Oct 242014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-09-22 08:01
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) MANILA 4466 (B) Manila 4433 (C) MANILA 4417

(D) MANILA 1674

¶1. Anti-government, pro-opposition daily “The Philippine
Daily Inquirer” printed another in a series of daily
articles summarizing and analyzing purported classified US
Embassy reports on the front page in its edition of
September 23. Following is the full text of the article.


“SPECIAL REPORT: US Report Details Coup Plotters’ July
Meet” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9/23/05)

THE US EMBASSY in Manila “quietly” put contingency
plans in place when it received inside information that
a plot against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was
discussed at a meeting in July of 20 to 30 active
military officers.

In an “informal assessment” prepared by a “senior USG
(US government) policy-maker” dated July 30, the
embassy detailed the conduct of the meeting attended
mostly by Filipino Army and Navy officers based in
Metro Manila. It said the “initial meeting” was
chaired by a former member of the Young Officers Union.
But the name of the officer and those of the other
officers present were blacked out in the document,
which was obtained by the Inquirer from a source who
requested anonymity. The report also said a veteran US
diplomat had privately expressed concern about the
consequences if Ms Arroyo were seriously challenged,
“noting she would not go gracefully.”

“USG cannot fully discount the possibility of a near-
term attempt to oust Arroyo but sees no chance of
success in the absence of a visible opposition
politician who would face the many challenges
confronting the country,” the three-page report said.
“We have nonetheless quietly readied our task force
capabilities, aided also by a recent crisis management
exercise,” it said, adding: “In July 2003, we also saw
no chance of disgruntled AFP (Armed Forces of the
Philippines) elements successfully mounting a coup, but
this reality did not prevent them from trying to do
so.” It was apparently referring to the “Oakwood
mutiny” of July 28, 2003, wherein junior officers took
over a building of serviced apartments in the heart of
Makati City’s central business district.

‘Militics’ The report, one of several supposed files
of the US government obtained by the Inquirer, showed
that American agents were able to monitor a meeting of
military plotters and to learn how potential recruits
were being indoctrinated. It is believed to be among
the estimated 100 documents downloaded by Filipino-
American intelligence analyst Leandro Aragoncillo from
US Federal Bureau of Investigation files, for which he
is facing espionage charges along with former
Philippine National Police Senior Supt. Michael Ray

The report said the “clandestine meeting” included a
lecture on “militics,” or the link between military
might and politics, and how this had supposedly been
used by the Arroyo administration to the disadvantage
of the AFP. “[What was stressed were the] inequities
within the branches of the Philippine military,
specifically citing higher pay for police than military
officers and differences in both policies and
compensation among military officers,” it said. The
report said that the legitimacy of the Arroyo
presidency was challenged at the meeting, and that a
call was made for “change, even violent change.”

‘Be prepared’ “[Another point made was] the need to
support the country, professing that allegiance to
country was different [from] support for the
government,” it said. The chair of the meeting
encouraged the active officers “to be prepared to
respond by abandoning their posts and announcing their
defiance of government control when the time comes,”
according to the report. It said “a nebulous plan” was
presented, “to effect chaos and mutiny, allowing the
establishment of a governing council led by responsible
The report said US Embassy officials had spoken with
then AFP Chief of Staff General Efren Abu and were told
that there were indeed “reports of grumbling in the
military involving junior officers.” “Abu acknowledged
a ‘gap’ between junior and senior officers, but said he
did not think there was a serious problem despite the
current political situation,” it said.

The report was prepared after the worst of the
political crisis to buffet the Arroyo administration —
which included the resignation of six Cabinet members
and four key government officials — occurred on July
¶8. On the same day, former President Corazon Aquino
and Senate President Franklin Drilon, both former
allies of Ms Arroyo, called on her to step down.

‘Itching for action’ The July 30 report also
mentioned a rumor, “peddled by an opposition fringe
activist,” that a new group of young officers might be
“itching for action, ‘with or without civilian
participation.'” It said: “Arroyo and members of her
team have asserted that the opposition is making
charges relating to ‘jueteng’ and the [Hello Garci]
tapes as part of a wider destabilization plot.
Meanwhile, Malacaang has not proffered solid evidence
that any plot is actually under way, nor what its time
frame might be, although security forces claimed that
some retired officers were involved in ‘active
recruiting’ for a destabilization plot…”

In a June 2 report attributed to then US Charg
d’Affaires Joseph Mussomeli, the US Embassy identified
two groups looking to oust Ms Arroyo — one made up of
field-grade and junior officers, and the other, of
“flag officers.” “The volume and frequency of rumors
that a military coup to oust Arroyo is imminent have
increased,” the June 2 report said. It was only in the
July 30 report, however, that the US Embassy said it
had taken precautionary steps in the event of a coup

‘Common fare’ US Embassy documents in the possession
of the Inquirer, dated as early as February 2005, have
mentioned coup reports and rumors, and dismissed these
as “routine.” “We recognize, however, that rumors of
coup plots are pretty common fare these days,” said an
embassy report dated April 14.

It appeared that the US Embassy had been monitoring
coup talk since early this year, when the political
crisis had yet to be triggered by allegations of
receiving jueteng payola against members of the First
Family and the “Hello Garci” tapes. “A few fringe
politicos have regaled us with innuendo about plots to
seize power. There is a lot of such talk on the
streets, and it has caught the attention of the
embassy,” the April 14 report said. It said that
during discussions on political stability, Ms Arroyo
seemed to take the coup threats seriously.

Arroyo conduct. “[The President] expressed no doubts
about the credibility of these coup threats. Arroyo
also made mention of previous, apparently inaccurate,
reports that had claimed destabilization efforts were
imminent,” the report said. “Arroyo appeared to listen
closely to the opinions of Executive Secretary Eduardo
[Ermita] and Defense Secretary Avelino ‘Nonong’ Cruz
when the Cabinet debated threats to the
administration,” it said.

From the April 2 report, it appeared that US agents
were closely monitoring not only coup threats but also
the conduct of the President’s meetings with her


¶2. A second article in the “Philippine Daily Inquirer”
of 9/23/05 printed reactions of Filipino politicians
named yesterday in an alleged USG report profiling
political leaders in the country (ref A).


“Gee, Thanks, Uncle Sam; Lucky Pols Mighty Pleased”
(Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9/23/05)
The US Embassy’s profiling of the Philippines’ “up and
coming political leaders” has pleased some of the
senators listed in a May 10 report filed by political
officer Andrew MacLearn.
Senators Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Richard Gordon and
Ralph Recto admitted to being somehow flattered by the
positive assessment in the report. But they quickly
added that they did not give much thought to how the
Americans had been sizing them up.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, son of ousted President Joseph
Estrada, responded with a hearty laugh to the
assessment that he and his half-brother, San Juan Mayor
Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, could make a run for the
presidency on account of their father’s enduring
popularity. “It’s not for me but for the Filipinos to
decide,” said an apparently tickled Jinggoy. “All
presidents believe it’s destiny.” At any rate, he
said, it was also “too early to decide” whether he
would seek reelection or run for a higher office. “Of
course I’m happy that despite my father being in jail
for four years, his popularity has not waned and has
even improved,” he said.

Roxas made a joking reply when asked about the
assessment that he was “well-placed” for the 2010
presidential race based on his high name recall, his
wealth and other factors, including his girlfriend,
“fashionable media star” Korina Sanchez. “Thank you,”
he said. “Now maybe they will approve my visa
recommendations.” The former congressman and trade
secretary also said running for president in 2010 was

“still too far [to think about].”

Gordon, a neophyte senator, liked being assessed as
someone who “[got] things done” and who was “not afraid
to get his hands dirty. I feel good about that in the
sense that it justifies my family,” said Gordon, a
former Olongapo City mayor, first chair of the Subic
Bay Metropolitan Authority after the pullout of the US
military bases, and ex-tourism secretary. But he said
this accolade and the numerous awards he had received
as a public official were fleeting. “It’s also good to
be patted on the back once in a while, but what is
important is you work hard,” he said. Gordon said it
was unfair for him to be described merely as pro-US
bases, or as an “American boy.” “I am not afraid of
anyone, even Gloria (President Macapagal-Arroyo),” he
said. “I have an American name and I’m proud of it, but
[the Americans] know I can also tell them off.” Gordon
said he had yet to make up his mind on whether to seek
reelection or a higher office. “But I’m humbled by the
fact that money is a problem,” he said.

Picking brains: Recto, another neophyte senator, was
listed as a rising leader who was “driven and
charismatic” and had a potent weapon in the person of
his wife, popular actress and Lipa City Mayor Vilma
Santos. “That’s flattering, but flattery aside, will I
give it much thought?” Recto said. He said some US
Embassy officials visited him at his office a number of
times to discuss mostly economic and tax matters. But
he said he also questioned them on many issues: “They
pick [my] brains and I pick their brains.” Recto said
he was also still undecided about seeking reelection in
¶2007. “I’m afraid of the cost,” he said.

Shrugging it off: Senator Manuel Villar, described as
“paint[ing] himself as an independent thinker” whose
“nationalist posturing” could pit him against certain
US interests, shrugged off the report and said he was
“not saddened” by it. He said he considered it “a
great honor” to be a nationalist. He also professed
disdain at what the Americans said about him: “Hindi ko
pinag-iiintindi yang mga Amerikano.” Villar, president
of the Nacionalista Party, said he had spoken with some
US officials on certain occasions but was not agog over
their visits to his office during busy days.

The senator once had an unpleasant experience with a
Chinese ambassador, whom he threw out of his office for
lecturing him on the disputed Spratly Islands. A savvy
businessman and politician, Villar is also considered
presidential timber. He and his wife, Las Pias City
Representative Cynthia Villar, are owners of a real
estate empire and are the wealthiest couple in





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