Oct 242014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-10-05 09:19
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.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 004776



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2015

¶B. MANILA 3726
¶C. MANILA 3710
¶D. MANILA 3116

Classified By: Political Officer Stephen Worobec
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. Newly elected Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan was sworn into office
on September 30 by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.
Conspicuously absent from the inaugural ceremony were
outgoing ARMM Governor Dr. Parouk Hussin, and Cotabato City
Mayor Muslimin Sema, both of whom are senior members of the
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). During his inaugural
speech, Ampatuan expressed his support for the peace process
in Mindanao and promised a more efficient, transparent, and
accountable ARMM administration that would promote economic
development, provide security, and improve social services.
Executive Secretary Ermita delivered a message from
Malacanang that the nation and international community would
all be watching whether new ARMM officials made good on these
promises. Doing so will require all of the political and
financial muscle that Zaldy’s father, Andal “Andy” Ampatuan
Sr., and the Arroyo Administration can provide. At a well
staged media event held in Malacanang Palace on October 6,
President Arroyo administered a second oath of office to
Zaldy and other ARMM officials. End Summary.

A Royal Family

¶2. (SBU) On September 30, USAID-Philippines director, USAID
Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) program manager, and
poloff attended a filled-to-capacity inaugural ceremony for
ARMM Governor elect Zaldy Uy “Puti” Ampatuan, Vice-Governor
elect Ansaruddin “Hooky” Adiong, and 24 Regional Assemblymen
at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City.
The details of the circumstances of the ceremony provide
fascinating glimpses into the political dynamics in the ARMM.
According to the “ARMM Gazette” – the first issue of which
was distributed at the inaugural – the Ampatuan family traces
its lineage to both native and foreign leaders. Zaldy
Ampatuan’s paternal grandfather, Shariff Aguak, was the great
grandson of Shariff Saidona Mustapha who descended from Arab
rulers, Shariff Jainal Abedin of the Malaya Sultanate of
Johor, and Muhammad Issa, the great, great grandchild of the
Prophet Muhammad. On the maternal side, Zaldy traces his
roots to the Rajah Buayen royalty, the Sultan of Kabuntalan,
and 20th century local Muslim (Chinese) ruler, Piang Tan.

Guests of Honor

¶3. (C) Seated on center stage with Governor Ampatuan and
Vice-Governor Adiong were GRP Executive Secretary Eduardo
Ermita, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southcom
Commander Edilberto P. Adan, Congressman Simeon A.
Datumanong, House Speaker Gerry Salapuddin, Regional
Assemblyman for Basilan Province Hatimil Hassan,
Secretary-General of the National Anti-Poverty Commission

Zamzamin Ampatuan, the Charge d’ Affaires of the Indonesian
Embassy, and the Malaysian, Libyan, and United Arab Emirates
ambassadors to the Philippines.

The Big Four

¶4. (SBU) Among the other guests of honor were three key
members of the political bloc that supported Zaldy Ampatuan
during the August 8 ARMM election: Basilan governor Wahab
Akbar; Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Sahali; and Sulu Governor
Benjamin Loong. (Note: According to an Embassy contact,
former Abu Sayyaf founder/member Wahab Akbar is the closest
of the three governors to the Ampatuan family. Akbar
allegedly “owns” the majority of mayors in Basilan Province,
and as the most powerful figure in Basilan Province was
instrumental in “delivering” the vote for President Arroyo
during the May 2004 election. End note.)

¶5. (SBU) The remaining member of the “Big Four” – Andal
“Andy” Ampatuan Sr., Zaldy’s father, the governor of
Maguindanao, and the patriarch of the Ampatuan clan – was the
last guest of honor to enter the inaugural hall. He made his
way down the aisle wearing sunglasses, surrounded by an
entourage of bodyguards and a swarm of media. After taking
his seat near his son on center stage, Andy removed his
sunglasses in a gesture which seemed to indicate that the
inaugural ceremony – delayed for over one hour – could begin
and so it did.

Hussin and Sema Take a Rain Check

¶6. (SBU) Conspicuously absent from the event – originally
billed as a turnover and inaugural ceremony – were outgoing
ARMM Governor Parouk Hussin, and Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin
Sema, both of whom are senior MNLF members. Hussin has made
no secret of his displeasure with the GRP for its failure to
implement fully the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement, provide
adequate funding for the development of the ARMM, and endorse
MNLF candidates during the August 8 elections. During several
speeches over the past month, Hussin criticized the results
of the ARMM election by mentioning allegations of widespread
electoral fraud.

Zaldy Lays Out His Agenda

¶7. (SBU) “Development” appears to be the operative word for
Governor Ampatuan, for he repeated it during his inaugural
speech no less than a dozen times. While doing so, he
expressed his support for the peace process in Mindanao and
promised to restore trust and confidence in the ARMM through
a more efficient, transparent, and accountable
administration. Among the public services that Zaldy
promised to improve were security, stimulation and regulation
of business activities, protection of domestic entrepreneurs,
and the provision of education, hospitalization, and housing
for the underprivileged.

¶8. (SBU) The only issue Zaldy addressed with any specifics
was the crisis currently facing the Government Service
Insurance System (GSIS). Zaldy said that he intended to
settle this crisis within his first 100 days in office.
(Note. According to press accounts, the House Committee on
Good Government recently issued subpoenas to officials of the
ARMM Department of Education, ARMM Commission on Audit, and
the Land Bank of the Philippines in Cotabato City to produce
documents relative to the non-remittance of an estimated
968.7 million pesos or $17,256,684 US dollars – inclusive of
interest – of compulsory teachers’ contributions to the GSIS
during the period of 1997-2003. Since the subpoenaed
officials failed to produce these documents, the House
Committee has threatened to cite them for contempt. Among
the allegations related to this GSIS scandal is that 283.2
million pesos or $5,030,303 US dollars of funds from the
ARMM’s Department of Education were illegally disbursed
through the Cotabato City branch of the Land Bank of the
Philippines. End Note.)

Message from Malacanang

¶9. (SBU) Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita noted during his
speech that the foreign diplomatic community, international
aid agencies, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC)
countries, MNLF, MILF, GRP, and general populace would all be
watching whether the new ARMM administration made good on its
promises. Several of Ermita’s remarks intimated that Andy
Ampatuan would be playing an important role in his son’s
governorship. After referring to Andy as “the source of
strength for Mindanao,” Ermita said that Andy “will be at
your side to be sure that you succeed.” Other themes of
Ermita’s speech were the importance of rule of law, fiscal
responsibility, good governance, and full implementation of
the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement. Ermita also stressed the
necessity for the new ARMM leadership to work closely with
GRP officials in Manila for budgetary support.

Zaldy Takes the Oath Again

¶10. (SBU) On October 6, USAID-Philippines director and
poloff attended a second swearing-in ceremony for ARMM
Governor Ampatuan, Vice-Governor Adiong, and the Regional
Assemblymen that was held at the Malacanang Palace.
President Arroyo administered the oath of office and used the
event to push her national agenda, including passage of an
anti-terror bill.


¶11. (C) In the wake of the GSIS scandal and the chronic
crisis of confidence facing the ARMM, Governor Zaldy Ampatuan
has considerable house cleaning to do if he is to reform a
bloated ARMM bureaucracy plagued by inefficiency, nepotism,
graft, and corruption. Although Ampatuan appears to
understand that the economic development of the ARMM through
commerce, tourism, and investment hinges on peace, security,
and stability, long-standing tensions exist between the
traditional ruling elite represented by the Ampatuan clan and
the MNLF and MILF in a society where rido (clan conflict)
remains an accepted way of settling differences. Other
looming issues are the continued Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah
Islamiyah presence and the contentious problem of who exactly
will control and reap the profits from natural resources,
e.g., minerals, natural gas, and petroleum, within the ARMM.




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