Oct 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/09/07MANILA3049.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3049
2007-09-10 10:01
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXYZ0004
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHML #3049/01 2531001
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101001Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8176
INFO 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 MANILA 003049

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2017
TAGS: MARR MASS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE ARMED FORCES CHIEF OF STAFF VOICES STRONG SUPPORT FOR NEW DEFENSE SECRETARY

REF: MANILA 3033

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

¶1. (C) Summary: In a private September 7 meeting with the
Ambassador, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes
Esperon, addressed recent command changes and the emphasis on
restraint in the wake of the July and August attacks on
Philippine military units on Basilan. He also reiterated the
need for continued cooperation with the USG, including in
developing civilian infrastructure, in Mindanao. The general
said that he continues to enjoy the strong support of
President Arroyo and offered a favorable assessment of the
new Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro. End Summary.

Command Changes a Positive
————————–

¶2. (C) Citing recent changes to the command structure of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), General Esperon said
he was pleased with the new assignments and that they
reflected an attempt to try and achieve a balance between the
services so that the top commanders feel they have a chance
to rise. The general invited the Ambassador without
reservation to visit the new commanders and to inaugurate
additional U.S.-sponsored development projects in the region
and welcomed future projects. He specifically encouraged the
Ambassador to meet the new AFP engineering battalion in
Basilan that will be part of the National Development Support
Command, bringing infrastructure improvements to the island.

Learning from Difficulties
————————–

¶3. (C) The Ambassador told Esperon that she thought the AFP
had maintained strong public support with its measured but
very firm response to brutal attacks by terrorist groups and
Muslim insurgents in July and August that included the
beheadings of ten Filipino marines. Esperon agreed, saying
that he was pleased with the progress on Jolo and Basilan,
and that although there is always the tendency for the public
to overreact and criticize, in this instance, he directed the
commanders to learn from these difficult experiences and not
be distracted by media reports or public opinion. Esperon
referred to the attacks on Basilan on July 10 as a a “series
of bungles” on the part of the commander. Following strong
cultural norms, rather than remove the commander immediately,
Esperon chose to wait until a regular troop rotation a couple
of weeks later, thereby allowing the commander to avoid
public embarrassment. The general specifically requested
U.S. assistance with intelligence and information gathering
on Basilan, saying it would help the AFP in their efforts to
track down terrorists.

Excellent Cooperation with Political Leadership
——————————————— —

¶4. (C) Turning to the political front, Esperon characterized
new Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (reftel)as “absolutely
focused on Philippine Defense Reform” and being “very plugged
into the process,” despite being on the job just over a
month. Esperon said that Teodoro was politically savvy and
had a good feeling for the military. “He wants to be
everywhere,” Esperon said, and underscored his approval of
Teodoro saying he would support Teodoro “forever — he is
going places.” Esperon lauded Teodoro’s desire to keep
defense reform effort moving, adding that Teodoro recognized
that retraining was more important than equipment at this
stage. “We may not have a world class military, but we are
working our way there,” Esperon told the Ambassador.

¶5. (C) Comment: The Ambassador meets regularly with General
Esperon, but on this occasion, Esperon was particularly
laudatory of the role the USG plays in helping to track down
terrorists while also improving civilian infrastructure and
the economy in Mindanao. Several times during the
conversation, he repeated his support for the Embassy public
outreach in Mindanao, emphasizing that he or Defense
Secretary would be available to accompany the Ambassador on

SIPDIS
any public appearances designed to highlight U.S.-Philippine
cooperation, especially on Mindanao. End Comment.

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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