U.S. role in working with
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine
National Police (PNP). Still, Romulo admitted that the
Philippine government felt “picked on” for its human rights
problems, which, he said, paled in comparison to problems in
other Southeast Asia countries like Burma. The government
appreciated the collaborative approach of U.S. human rights
programs in the Philippines, which he felt were more
effective than public criticism in achieving positive change.

¶4. (C) The Ambassador noted that she was personally meeting
with human rights groups to hear their concerns and ideas.
The U.S. holds the Philippines to higher human rights
standards, the Ambassador said, because the Philippines is an
open democracy with strong ties to the U.S. The U.S. demands
more from the Philippines because, the Ambassador said, we
know the Philippines is capable of achieving more.

RED CROSS KIDNAPPING “A MESS”
—————————–

¶5. (C) Turning to the three International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) hostages kidnapped in January by the
terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu (Ref A), Romulo
described the situation as a “mess” and lamented that Senator
and Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon’s
involvement in the matter was unhelpful. AFP Chief of Staff
Yano, on the other hand, continued to show exemplary
leadership skills “across the board.” Romulo speculated that
AFP Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, Chief of the AFP Southern
Command, would be a good candidate to lead the AFP after
Yano’s retirement in June, but said that Bangit was not “a
standout” leader like Yano.

MANILA 00000646 002 OF 002

TONY BLAIR AND PEACE PROCESS
—————————-

¶6. (C) Secretary Romulo described former UK Prime Minister
Tony Blair’s visit this week to the Philippines,
acknowledging the usefulness of his positive messages on the
Mindanao peace process. Despite widespread media reports
that Blair would take an active part in the peace process,
Romulo noted that Blair was not specifically asked to play a
role in Mindanao because, as President Arroyo had indicated,
the Malaysians were the official facilitator for the peace
talks, and other third parties could not be brought into the
process without their concurrence.

¶7. (C) Secretary Romulo noted that the Philippines continued
to seek observer status at the Organisation of the Islamic
Conference (OIC), and that at present only two countries
objected to such status — Morocco and Pakistan. Romulo
indicated that he may travel to those countries soon to press
for their support.

BURMA “IMPERIVOUS TO PRESSURE”
——————————

¶8. (C) On Burma, Secretary Romulo expressed frustration at
the lack of movement on addressing human rights issues there,
and said that the Burmese appeared nearly impervious to
outside pressure. He noted that Thailand had scheduled the
series of ASEAN summits for the Easter holiday week — not
ideal for the Philippines, but the Philippine delegation
would nonetheless take part in order to press for continued
progress on key issues, including ASEAN’s human rights
mechanism.

ADMIRAL WILLARD’S VISIT
———————–

¶9. (C) The Ambassador briefed Secretary Romulo on the recent
visit of Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Robert Willard (Ref
B), whose meetings in the Philippines with AFP Chief of Staff
Alexander Yano and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro
underscored the importance and the success of bilateral
cooperation on counterterrorism and other issues.

VETERANS’ BENEFIT
—————–

¶10. (C) Touching on the recently inaugurated program to
compensate WWII Filipino veterans who fought alongside U.S.
troops, the Ambassador explained to Secretary Romulo that the
Manila office the U.S. Veterans Administration hoped to
release checks to Filipino veterans in late April or early
May, and that all claimants would receive a letter indicating
either approval or denial of their claims. The Ambassador
noted that some claims would be denied, and that we could
expect some negative press when that happened. Romulo voiced
gratitude for the new benefit, and said he understood the
situation.
KENNEY

   

 

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