Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/01/08MANILA175.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA175
2008-01-23 10:09
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8725
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DE RUEHML #0175/01 0231009
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231009Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9468
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF 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 02 MANILA 000175

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2018
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS RP
SUBJECT: GOVERNOR OF JOLO SEEKS POLICE ASSISTANCE; GRATEFUL FOR USG HELP

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The Governor of the southern island of
Jolo – where Philippine Armed Forces track high-value
terrorists with direct assistance from U.S. Special Forces –
expressed deep appreciation for USG development and military
assistance, which he said is helping rejuvenate the remote
island. He praised a U.S. “1207” project to extend the
island’s runway to accommodate larger commercial and military
aircraft as critical to opening markets and his people’s
perspectives. Better trained and equipped police will be the
long-term bulwark against terrorism, he said, and asked if
the USG could train police on Jolo. DCM described upcoming
U.S.-Philippine military “Balikatan” exercises, which the
Governor stressed should emphasize civil-military projects
that benefit real people in order to be most helpful in the
war on terrorism. The Governor described his efforts to rein
in wayward insurgents who may provide terrorists safe haven.
We agree with the Governor’s observation that the Philippine
police, especially in Muslim Mindanao, will be critical to
long-term success against terrorism in the Philippines. End
Summary.

Development and Security
————————

¶2. (C) Governor Sakur Tan, an experienced leader whose
father and uncles were gunned down in Jolo in 1972, told DCM
during a private meeting on January 21 that USG assistance
has been critical to his efforts to establish peace and order
on the terrorist-wracked island province of Jolo, Sulu. He
was particularly grateful for the recent U.S. commitment to
expand the Jolo airport runway (via a 1207 program), which he
directly attributes to Presidents Bush and Arroyo, who
briefly discussed the project at the APEC Summit in Sydney
last September. His other development priority was expanding
Jolo’s port, which he planned to discuss with President
Arroyo later in the day. The Governor appreciated the close
cooperation of U.S. Special Forces (JSOTF-P) soldiers and
Philippine military and police, as well as U.S. soldiers’
participation in community events that “attune them to local
cultural sensitivities.” He had already begun coordinating
with the Philippine Marines who will take over command from
the Philippine Army on Jolo. He was pleased with the
proactive posture of the Philippine Marines in western Jolo,
but critical of the inactivity of the Philippine Army in the
east of the island, which he expected to change for the
better when the Marines took over.

Police Assistance
—————–

¶3. (C) Governor Tan emphasized that most challenges to peace
and order – which create space for terrorists – are best
handled by local police, not the Armed Forces. With 1,400
police assigned to the province, Tan said numbers were
sufficient. But training and equipment were woefully
inadequate. He asked if U.S. assistance programs could
provide training and basic equipment, which would help
professionalize the force and keep them on post. Most police
officers are locals, he continued, so a local training
program could have cumulative impact. The Governor described
his progress in dismantling private militias, known as
Civilian Voluntary Organizations, and instituting a gun-ban
in the province, both of which reduced crime and clan
violence. He was working with the Chief of the National
Police to identify a new, younger provincial police chief
from outside the province, who could provide the dynamic
leadership he needed.

Wayward Insurgents
——————

¶4. (C) Governor Tan described his efforts to negotiate with
two rebellious insurgent commanders of the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF), who have been accused of providing
refuge to terrorists. Both commanders wanted to see progress
on the government-MNLF talks on implementation of their 1996
peace agreement, mediated by the Organization of Islamic
Conference. The Governor was lobbying with all sides for the
next round of talks to take place on Jolo Island so that the
commanders and their followers could see the process first
hand, but MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, under house arrest in
Manila, continued to insist that they take place in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia. The Governor believed the wayward MNLF

MANILA 00000175 002 OF 002

commander on the western side of Jolo (Khaid Ajibon), who has
been accused of providing refuge to terrorist leaders, is too
weak to force other local commanders with family ties to
terrorists to turn them in. The wayward MNLF commander on
eastern Jolo (Habier Malik) is a strong leader opposed to
terrorists, but the Armed Forces continued to hunt him after
his uprisings killed civilians and Philippine soldiers.
Despite claims by the Philippine Armed Forces that these
wayward commanders had lost influence due to their lawless
activities, Tan said they remained quite influential on Jolo.

Comment
——-

¶5. (C) The persistent application of U.S. development and
security assistance is making progress on Jolo, as well as
throughout Mindanao. In addition, U.S. public and private
diplomacy is maintaining focus on peace negotiations that can
dramatically shrink terrorist safe havens. The wobbly leg of
this comprehensive approach – in Jolo as in the rest of the
Muslim, southern Philippines – is the Philippine police. The
Philippine police will constitute the bulwark against the
return of terrorists after the Philippine Armed Forces have
eliminated terrorist leaders and redeployed away from Muslim
Mindanao. The police have talented leaders who want to play
their part in the war on terrorists, but their extreme lack
of training and capabilities, if not addressed, means that
successes against terrorism may be short-lived.
KENNEY

   

 

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