Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA4224 2005-09-07 10:05 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 SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004224



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2015


Classified By: Political Officer Joseph Saus
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)
Governor-elect Zaldy Ampatuan has promised to embrace a
transparent and consultative leadership platform that would
focus on the Mindanao peace process, local education needs,
health care, and agriculture. Mission will work to establish
a good working relationship with Ampatuan, who expressed
eagerness to continue US assistance programs and who agreed
to an in-depth briefing by USAID upon assuming office on
September 30. However, there is concern in some circles that
Ampatuan may simply serve as a proxy for his powerful
political boss father, and not govern the ARMM effectively.
End Summary.

Zaldy And Friends Meet The Mission

¶2. (C) Charge, A/DCM, USAID Director, and poloff met with
ARMM Governor-elect Zaldy Ampatuan, at his request, on August
¶31. Accompanying him were Zamzamin Ampatuan (Convenor of the
National Anti-Poverty Commission), Shamron Ampatuan (Mayor of
Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao Province), and Bassit Accoy
(incoming ARMM Technical Advisor). (Note: Zamzamin and
Shamron are Zaldy’s second cousin and nephew, respectively.
Zamzamin is a close Embassy contact, well known for his
articulate and moderate views of Islam, who had previously
served as Executive Director of the Presidential Office of
Muslim Affairs. End Note.)

¶3. (SBU) Ampatuan identified his top priorities for the ARMM
as: the peace process; education for his constituents; health
care; and agriculture. He pledged that his leadership will
be transparent and in close consultation with ARMM

Peace Process And Education

¶4. (SBU) Zamzamin (not Zaldy) did most of the talking when
it came to specifics. It is important to remain “realistic”
regarding the peace process and closely to review all
provisions, according to Zamzamin. Zaldy noted that improved
education, health, and agriculture could result from a
lasting peace agreement in the region. Regarding education,
Zamzamin explained the long-term financial problems of the
ARMM’s Department of Education have prompted local teachers
to work without some pay and benefits for several years.
Zaldy promised to address these problems by improving the
economy and countering Muslim extremism through better
education. Zamzamin added the ARMM lacks the funding,
resources, and training capacity to incorporate a nationally
mandated secular/Islamic curriculum.

Agriculture And Industry

¶5. (SBU) Zaldy noted there is plenty of idle land available
for agriculture and stressed that fisheries are also
important for the coastal regions and island provinces of the
ARMM. To attract investment, Zamzamin cited a tax incentive
that facilitates the importation of farm machinery. Zamzamin
also cited Malaysian and Chinese interest in developing
strategic minerals and possible petroleum deposits in the
Liguasan Marsh and the Sulu Sea.

Health Care

¶6. (SBU) According to Zamzamin, 80-percent of ARMM’s budget
goes to “personnel,” and what is left cannot support the
ARMM’s programs, including health care. As a result, the
ARMM needs to find additional sources, including from
international donors. Charge and USAID Director highlighted
the US-funded network of midwife clinics, which Zamzamin
agreed were an important contribution.

Peace and Stability

¶7. (SBU) The Ampatuans noted that several family members,
including Zaldy’s brother, have died in bombings or ambushes
resulting from clan rivalry-related violence. Zamzamin
stressed that local roads could help security forces move
against suspected terrorists or criminals. He requested a
continuation of the “Arms to Farms” Livelihood Enhancement
Assistance program for ex-combatant rebels.

Mission Looks To Continued Partnership

¶8. (SBU) Charge and other Mission officials pledged to
continue close cooperation with the ARMM and described a
variety of ongoing programs, mostly funded by USAID. We
offered to provide an in-depth briefing by USAID officials,
which Zaldy asked to defer until he takes office on September
¶30. He said that he planned to invite Charge and other USG
officials to the ceremony. He expressed eagerness to work
with USAID.


¶9. (C) Many in Mindanao and Manila have expressed concern
over the 37-year old Zaldy’s poor personal reputation and
belief that he will merely act as a proxy for his father, the
Ampatuan patriarch and political boss, especially in
Maguindanao. Others fear that he will concentrate on
Maguindanao to the detriment of other areas in the ARMM. The
ARMM faces serious economic and developmental problems; Zaldy
will need much more than good fortune and family influence to
get the region on track. Mission will seek to work
productively with Zaldy, as with his predecessor, in order to
continue our outstanding programs that have already
contributed so much to the expansion of peace and development
in the Philippines’ poorest region.

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http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

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