Oct 272014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MANILA920.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA920
2009-04-29 08:08
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1688
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0920/01 1190808
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290808Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3967
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS 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 000920

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL SENV RP
SUBJECT: FOREIGN SECRETARY ON PEACE PROCESS, ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION AND ASEAN

REF: A. MANILA 903 (FOREIGN SECRETARY CONCURS WITH RAPID
SMITH DEPARTURE)
¶B. MANILA 902 (SEARCH FOR LAST RED CROSS HOSTAGE
CONTINUES)
¶C. MANILA 833 (FOREIGN SECRETARY ON ASEAN BURMA AND
VFA HEARING)

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

¶1. (C) During an April 27 private breakfast with the
Ambassador, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo underscored
President Arroyo’s strong interest in meeting President Obama
to discuss ongoing environmental programs like the Coral
Triangle Initiative, strengthening ASEAN, supporting change
in Burma, and advancing the peace process in the southern
Philippines. Secretary Romulo said he was optimistic that
peace negotiations between the government and Muslim rebels
in Mindanao would soon resume, and he suggested that expanded
U.S. engagement with the rebels could encourage them to be
more flexible in negotiations. The U.S. should expect an
increase in anti-U.S. rhetoric channeled toward the Visiting
Forces Agreement, Romulo speculated, as the Philippines
enters the unofficial campaign season for the May 2010
Presidential elections. He emphasized that President Arroyo
wants to sign a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
compact before her term ends next year, but said the MCC’s
perspective on timing was unclear. END SUMMARY.

PRESIDENT ARROYO SEEKS WHITE HOUSE MEETING
——————————————

¶2. (C) President Arroyo is eagerly seeking a meeting with
President Obama, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo relayed to
the Ambassador during an April 27 breakfast meeting,
following up on their earlier conversations (ref C). As the
“environmental champion” in her own administration, Romulo
said, President Arroyo would like to discuss with President
Obama the Coral Triangle Initiative of Southeast Asia and its
importance from a global perspective. Her planned attendance
at the mid-May Coral Triangle Initiative summit in Indonesia,
Romulo noted, demonstrates her personal commitment to
environmental protection, an issue where she feels akin to
President Obama. President Arroyo would also hope to discuss
the situation in Burma as well as how the upcoming ASEAN
Regional Forum humanitarian disaster relief exercise the
Philippines is co-hosting with the U.S. in May and other
mechanisms could strengthen ASEAN through increased
multilateral cooperation. The state of the peace process
between the Philippine government and the insurgent Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and counter terrorism
operations in the southern Philippines, Romulo said, would
also figure in the discussions.

MINDANAO PEACE TALKS AND A HOSTAGE IN SULU
——————————————

¶3. (C) Expanding on the issue of peace talks, the Philippine
government continues to support an immediate return to peace
negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,
Secretary Romulo said, optimistic that formal talks would
restart soon. He suggested that expanded U.S. engagement
with the MILF could provide a dose of positive encouragement
for the rebels to be more flexible in back-channel
negotiations and make bolder moves toward restarting the
talks. The Ambassador noted that a continued focus on needed
development projects in Mindanao could also help keep the
peace process moving along. Expressing hope that the last
remaining Red Cross hostage of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group
would be rescued safely and swiftly, the Ambassador
encouraged Secretary Romulo to consider how, once the hostage
crisis is resolved, the government could restore citizens’
confidence in the government’s ability to provide security on
the island of Jolo (ref B).

ELECTION SEASON: ANTI-U.S. RHETORIC ON THE RISE
——————————————— —

¶4. (C) Romulo noted that, given the unofficial start of the
campaign season for the May 2010 elections, the U.S. and
Philippine governments should prepare for an upswing in
anti-U.S. rhetoric from leading Philippine political figures.
Philippine Senate hearings on the Visiting Forces Agreement
(VFA) in late May, Romulo said, will give Senate presidential
candidates a platform to voice their complaints about the
nearly 10-year-old agreement, largely as a means to burnish
their nationalist credentials in light of the April 23 Court
of Appeals acquittal of Lance Corporal Daniel J. Smith.

MANILA 00000920 002 OF 002

Romulo expressed relief about the resolution of the Smith
case and thought it appropriate that Smith was quickly moved
out of the Embassy after the Court announced its decision to
acquit (ref A).

SEEKING AN MCC COMPACT, BUT GETTING MIXED SIGNALS
——————————————— —-

¶5. (C) President Arroyo wants to sign a Millennium Challenge
Corporation (MCC) compact before the end of her term,
Secretary Romulo emphasized, but Philippine officials were
confused about the MCC’s expectations and timeline. MCC
officials had discussed with Philippine counterparts the
difficulty of signing an MCC compact before the end of
President Arroyo’s term, but had also mentioned the
possibility of an incremental approach that could offer a
solution. The Ambassador said these issues could be
reexamined upon the return of Philippine Finance Secretary
Margarito Teves from his Washington meetings, which included
discussions with MCC officials. In the meantime, the
Ambassador continued, the Philippines should stay focused on
taking concrete steps to meet the required MCC indicator
targets, particularly on corruption.

MEMORIAL DAY AND RECOGNITION FOR FILIPINO VETS
——————————————— –

¶6. (C) Secretary Romulo thanked the Ambassador for her kind
invitation to be the Mission’s guest speaker at the annual
Memorial Day ceremony held at the Manila American Cemetery
and said he would be delighted to participate if his
scheduled permitted. The Ambassador noted that, as a strong
supporter of U.S. benefits for Filipino war veterans, Romulo
must have felt a great sense of pride to see the successful
resolution of an issue he spent considerable time pursuing.
The Foreign Secretary’s presence at the Embassy’s annual
commemoration of those who gave their lives for their
countries, the Ambassador remarked, would therefore be a
fitting capstone on this important achievement.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.