Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1259.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1259 2006-03-21 07:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO6164
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1259/01 0800725
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 210725Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0084
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001259

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/21/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINS ECON PREL PINR SOCI RP
SUBJECT: LOCAL ISSUES — NOT MANILA POLITICS — DOMINATE DEBATE IN NORTHEASTERN PROVINCE

REF: A. MANILA 0830

¶B. 05 MANILA 2470
¶C. 05 MANILA 2064

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Based on emboffs March 16-17 visit, recent
political turbulence in Manila appears to have garnered
little attention in Isabela Province in northeastern Luzon.
Governor Grace Padaca, the 2006 Ninoy Aquino Award for Public
Service winner, remains popular, but faces entrenched
opposition. With mid-term elections slated for 2007, issues
such as illegal logging and land reform are likely to
dominate the local political debate. Our soundings in
Isabela reflect what we have heard in other areas outside of
the capital — Manila politics are far, far away and are
often viewed dismissively. End Summary.

———————————
Disconnected from Manila Politics
———————————

¶2. (SBU) Recent political turbulence in Manila appears to
have had little impact in Isabela — a large, mainly rural
province located about 200 miles northeast of Manila. During
March 16-17 meetings with poloff and pol LES, local
politicians and activists, religious leaders, and students
expressed a distinct lack of interest in Manila politics.
Practically all interlocutors reported that President
Arroyo’s State of National Emergency had “no impact” in
Isabela and life went on normally. (Note: The State of
National Emergency was imposed on February 24 and rescinded
on March 3 — see ref a. End Note.) While the State of
National Emergency was in effect, there was only a trace of
local opposition to the measure, with only one small
demonstration taking place in the capital city of Ilagan.
Several observers expressed the view that Manila politicians
were out of touch with the needs of citizens in the rural
Philippines, adding that Manila’s constant political
infighting did not have much impact on day-to-day life in the
provinces.

¶3. (SBU) Mainstream Opposition groups, in general, do not
appear to have a large profile in the region. A majority of
contacts expressed dissatisfaction with President Arroyo’s
job performance, however. She apparently improved her image
a bit by visiting Isabela in December 2005 and again in
February 2006 in the wake of floods that destroyed crops and
displaced many residents. President Arroyo, contacts said,
moved quickly to release relief funds to improve flood
control and rebuild flood-affected areas.

¶4. (C) Elements of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA)
appear to exert influence in some parts of the province.
Police Superintendent Abraham Balderas basically dismissed
the NPA as a threat to the region, however. He told poloff
that there had been one attack by the NPA during 2005,
resulting in the death of one police officer. (Note: Other
sources report that at least four armed clashes occurred
between NPA forces and government security forces in 2005.
In addition to some mountain redoubts, there is also evidence
that the NPA may exert some influence in Ilagan. End Note.)

——————-
Padaca’s Priorities
——————-

¶5. (C) In a March 16 meeting, Governor Padaca stated that
her priorities for the province were to fight corruption and
inefficiency and to provide productive employment for the
citizens of Isabela. Most contacts believe that she is doing
a good job and that she maintains high popularity. She is
not without her detractors, however. Padaca, a former radio
commentator and 2006 Ninoy Aquino Award for Public Service
Fellowship winner, won the governorship in 2004 by upsetting
incumbent Faustino Dy Jr. in a fiercely-fought contest. The
Dy Family, which had held the governorship continuously for
over 40 years, staunchly opposes Padaca and plans to try to
retake the governorship in 2007. The Dy clan — which
maintains a reputation for corrupt dealings and violence —
continues to be a powerful political force in the province,
with vast land holdings and control of two mayoral positions
and a seat in Congress.

—————————–

MANILA 00001259 002 OF 002

Looking toward ’07 Elections
—————————–

¶6. (C) Governor Padaca told poloff that she had not yet
decided whether to run for re-election in May 2007. (Note:
National mid-term elections for House and Senate seats, as
well as gubernatorial and mayoral races, are set for that
timeframe. There has been some discussion of postponing
mid-term elections as part of the ongoing debate over
Constitutional change. End Note.) If she chooses not to
run, she may endorse longtime ally Congressman Edwin Uy.
Benjamin Dy, a presidential advisor and the half brother of
the defeated Faustino Jr., is set to try to reclaim the
governorship for his family. (Note: Although Dy is a
Malacanang adviser, President Arroyo reportedly also
maintains cordial ties with Governor Padaca. End Note.) In
addition, Delfinito Albano, the Mayor of Ilagan, has
announced his intention to run. The gubernatorial election
likely will turn on a few key local issues, including illegal
logging and land reform.

¶7. (C) Re the first matter, Padaca has launched a strenuous
crackdown by banning all logging. In doing so, she has won
the approval of civil society groups and environmentalists.
Her position is also aligned with that of the Catholic
Church, which strongly opposes widespread logging because of
the environmental damage it causes. (Note: Some experts
believe that recent floods were exacerbated by deforestation
caused by illegal logging. End Note.) During a March 16
meeting with poloff, Ilagan Deputy Mayor Jose Marie Diaz
indicated that Mayor Albano likely will try to use the
logging issue to his advantage in the upcoming campaign,
arguing that the total ban was destroying the livelihood of
the many Isabelinos engaged in the furniture industry.

¶8. (C) Leaders of the Indigenous People’s Consultative Body
expressed frustration over the slow progress of land reform.
Under a program administered by the National Commission of
Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), two indigenous tribes are slated
to receive parcels of land in the Sierra Madre mountain
range, based on claims of ancestral domain. No land has yet
been redistributed, however, because the program lacks
funding to conduct sustainability assessments as required by
law. Indigenous peoples are upset that Padaca has not been
able to do more in this area. Padaca is also being
criticized by some local residents for failing to secure
sufficient government funds for various local projects.
Congressman Anthony Miranda, an ally of Governor Padaca’s,
told poloff on March 16 that many of his constituents were
complaining of reduced agricultural subsidies from the
government in Manila.

——-
Comment
——-

¶9. (C) Our soundings in Isabela reflect what we have heard
in other areas outside of the capital — Manila politics are
far, far away and are often viewed dismissively. Filipinos
living outside the hothouse atmosphere of the capital are
generally far more focused on the bread-and-butter issues of
livelihood and provision of services (and their own local
political dramas). They are not consumed with the buzz from
Manila, which so occupies the capital’s political and
chattering classes. The surprise 2004 victory of Governor
Padaca over an entrenched political dynasty represented a
shock to the traditional local power structure. So far,
Padaca appears to be doing an excellent job at governing.
The Dy family is ruthless, however, and will continue to
challenge her at every step.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

Kenney

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.