Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2840 2005-06-22 05:14 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 002840



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2015


¶B. MANILA 2731
¶C. MANILA 2730
¶D. MANILA 2689
¶E. MANILA 1988

Classified By: Political Officer Timothy Cipullo
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Leftist groups, most of which are aligned
with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army
(CPP/NPA), appear to be lining up with mainstream opposition
elements in efforts to unseat President Arroyo. Leftist
groups, which have the ability to turn out protesters, are
planning to join upcoming anti-Arroyo rallies. Student
leftist groups are also becoming increasingly active. So
far, there is no sign that the NPA is increasing the tempo of
its guerrilla attacks. While the left’s activities are
potentially a headache for Arroyo, it remains unclear how
closely leftists will be able to work with pro-Estrada and
other opposition elements in forming a joint movement. In
addition, there is little sign as of yet that Filipinos are
prepared to join anti-government demonstrations on a
large-scale basis. End Summary.

Left Plans Non-Violent Action

¶2. (C) Leftist groups, most of which are aligned with the
CPP/NPA, appear to be lining up with mainstream opposition
elements in efforts to unseat President Arroyo. Teodoro
“Teddy” Casino, a congressman representing Bayan Muna, a key
leftist party, told poloff on June 16 that his party was
working closely with other leftist groups “to force” a change
in the government. Casino said Bayan Muna was convinced that
Arroyo had become extremely vulnerable due to recent
disclosures related to taped presidential conversations and
“jueteng” (illegal gambling) (see reftels). Underscoring USG
support for the rule of law and the welfare of the Filipino
people, poloff urged that Bayan Muna work constructively
within the system, and not undermine democracy and stability.
Casino insisted that his party and its allies would work
peacefully: “We will not support a violent change in

Upcoming Rallies

¶3. (C) Casino added that the left was actively encouraging
rallies and demonstrations that it hoped would culminate in a
new “people power” movement that would displace Arroyo. He
also confirmed that the left remained open to “tactical”
alliances with other opposition groups in planning
anti-Arroyo events. Contacts have confirmed that leftist
groups are planning to join upcoming anti-Arroyo rallies. A
planned June 24 rally will attempt to join leftist groups and
mainstream opposition elements associated with former
president Joseph Estrada, former presidential candidates
Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Brother Eddie Villanueva,
and others. Contacts have confirmed that the June 24 rally
will include leftist “party list” groups, such as Bayan Muna,
Anakpawis, Gabriela (which represents women), and Kilosang
Mayo Uno (KMU — a militant trade union). Longtime activist
priest Father Joe Dizon, who is helping to link the left and
other opposition elements, confirmed to poloff on June 20
that the combined effort was “driven by common feeling that
the truth of the 2004 election should come out.” Dizon said
the organizers were expecting a very broad “front” of “over
20,000” to assemble peacefully at the same spot in downtown
Manila where a similar June 11 rally fizzled after an
uninspiring turnout of fewer than 5,000 people (see ref B).
Dizon told poloff that additional rallies were planned in the
July timeframe.

Student Left Active

¶4. (C) Student leftist groups are also becoming increasingly
active. Leftists at the University of the Philippines, who
control the student council, and other GRP-funded colleges
and universities are effectively using the Internet and cell
phone texting to broadcast anti-GMA messages. (Note:
Compared to the situation at state-funded schools, students
at Catholic and other private universities, such as Ateneo
and La Salle, do not seem as active at this time.) These
students have been particularly effective at distributing
copies of the tapes, including a popular cell phone ring
tone, on which President Arroyo appears to be engaged in
discussions with an election official about the margin of her
victory in the May 2004 election. Students have also held
small anti-government rallies at several universities.
Leftist students are also engaging in occasional “street
theater” activities in and around Manila meant to generate
anti-GMA publicity. Gilberto Teodoro, a pro-Arroyo
congressman, told Acting Polcouns on June 20 that he had not
seen students this active since the successful 2000-01 effort
to remove Estrada.

No Uptick Seen in NPA Activities

¶5. (C) So far, there is no sign that the NPA — the
military/terrorist wing of the CPP — is increasing the tempo
of its guerrilla attacks in order to take advantage of
Arroyo’s troubles. One CPP/NPA website asserted that the
current “Gloria-gate” scandal was part of the “continuing
crisis of the ruling system” and repeated a traditional NPA
call for the left to take actions “to weaken the Arroyo
regime.” CPP/NPA leader Jose Maria Sison — in exile in the
Netherlands — and other party officials have not been quoted
as indicating that any sort of armed offensive is imminent,
however. Nonetheless, some contacts are concerned that the
NPA may well increase its activities. Senator Ralph Recto
recently told Acting Polcouns that he thought the NPA would
probably ratchet up attacks in order to augment pressure on
the Arroyo administration.

¶6. (C) At this point, Mission has not detected any
activities beyond the usual consistent pattern of tit-for-tat
incidents involving the NPA and the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP). A notable recent incident occurred June
12 in the province of Pampanga, located northwest of Manila,
when a group of soldiers killed 14 members of a pro-NPA rebel
group. In retaliation, on June 13, a group of some 20 NPA
guerrillas killed at least nine AFP soldiers in an attack in
Ilocos Sur Province which is located north of Manila. In
Samar Island in the Central Philippines, AFP Major General
Jovito Palparan announced that he had requested that
reinforcements be moved to the region to counter NPA forces.
Samar has long been a hotbed of the NPA insurgency.


¶7. (C) The left can bring protesters out on the street and
its activities are a potential headache for Arroyo. It is
unclear, however, how closely the left can work with
pro-Estrada and other opposition elements. The two groups
have very little in common, save for their anti-GMA views.
Despite the political volatility that has erupted over the
tapes and the jueteng allegations, the NPA has not
demonstrated that it is capable, at least as of yet, of
exploiting the situation to its advantage. Observers say
that attacks in urban centers such as Manila would be a
tripwire indicating a NPA attempt to ramp up the pressure.
Malacanang appears to be adopting a wait-and-see strategy in
the hope that its opponents’ efforts run out of steam and, in
any case, there is little sign thus far that Filipinos are
prepared to join anti-government demonstrations on a
large-scale basis.

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