Oct 232014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-11-14 09:56
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005328



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2015


¶B. MANILA 5137
¶C. MANILA 5126
¶D. MANILA 5023
¶E. MANILA 5018

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (S) Summary/Comment: EAP DAS John underscored the USG’s
firm opposition to the imposition of emergency rule or any
other similar measures during separate meetings with
President Arroyo, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, and
defense officials on November 11. Both Arroyo and Romulo
indicated that they consider emergency rule, as provided for
by the Constitution, to be a legitimate option. Other senior
officials have told us that emergency rule is under active
consideration, but reassured us that it is unlikely to be
imposed imminently. It is unclear to us precisely what
emergency rule provisions are under consideration, and for
what purpose. A National Security Council meeting scheduled
for November 15 may discuss the issue. Charge will continue
to convey to senior officials our opposition to emergency
rule, even within the bounds of the constitution, to senior
officials in the coming days. End Summary/Comment.

¶2. (S) During a November 11 meeting with President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo at Malacanang Palace (septel), EAP DAS Eric
John asked about reports that the Arroyo Administration was
considering emergency rule or other measures in response to
perceived threats from the Opposition (ref A). He conveyed
that emergency rule would raise significant concerns in
Washington. Arroyo replied that the “Constitution defines
what we can do,” asserting that her administration may
legally invoke certain emergency measures. (Note: There are
several provisions under the 1987 Constitution which give the
President certain limited emergency powers. End Note.) DAS
John noted that although such measures technically are
Constitutional, they would still send a worrying signal and
that it would be hard for policy makers in Washington to put
such moves in a positive context. DAS John also pointed out
that the invocation of emergency measures could trigger a
review of U.S. defense-related and other assistance to the
Philippines. The President responded only with a defiant

¶3. (S) DAS John separately reiterated these USG concerns
during a November 11 meeting with Foreign Secretary Alberto
Romulo. Romulo assured John that the GRP would not take any
extra-Constitutional measures, leaving the impression that
Constitutional measures are indeed under consideration. He
added that this government will do “everything the
Constitution allows” to protect its position.

¶4. (S) Senior defense officials appeared to be less
concerned with the possibility of emergency rule during a
November 11 working luncheon with DAS John. Undersecretary
of Defense for Philippine Defense Reform Ernesto Carolina
claimed that the matter was “newspaper talk.” He added that
the public would never support such a move and that most in
the military would not, either. Undersecretary of Defense
for Legal and Priority Affairs Rodel Cruz noted that the
Department of National Defense has, as in the past, been
involved in reviewing measures to take in case of any sort of
national emergency situation “as part of day-to-day
planning.” He stressed that this review was “purely

¶5. (S) In a side conversation on November 8 in Davao City,
cabinet-ranking Chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development
Council “Jess” Dureza told Charge that emergency rule plans
were in place to respond quickly to any extra-constitutional
attack on the government. He acknowledged that some top
officials, such as National Security Advisor Gonzales and
Justice Minister Gonzalez, believed the government was
already under siege by communists, terrorists and political
opponents, but he doubted that the President would use
emergency powers in the absence of a strong provocation. He
said he would use the opportunity of a National Security
Council meeting scheduled for November 15 to argue against
any preemptive use of emergency powers.

¶6. (S) During a dinner in honor of DAS John on November 11,
Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia raised emergency rule
consideration with A/DCM, claiming that the “alliance” of
party list leftists in Congress, the New People’s Army, and
Opposition figures might make such a step necessary. He said
that his own efforts to achieve Constitutional change and
improve the political system were actually aimed in part at
undermining the temptation to resort to such measures. After
defending the possible need for emergency measures at length,
de Venecia claimed that he was “physically and emotionally
exhausted” and would leave the Philippines if ever such
measures were adopted, as he had during the Marcos martial
law period.

¶7. (S) Comment: It is clearer than ever that consideration
of such emergency measures is ongoing at very senior levels.
Not clear is: whether any decision is imminent; what form
emergency rule would take; or whether it might be imposed
preemptively or only in response to a serious attack on the
government. DAS John’s visit provided a timely opportunity
for a senior USG official to underscore our opposition
unambiguously, a theme we will continue to reiterate at every
opportunity, including upcoming meetings with Executive
Secretary Ermita and National Security Advisor Gonzales.


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