Oct 232014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3154 2005-07-08 09:55 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 03 MANILA 003154



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/08/2015


¶B. MANILA 3139
¶C. MANILA 3133

Classified By: Political Officer Andrew McClearn for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The chorus has grown for President Arroyo
to step down. Former president Corazon Aquino held a press
conference late July 8 and called on President Arroyo “to
make the supreme sacrifice” and resign. Several members of
her former cabinet also called for her resignation on July 8,
as did Senate President Franklin Drilon, who was speaking for
the majority of the Liberal Party (LP), and the influential
Makati Business Club. Some members of her former cabinet
went on TV in her defense, as did the Speaker of the House.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Abu has pledged
that the military will not intervene, and that it will uphold
the law and the Constitution. Charge went on a TV news show
on July 8 to underscore the USG’s full support for the rule
of law, and he opposed any possible extra-constitutional or
extra-legal moves. End Summary.

The Pressure Grows

¶2. (SBU) The chorus has grown for President Arroyo to step
down. As foretold to Charge by former finance secretary
Purisima earlier (ref B), former president Corazon Aquino
held a press conference late July 8 and called on President
Arroyo voluntarily and peacefully to give up her post.
Aquino said she had visited Arroyo on July 7 and asked her
“to make the supreme sacrifice” and quit, and to do it “as
soon as possible.” Aquino asserted that governmental
institutions had become paralyzed, and that “good governance
has become an impossible undertaking.” Aquino suggested
there were two options for the President to take: the first,
for Arroyo voluntarily to resign and let Vice President Noli
de Castro assume the presidency, according to the
Constitution; and the second, for Arroyo to face impeachment
and provoke a long and drawn out period of political sparring
that would ultimately weaken Filipino democracy.

¶3. (U) Six former Cabinet Secretaries and four other high
officials separately called on President Arroyo to resign
during a July 8 press conference. (Note: Per ref C, Arroyo
had asked for all members of her Cabinet, to submit their
resignations. End Note.) Together, the ten officials had
formed the nucleus in Arroyo’s Cabinet to implement economic
reforms and basic social service programs. The ten members
of this group were:

— Cesar Purisima (Secretary of Finance);
— Juan Santos (Secretary of Trade and Industry);
— Emilia Boncodin (Secretary of Budget Management);
— Guillermo Parayno (Commissioner, Bureau of Internal
— Alberto Lina (Commissioner, Bureau of Customs);
— Teresita “Ging” Deles (Secretary, Office of the
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process);
— Corazon “Dinky” Soliman (Secretary of Social Welfare and
— Florencio “Butch” Abad (Secretary of Education);
— Rene Villa (Secretary of Agrarian Reform); and,
— Imelda Nicolas (Secretary, National Anti-Poverty

¶4. (U) In a signed statement issued at the event, the ten
noted that they would support the ascension to the presidency
of Vice President De Castro after Arroyo resigned. They
claimed they were not judging the President regarding her
involvement in the recent scandals, yet they claimed that if
she stayed in power the country would suffer, stating: “The
longer the President stays in office under a cloud of doubt
and mistrust…the greater the damage to the economy and the
more vulnerable the fragile political situation becomes to
extremists seeking to undermine our democratic life.” The
ten former officials immediately left the press conference
without entertaining questions.

¶5. (U) Arroyo also lost the support of important allies of
her administration throughout July 8. Senate President and
LP President Franklin Drilon, long a staunch ally of the
Arroyo administration, announced July 8 that the majority of
the LP wants Arroyo to resign. In an earlier vote among
party members, 20 had voted for her resignation (including
Drilon), 11 voted to pursue Arroyo’s impeachment as opposed
to her resignation, one asked her to go on a leave of
absence, and one voted to continue supporting Arroyo.
Meanwhile, the Makati Business Club (MBC), a longtime
supporter of Arroyo, also called on her resign. A July 8
statement signed by the influential group’s chairman and
president stated: “It is with a heavy heart that we ask the
President to relinquish her position…for the sake of the
commonwealth, for the sake of national unity, and for the
sake of moving forward.”

Malacanang’s Defenders

¶6. (U) Some members of her former Cabinet went on TV in her
defense on July 8. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and
Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes rallied behind Arroyo in a
midday press conference. Ermita insisted there was no basis
for the claim that Arroyo lacked the leadership and capacity
to govern. In response to media questions about the damaging
resignations by the majority of the members of Arroyo’s core
economic team, Secretary Romulo Neri of the National Economic
Development Agency (NEDA) said that reforms would continue
and belittled Purisima for his decision to attack the
President. Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz attended the
briefing, but did not speak.

¶7. (U) Speaker of the House Joseph de Venecia also stated
that he did not think Arroyo’s resignation was necessary. He
said it was important, however, that Arroyo move promptly to
sponsor the holding of a “Constituent Assembly” that would
create a parliamentary-type system. Pro-administration
lawmakers from the House of Representatives also held a press
conference in which they underscored their support for the
Arroyo administration. The legislators urged Arroyo to stand
firm and welcome “new blood to be injected into the cabinet.”
Prominent leaders at the event included Arroyo stalwarts
such as Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Rep. Ronaldo Puno, and
Rep. Marcelo Libanan.

Military Pledges Not to Interfere

¶8. (U) On July 8, AFP Chief of Staff General Efren Abu
issued a widely publicized directive entitled “Conduct of the
Armed Forces” to all “Major Service Commanders, Unified
Commanders, Commanding Generals, Commanding Officers, and AFP
support units.” Abu said the ongoing appeals for Arroyo’s
resignation are part of a political and constitutional and
legal process, and it is the AFP’s duty to ensure freedom of
expression and not interfere in that process. Any AFP
intervention would “betray the trust given to (it) by the
State and would certainly put (its) understanding of military
professionalism in the eyes of the world in doubt,” he
declared in the directive. Abu also appealed for the AFP to
“reestablish the noble tradition of military professionalism
by insulating our officers and men from politics,” and for
all commanders to “act swiftly against any behavior that
challenges or breaks away from the chain of command.”

¶9. (C) As of late July 8, the Philippine National Police
(PNP) is on high alert. Director Vidal Querol, chief of the
PNP’s National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), told the
media the alert is a standard move to keep the peace and
maintain order. Legatt reports that NCRPO, other local PNP
commands, and the National Bureau of Investigation have
confirmed they will support the rule of law and will remain
neutral as the situation unfolds. The AFP is likely to
follow suit by increasing its own alert status, which also is
not unusual. Military contacts report no extraordinary troop
movements. There are several rallies taking place in Manila
on July 8, but no reports of violence.

Mission Reaction

¶10. (SBU) Charge gave a TV news interview on July 8 and
underscored the USG’s full support for accountability and the
rule of law, and opposed any possible extra-constitutional or
extra-legal moves. He encouraged Filipino leaders from all
sides to focus on the “welfare of the Filipino people,” and
reassured the audience that the USG would assist this process
“by ensuring and insisting on the rule of law and democratic
processes.” Charge stated USG opposition to a new round of
“people power.” He also expressed disappointment over the
obligatory Cabinet resignations demanded by Arroyo on July 7,
noting that it would likely disrupt important reforms
underway, especially recent progress made towards economic
modernization and the fight against corruption. Charge
described several of the recently resigned Cabinet
Secretaries as “patriots, good and decent people,” whose

competence was highly respected in the international
community, and whose loss will be a blow to the Arroyo
administration and the GRP.


¶11. (C) The pressure on Arroyo is growing. Aquino and her
former Cabinet members’ demands on Arroyo to resign was a
real blow. Aquino is highly respected in Catholic and civil
society circles. Purisima and his group command respect in
many sectors of Philippine life and their attacks will
resonate. The Makati Business Club is also highly
influential and its decision to turn against her is very
damaging. If the Catholic Church bishops, who are having
their annual meeting this weekend, come out and ask for her
resignation, Arroyo will be in even more serious political
trouble. Abu’s directive was a welcome step and should
provide some ballast to a volatile situation. The good news
is that events at this point are moving forward in a legal
and constitutional manner. Mission continues to underscore
the need for full adherence to the rule of law and to make
clear our total opposition to any extra-constitutional or
extra-legal moves.




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