Oct 272014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/10/08MANILA2386.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2386
2008-10-22 08:04
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1081
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2386/01 2960804
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 220804Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2134
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002386

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO RP USAID
SUBJECT: HIGHLIGHTING U.S. SUPPORT FOR PEACE AND PROSPERITY IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES

¶1. Summary. During an October 14 visit to the terrorist-affiliated
Southern Philippines island of Jolo, Sulu Province, the Ambassador
expressed solidarity with the people of Mindanao and emphasized the
United States government’s continued support for peace and
prosperity in Mindanao. Groundbreakings for the construction of
airport runway improvements, water distribution system enhancements,
and the construction of a new firehouse exhibited USG commitment to
enhanced infrastructure and economic development. The Ambassador
also visited with local elementary students who are participating in
a community reading program and with local high school students
receiving scholarships to complete their last two years of
education. The visit showcased the depth of USG involvement in Jolo,
as development projects, public diplomacy and defense resources
combine to assist the people and local governments of Jolo and Sulu.
Local residents warmly welcomed the Ambassador and her delegation
and reaffirmed their friendship and partnership with USG.
Ambassador’s trip was widely covered by national and regional media
outlets. End summary.

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JOLO TOWN
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¶2. The city of Jolo is the capital of the island province of Sulu
and part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It is the
largest town in Sulu, and the province’s center of commerce. Tausug
is the dominant language and the population is 94% Muslim. Although
the security situation is much improved in Jolo City compared to a
few years ago, it continues to face challenges due to the presence
of international terrorists. The U.S. Joint Special Operations Task
Force group located in Jolo works closely with the Armed Forces of
the Philippines in carrying out civil-military operations and
providing training.

——————————————— ——-
GROUNDBREAKINGS SIGNAL NEW BEGINNINGS IN JOLO
——————————————— ——-

¶3. Groundbreaking events for two new infrastructure projects
showcased the U.S. commitment and continued support for economic
growth and peace in the Mindanao region. The Jolo Airport Runway
Improvement Project will expand the runway and enable commercial
jets to land, and thus permit the export of Jolo’s products to
national and international markets. Improvements to the Jolo Water
Distribution System will better ensure access to potable water. Both
projects are funded with U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) “1207
Program” resources and are excellent opportunities for USAID, the
Department of State and DOD to jointly plan and develop initiatives
that serve dual development and security objectives. The Ambassador
delivered messages at both USAID-sponsored activities that
reaffirmed the USG support for a peaceful and prosperous Mindanao
region. Governor Tan of Sulu thanked the Ambassador for her
numerous visits and expressed his appreciation for the continuing
U.S. support and friendship.

¶4. The groundbreaking for the new firehouse building, which is
being constructed with assistance from the U.S. Joint Special
Operations Task Force of the Philippines, signaled a new beginning
for the dedicated firefighters of Jolo. The Firefighters expressed
their delight at having a new, modern, and comfortable building.
The Ambassador thanked the firefighters for their hard work and the
local government for their dedication to the safety of the
community. There was a spirited clamor for photographs,
particularly when local women invited the Ambassador to participate
in a traditional dance.

——————————————— —
LUNCH MEETING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS AND PHILIPPINE MILITARY
OFFICERS
——————————————— —

¶5. Governor Tan hosted a lunch at his home for the Ambassador, the
Jolo City Mayor, Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao
Commander, Major General Nelson Allaga, Sulu Military Chief
Brigadier General Juancho Sabban, and mayors from throughout Sulu
Province. During the ensuing in-depth conversation about USG
assistance to Sulu, all parties affirmed their commitment to
development in Sulu through partnership and collaboration. The
local leaders assured the Ambassador that Jolo was committed to
peace and its residents rejected violence and terrorism, and the
Ambassador underscored the continuing U.S. support and assistance
for peace and prosperity. The local military and civil authorities
updated the Ambassador on the overall security situation and
discussed the outlook for peace in Central Mindanao. The local
officials expressed great interest in the upcoming U.S. elections.

——————————– —
A BRIGHTER FUTURE THROUGH EDUCATION
——————————– —

¶6. The Ambassador visited Mohammed Tulawie Central School, where

MANILA 00002386 002 OF 002

USAID has begun a branch of its Village Community Reading program.
Village reading sessions are three days long and are conducted
throughout the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to promote
children’s interest in reading and to increase the participation of
parents, the community, and the local government in education. The
program enjoys overwhelming support in the communities. With the
governor of Sulu province assisting, the Ambassador read to
approximately 100 first graders and then donated books for the
program to the principal of the school.

¶7. The Ambassador also visited Notre Dame de Jolo College, to meet
with scholarship recipients from Notre Dame de Jolo School for Boys
and Notre Dame de Jolo School for Girls School. The students
received English Access Microscholarships from the Embassy Cultural
Affairs section, which allowed them to complete their last two years
of high school at a local private school. Three student leaders
gave brief presentations on their hopes for the future. The
Ambassador related her experiences in reaching for her dreams and
invited local government and military leaders to share their advice
as well. The library at Notre Dame de Jolo College is the site of
the American Corner in Jolo. The Ambassador toured the Corner and
thanked the officer in charge for his service in teaching the young
people and community of Jolo about American culture.

—————-
COMMENT

¶8. The highly positive public reaction to the Ambassador’s trip to
Jolo underscored strong local support for joint U.S.-Philippine
development and security initiatives in Sulu. In both public and
private messages, local government officials and military officers
uniformly praised U.S. assistance efforts in the region. They
strongly endorse continued cooperation on a range of issues from
economic development to education to police and military
cooperation. Despite law and order challenges and widespread
poverty, it is impressive to see the beginning of the transformation
underway in Sulu. The residents warmly welcomed the message of a
continuing U.S.-Philippine partnership for economic growth in Muslim
Mindanao and were adamant in reaffirming their commitment to a
peaceful and prosperous Mindanao.

KENNEY

   

 

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