Oct 252014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/05/08MANILA1177.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1177
2008-05-15 09:29
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4931
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1177/01 1360929
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150929Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0725
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001177

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2018
TAGS: MARR MASS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: PACOM COMMANDER AND AMBASSADOR CALL ON NEW ARMED FORCES CHIEF OF STAFF

REF: MANILA 1144

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Meeting with new Chief of the Philippine
Armed Forces Alexander Yano on May 14, the Ambassador
emphasized that Philippine counterterrorism successes had won
attention from senior U.S. policymakers, and that the USG
stood ready to continue with assistance. Commander of the
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) Admiral Timothy Keating
discussed his May 12 trip to Burma and upcoming high-level
military meetings between U.S. and Philippine officials,
congratulating Yano on the victories he had achieved against
terrorists and insurgents throughout his career. Yano
thanked the Ambassador and Admiral Keating for their support
and said he looked forward to broadening the range of U.S.
training and assistance activities for the Philippine
military. We have an excellent relationship with Yano, whom
we know well from his previous role as Army Chief. END
SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) PACOM Commander Admiral Keating and the Ambassador,
along with Embassy officers, called on newly designated Chief
of the Philippine Armed Forces Alexander Yano on May 14.
Admiral Keating provided a readout of his May 12 stop in
Burma with USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore to deliver the
first load of U.S. relief supplies in the aftermath of
Cyclone Nargis. Admiral Keating said U.S. forces in the
region stood ready to ramp up assistance immediately and that
we hoped the Burmese would accept more U.S. aid. General
Yano lamented that the Philippine government had a medical
team ready to deploy to Burma, but they had been unable to
obtain visas from the junta. He said that now was the time
for the Burmese government to consider human suffering first
and put aside political differences.

¶3. (C) The Ambassador and Admiral Keating congratulated
Yano on the successes he had won against terrorists and
insurgents in his previous position as Philippine Army Chief.
The Ambassador remarked that these successes had garnered
positive attention from senior U.S. policymakers, with
Keating emphasizing that he was confident that the
U.S.-Philippine partnership would continue to strengthen
across the range of bilateral and multilateral issues that we
work on together. Admiral Keating said he thought the
upcoming Shangri-La Dialogues in Singapore at the end of May
and the PACOM-hosted Mutual Defense Board/Strategic
Engagement Board and Chiefs of Defense Conference proposed
for August would provide excellent opportunities for General
Yano to engage with high-level U.S. officials, including
Secretary Gates, on military-military issues.

¶4. (C) Clearly pleased with their visit, Yano thanked the
Ambassador and Admiral Keating for being the first foreign
dignitaries to call on him in his new position and for the
strong support the Philippine Armed Forces had received in
building their institutional capabilities and in the fight
against terrorists, particularly in his native province in
Mindanao. Yano reflected on his cooperation with U.S. forces
in the successful hunt for Abu Sayyaf Group leader Khadaffy
Janjalani, which culminated in Janjalani’s death at the hands
of Philippine forces in January 2007. He noted that since
that time he had seen the close relationship between U.S. and
Philippine forces grow even stronger. Keating agreed and
said that he hoped to see continued U.S. training of
Philippine forces at a mutually agreeable pace. Citing the
mutual benefits both sides reap from such training, Keating
said, “We want our young soldiers to experience Philippine
culture and the many wonderful facilities and ranges you have
here.” Yano concurred, adding that Philippine officers and
enlisted soldiers alike greatly benefited from the alliance.

¶5. (C) Hinting at his future plans for the Armed Forces,
Yano said that he planned to continue pressing the fight
against communist and Muslim terrorists, but would also
broaden the Philippine military’s focus on humanitarian
activities, an initiative started under his predecessor,
General Hermogenes Esperon. Winning the war against poverty
through infrastructure and economic development, Yano said,
is going to be key to eliminating insurgencies. At the same
time, Yano said, the military must prepare to cede power to
law enforcement as security is established in conflict zones.
Yano told the Ambassador and Keating that he was at the
Philippine Military Academy with Philippine National Police

MANILA 00001177 002 OF 003

Director General Avelino Razon and that he looked forward to
working closely with the police to align training so that it
provides the greatest benefit to the Philippine people in the
form of security and stability.

¶6. COMMENT: General Yano and Admiral Keating met previously
during a reception aboard the USS PELELIU, while the ship was
visiting the Philippines in July 2007. The two already enjoy
a warm relationship as evidenced by Yano’s fond memory of the
reception and their conversation. Yano is well known to the
Ambassador and the Embassy, and the mission has enjoyed an
excellent working relationship with him throughout his
career. He is expected to make his mark quickly on the Armed
Forces, although it appears he is still working out staffing
issues as only his J2, J3, and deputy J5 were present at the
meeting. While soft-spoken, Yano is firmly in command, as
evidenced by his quick action on May 14 when he publicly
dispelled rumors and press reports that the AFP would offer
bounties to soldiers to help defeat the New People’s Army.
In a nationally-televised interview, Yano said he expects
soldiers to perform their duties professionally, without
expectation of reward, a strong message to troops and the
media alike. In his position as Chief of the Armed Forces,
Yano will be the subject of intense scrutiny from all
sectors, and he is already showing his ability to handle
pressure with a calm and reassuring demeanor. END COMMENT.

¶7. (SBU) Admiral Keating did not have a chance to clear
this cable before departing Manila.

——————————–
BIOGRAPHIC NOTES ON GENERAL YANO
——————————–

¶8. (C) Lieutenant General Alexander Yano was installed as
the 38th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces on May 12, 2008,
after 10 months as Commander of the Philippine Army. Yano is
considered one of the most capable and experienced officers
in combating terrorism in the Philippines. As Chief of Staff,
Yano has vowed publicly to intensify the fight against the
Abu Sayyaf Group and the New People’s Army. Yano is the first
Mindanao-born military officer to assume the top position in
the military. Yano is seen as loyal to President Arroyo and
a strong advocate against military adventurism, as evidenced
in his speech at the change of command ceremony (reftel). He
has undergone training for various military career fields to
include Special Forces Operations and Intelligence. Yano, who
graduated from the U.S. Infantry Officer Advanced Course in
1986, engages easily with U.S. civilian and military
officials and interacts well with PACOM. We judge he will be
open to strengthening Strategic Engagement Board activities.

¶9. (C) General Yano spent the early years of his career in
combat assignments in Central and Northern Luzon and the
provinces of Samar during the height of the communist
rebellion in the 1970s and 1980s. Since 1992, his
assignments have focused heavily on the Mindanao region. He
was the commander in charge during a November 2001 hostage
crisis in Zamboanga, Mindanao. Yano’s professional handling
of the situation, in which over 300 fully armed fighters from
the Moro National Liberation Front had taken more than 100
hostages in a city building, led to the release of the
hostages. Later he was appointed as Chairperson of the
Government Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of
Hostilities with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front based on
his past successes and understanding of the intricacies of
the Mindanao conflict.

¶10. (C) PERSONAL DATA: Alexander Yano was born in
Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, on June 13, 1953. He is the
eldest of five children, and his parents were public school
teachers. His brother Cesar is a colonel in the Philippine
Army. Yano is married to Estela Aragon Yano, a retired
military nurse, and has a son, Ervin Andrew. Yano initially
studied engineering in Cebu before entering the Philippine
Military Academy (PMA). He is an accomplished athlete, and
while at the Philippine Military Academy, set records in the
high jump and the 400-meter hurdles, and was a boxing and
karate champion. One of his first acts as Chief of Staff was
to issue a call to all personnel of the Armed Forces to
uphold the highest standards of personal discipline and
physical conditioning, a testament to his ascetic nature.

Education:

MANILA 00001177 003 OF 003

– Cebu Institute of Technology – Civil Engineering
– Philippine Military Academy – Class of 1976
– U.S. Army Infantry Officers Advanced Course in 1986

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

   

 

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