Sep 152014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA1056 2005-03-07 06:46 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 MANILA 001056



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2015


Classified By: (U) Political Officer Paul O’Friel
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. The second in a series of USG-GRP staff
talks on the development of counterterrorism cooperation
scenarios produced progress, with a notable “climate change”
on the RP side in the wake of the February 14 terrorist
bombings in Manila and Mindanao. The two sides reached
consensus on a maritime and land scenario, and will focus on
developing detailed mission analyses in the next round of
talks, scheduled for mid-March. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) February 21-25 counterterrorism scenario discussions
between US Pacific Command and Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) and Department of National Defense (DND)
staff counterparts built upon January 12-14 working-level
meetings (reftel). Leaving aside — for the moment — the
legalistic concerns of the earlier session, the thirty-plus
GRP participants — ranging from DND Undersecretary for
Policy Antonio Santos to the AFP “J” and service staffs —
came fully prepared and ready to focus on practical maritime
and land scenarios. Acknowledging the impact of the February
14 terrorist bombings on his government, DND Assistant
Secretary for Policy Melchor admitted, “the climate has


¶3. (C) In identifying realistic options, the USPACOM and GRP
staffers developed a matrix that listed: activities both
sides considered “legal” and acceptable; activities that the
AFP considered “borderline,” but still feasible; and,
activities that would “test” the limits for either the USG or
GRP, e.g., Filipino pilots flying US aircraft or US aircraft
flying close air support for Filipino forces.

¶4. (C) Philippine Navy and Marine officers discussed in
detail the concept of an “operational box” in the AFP’s
Southern Command area of Mindanao, out of which US Navy
elements could stage for combined operations with Filipino
units in Philippine national waters. Undersecretary Santos
separately commented toward the end of the discussions that
this realistic examination of legalities, training resources,
and popular perceptions demonstrated that the United States
and the Philippines had “come a long way in three years.”
However, Philippine Navy participants expressed concern about
the legality of any maritime scenario unless both sides
clearly defined and agreed upon the nature and extent of
Philippine territorial waters.

¶5. (C) Looking ahead, both sides agreed the next step is to
develop detailed mission analyses for the maritime and land
scenarios. The DND suggested participation in future talks
should broaden to include the Philippine Coast Guard and the
Philippine National Police. Undersecretary Santos also
advocated development of a information campaign to educate
public opinion about USG counterterrorism support for the
Philippines. He noted public opinion surveys indicated that
80-percent of the Philippine population supported the USG
presence and help with GRP counterterrorism efforts. The
information campaign would have to address the vocal
20-percent minority, as well as pockets of resistance even
within the AFP, he noted.

¶6. (C) COMMENT. We are encouraged by the progress in the
counterterrorism development talks and attribute much of the
success to the leadership of Secretary of National Defense
Cruz, who appears to have given clear direction to his team
of where to go. However, the devil will be in the details.
The “legal” questions are sure to resurface in the near
future, and we do not discount the power of bureaucratic
inertia and latent misplaced nationalistic sentiment to
derail any consensus, at least temporarily.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website: cfm



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