Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/07/07MANILA2238.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2238
2007-07-02 08:52
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0771
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2238 1830852
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 020852Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7247
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 002238

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2017
TAGS: PGOV MARR PINR RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE DEFENSE RESHUFFLE UNLIKELY TO AFFECT COOPERATION

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, reason 1.4 (d)

¶1. (U) Malacanang Palace announced on June 30 the
appointment of outgoing Congressman Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.
as Secretary of National Defense, effective August 3.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Hermogenes E. Ebdane, Jr. will
return to his previous post as Secretary of Public Works and
Highways, while National Security Advisor Norberto Gonzales
will serve as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of National
Defense until August 3. The DND turn-over ceremony from
Ebdane to Gonzales took place at Camp Aquinaldo on July 2.

¶2. (U) Bio notes: The 43-year old Teodoro, a long-time
Embassy contact, will be one of the youngest Philippine
Defense Secretaries ever. His appointment comes as he faced
the end of three terms (the maximum in succession; his wife
Nikki succeeded him) as Congressman for the first distract of
Tarlac, where his mother’s family — the Cojuancos — are the
predominant landowners. He is a nephew both to former
President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and to the head of the
pro-Administration Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC),
Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. as well as former
Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco. A graduate of law from
the University of the Philippines as well as holder of a
Masters of Law from Harvard Law School, he received the top
score in the national bar examination in 1989, and practiced
law until his election to Congress in 1998. He also holds
the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Philippine Air Force Reserve,
and is an “adopted member” of the Philippine Military
Academy’s Class of 1976.

¶3. (U) Teodoro, who reportedly remains on vacation in the
U.S. with his family, has declined publicly to discuss his
policy or personnel plans for DND. In a statement on June
30, he said, “I am humbled and sincerely honored by Her
Excellency’s (President Arroyo) announcement. I will not
comment any further until I have received the President’s
instructions and guidance.”

¶4. (C) Comment: Many had expected Ebdane’s appointment at
DND to be temporary through the mid-term election season, but
the timing of this reshuffle was still somewhat of a surprise
(even to many senior AFP officials), coming only days after
the annual meetings of the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense
Board and the Security Engagement Board and the visit of
Admiral Keating from PACOM. The logic of appointing Gonzales
as OIC for one month has raised concerns in the leftist
community due to Gonzales’ well-known focus on the Communist
Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army. Teodoro’s ties
in Congress should help in maintaining political support for
the budgetary resources necessary for the ongoing Philippine
Defense Reform, Capability Upgrade Program, and Battalion
Re-training initiatives, as well as winning support for the
ratification of the Philippine-Australian Status of Forces
Agreement. Having a civilian at the helm of DND again is
also welcome to many observers, as this was one of the key
recommendations of the Feliciano Commission after the 2003
“Oakwood Mutiny.” Teodoro is expected to play a key role in
the implementation of the Human Security Act of 2007 — the
landmark counterterrroism legislation that will come into
effect on July 14 — as well as in continuing the push begun
by then-Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, Jr. for a new
National Defense Act that would, inter alia, revamp personnel
and assignments practices. Teodoro showed himself to be a
team player during the 2005 and 2006 impeachment drives
against President Arroyo, as well as throwing his vocal
support behind the ill-fated People’s Initiative for Charter
Change. He is shrewd but personable and appears to be
extremely well disposed to the United States and our
partnership with the Philippines. His combination of
Congressional, legal, and military reservist backgrounds may
poise him to be unusually successful in this demanding job.
Embassy is highly confident that the DND and AFP will remain
firm partners in our counterterrorism and reform efforts on
Teodoro’s watch.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

KENNEY

   

 

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