Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/12/07MANILA3816.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3816
2007-12-03 09:20
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1832
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3816/01 3370920
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 030920Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9055
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 003816

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2017
TAGS: MARR MCAP PREL RP MASS
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT UNRATTLED AFTER FAILED PLOT TO DESTABILIZE PRESIDENCY

REF: A. MANILA 3800 (STANDOFF WITH FORMER COUP PLOTTERS

ENDS PEACEFULLY)
¶B. MANILA 3797 (SENATOR WALKS OUT OF COURT
PROCEEDINGS IN PROTEST

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Paul W. Jones, Reasons 1.4 (b) a
nd (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In the aftermath of Senator Antonio
Trillanes’s failed attempt to destabilize the Arroyo
government on November 29, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo
expressed confidence in the security forces’ handling of the
situation, a gesture which was reinforced tangibly when she
resumed her schedule and departed on a previously planned
trip to Europe on December 2. Economic markets in Manila
paid little attention to the crisis, with investors
discounting the likelihood of serious political instability.
Despite the temporary detention of journalists who remained
with the rebels after police orders to evacuate, overall
reaction to the former coup plotters’ tragicomic attempt to
generate popular opposition to President Arroyo has been
dismissive and derisory. Fifty-one persons have been charged
with rebellion in connection with the event. Ironically,
while Trillanes faces additional judicial and Senate scrutiny
over his actions, this may not spell the end of his political
career. END SUMMARY

—————–
BUSINESS AS USUAL
—————–

¶2. (C) Following the short-lived standoff between
Philippine security forces and mutineer Senator Antonio
Trillanes and chronic coup plotter Brigadier General Danilo
Lim (reftels A and B) at the Manila Peninsula Hotel November
29, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo expressed her full
confidence in the stability of the political situation by
commencing a previously planned trip December 2 to Europe.
Indeed, barely 12 hours after the standoff ended, she and her
husband kept their appointment for a golf outing. The
president also appeared in public on December 1 at a Manila
flea market assuring patrons during a brief outing that the
country was “calm and secure.” Both appearances, along with
her departure for a week-long trip to France, Spain, and the
United Kingdom with a large delegation of cabinet members,
congressmen, and business leaders, underscored her message to
the Philippine people on December 1 after the
insurrectionists had been arrested that Manila and the rest
of the country were functioning normally.

——————————————— ————
HEAVY MEDIA COVERAGE BUT LITTLE SUPPORT FOR DESTABILIZERS
——————————————— ————

¶3. (C) Overall reaction to the serial coup plotters
attempts’ to destabilize the government has been negative.
Immediately after Trillanes and Lim surrendered, Philippine
police took all who were present with Trillanes into custody,
including approximately 50 journalists who declined police
orders to evacuate the hotel. The journalists were released
after being interviewed by police, but their detention has
led a Philippine senator to file a resolution in the Senate
denouncing the journalists’ treatment. While the media
themselves were garnering attention for being detained,
notable events were given less coverage than they might
otherwise have received, including the announcement that the
Philippine economy grew at 6.6 percent in the third quarter,
the fifth straight quarter of strong growth.

¶4. (C) The media coverage of the siege was not indicative
of widespread public support or approval for Trillanes’s and
Lim’s actions. Indeed, all evidence indicates that these
serial destabilizers were unable to generate more than a few
dozen sympathizers. As the incident unfolded, military
leaders ordered the assessment of all troops to check for
possible instability and assured President Arroyo that
Trillanes, a former naval officer, did not have widespread
support from the military. While some columnists and analysts
expressed concern at the detention of journalists,
characterizations of Trillanes’ caper ranged from “poorly
planned” to “a bizarre soap opera” to “delusional.” During
the standoff, Philippine Speaker of the House of
Representatives Jose De Venecia assured some 150 visiting
foreign parliamentarians that the public was “tired of people
power and other extra-constitutional means to overthrow the
government,” and that Trillanes’s stunt “would fizzle out.”

—————-

MANILA 00003816 002 OF 003

FACING THE MUSIC
—————-

¶5. (C) Following their surrender, Trillanes and Lim
immediately were handcuffed, arrested, and taken into
custody. The Philippine Department of Justice filed
rebellion charges against Trillanes, Lim, and 49 others for
their November 29 actions. PNP Chief General Avelino Razon
Jr. told the media that an additional charge of economic
sabotage may be filed against Trillanes and Lim, citing
damages to the Peninsula Hotel. In addition to these
charges, Trillanes is facing previous charges for his role in
the failed 2003 Oakwood Mutiny against the Philippine
government, contempt citations issued by the trial judge when
he left the courtroom on November 29, military charges, and
Senate disciplinary action. Lim has been under detention and
on trial for his role in a February 2006 failed coup attempt.

——————————-
TRILLANES’ SENATE SEAT IN LIMBO
——————————-

¶6. (C) While prior to this most recent destabilization
attempt it appeared Trillanes would be pardoned for the
Oakwood Mutiny, such a possibility now seems remote.
Pro-administration Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a
motion on December 3 to expel Trillanes from the body before
departing for Europe with President Arroyo. The Philippine
Constitution provides that the Senate, with a vote of
two-thirds, may impose disciplinary measures, including
suspension or expulsion, for acts of “disorderly behavior” by
a fellow senator. Senate President Manny Villar noted that
it would be unlikely for the Senate to seek custody of
Trillanes for the recent charges, but the Senate may consider
such disciplinary action. However, Villar’s fragile majority
is composed of 15 senators, one short of the two-thirds
required, and it is unlikely that some of those, particularly
Gregorio Honasan, who himself was charged in the 2003 Oakwood
Mutiny, would support such action. Senate Minority Leader
Aquilino Pimentel vowed to block any procedural sanctions
against Trillanes, arguing that the judicial proceedings
should be allowed to take their course.

————————————
ECONOMIC MARKETS UNPERTURBED BY NEWS
————————————

¶7. (C) Financial markets paid little attention to the news
that Trillanes, Lim and a few followers had attempted to
destabilize the government again. The Philippine stock
market closed at noon Thursday in advance of Friday’s
national holiday, and the dollar slumped slightly at the end
of the day. Monday opening positions seemed to be entirely
unaffected, as both the stock market and the peso were up.
The Embassy expects the overall economic impact of the
November 29 events to be negligible. Most investors already
have discounted their investments for political instability,
and by their standards, Trillanes’ actions were fairly
insignificant. The impact of international media coverage
will do little to affect the number of tourists, mostly
Asians, who mostly visit resorts far from Manila in the
archipelago.

¶8. (C) COMMENT: A variety of factors contributed to the
destabilizers’ failure: a clear chain of command in the
Philippine government; coordinated, swift police and military
action; a growing, if cautious, respect among the public for
rule of law; and Trillanes’s failure to create the
broad-based support among the clergy, protest groups, and the
military. It is highly probable that Trillanes and the
others planned their exit from the courtroom and the
subsequent march to the Peninsula Hotel since members of
their group were in position at the hotel and armed when
Trillanes and Lim arrived. From the beginning, it was clear
that the civilian authorities were in charge, and the
coordinated police-led response by security forces reflected
the strength of the communication between Armed Forces Chief
of Staff Esperon and Philippine National Police Chief Razon.
The short duration of the standoff — less than six hours —
did not allow Trillanes time to muster support from potential
sympathizers, if any. Finally, Trillanes grossly overplayed
his hand. He may have planned the walkout and staged the
activities at the hotel, but he underestimated the public’s
desire for political differences to be settled by the
democratic process, rather than by intimidation. Questions
remain as to how Trillanes was able to organize the handful
of participants in the standoff and to what extent,

MANILA 00003816 003 OF 003

supporters are still in the wings, awaiting another chance to
lash out against President Arroyo. Whether or not the serial
nature of Philippine destabilization attempts is coming to an
end remains to be seen, but it appears their ability to rally
mass support has waned. END COMMENT.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.