Oct 252014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/02/09MANILA218.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA218
2009-02-03 00:32
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1252
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DE RUEHML #0218/01 0340032
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 030032Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3044
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MANILA 000218

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2018
TAGS: PGOV EAID PINR PREL PHUM KISL RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE DEFENSE SECRETARY BELIEVES TIME IS RIGHT TO BUILD ON MIL-MIL COOPERATION

REF: A. 2008 MANILA 2730: TRANSITIONING THE
U.S.-PHILIPPINE MILITARY RELATIONSHIP
¶B. 2008 MANILA 2727: AMBASSADOR AND DEFENSE
SECRETARY DISCUSS SECURITY IN SOUTHERN
PHILIPPINES

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a wide-ranging discussion with senior
Philippine defense officials January 29, the Ambassador
emphasized that the United States and the Philippines have
scored a number of successes on the security cooperation and
counterterrorism fronts over the last several years, and that
the Philippines is a valued strategic partner. Secretary of
National Defense Gilberto Teodoro and Chief of Staff of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines General Alexander Yano echoed
the Ambassador’s sentiment, adding that our bilateral
military relationship was on a solid footing. Teodoro said
the Philippine government’s successes against key high value
individuals of the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah
terrorist organizations were achieved despite persistent
shortfalls in logistical assets, and validated the
contributions of U.S. military personnel to the improved
combat capability of Philippine forces. With a new
administration in Washington and presidential elections for
the Philippines set for May 2010, Teodoro said that now was
the time to showcase the depth of the U.S.-Philippine
relationship in a variety of areas, including
counterterrorism operations, disaster relief, and
multilateral engagement. Looking forward, Teodoro and Yano
emphasized that continued U.S. military assistance was
necessary and that expanded programs could provide greater
improvements in areas ranging from regional security to human
rights. END SUMMARY.

————————————-
STRONG BILATERAL DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP
————————————-

¶2. (C) During a lengthy breakfast meeting at the
Ambassador’s residence, Philippine Secretary of National
Defense Teodoro and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) General Yano on January 29 discussed their
vision of how U.S.-Philippine ties could be expanded in the
coming months. Teodoro and Yano were accompanied by
Teodoro’s Senior Military Advisor, Defense Undersecretary
Alberto Valenzuela, and Defense Undersecretary Antonio
Santos. Engaging the Ambassador and embassy officers on a
wide range of topics, the Philippine officials opened the
breakfast by emphasizing that the U.S.-Philippine military
relationship was firmly rooted in mutual values and
objectives and that the Philippine government should make
every effort to ensure that audiences in Washington were
aware of the Philippines’ commitment to growing their
partnership with the United States.

¶3. (C) Teodoro said that the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense
Treaty, which has been in place since 1953, could not be
underestimated in importance and that it bolstered the
already strong historical ties between the two countries in
numerous ways. He cited the successes achieved through
Philippine Defense Reform (PDR) with sustained U.S.
assistance, and said that with the PDR set to conclude with
his tenure in 2010, he had authorized his staff to complete
two additional components in the next 16 months: a study of
Philippine counterinsurgency doctrine based on current
practices, and a review of information and psychological
operations to determine the most effective way to build
support for government efforts. Teodoro and Yano stressed
that the next level of the U.S.-Philippine military
relationship would go beyond combat training to look at
broader strategic objectives. From increased ship visits to
robust bilateral exercises to a national focus on
civil-military and humanitarian activities (ref A), Teodoro
stressed that the Philippine government welcomed U.S.
military engagement and that his government was working to
streamline administrative processes so bilateral activities
proceed smoothly.

—————————
LOGISTICAL NEEDS A PRIORITY
—————————

¶4. (C) While confident that the AFP now has the combat
capability to handle its internal security threats, Teodoro
and Yano both acknowledged that logistical needs were a
glaring deficiency and a top priority. However, Teodoro

MANILA 00000218 002 OF 004

lamented that the limited Philippine defense budget prevented
the purchase of big ticket items necessary for the AFP to
prosecute the war on terrorists and at the same time provide
vital year-round support to disaster relief and humanitarian
operations throughout the country. When the Ambassador
queried Teodoro and Yano about specific assets the Philippine
government could best use, Teodoro noted that a team of
subject matter experts provided by the U.S. Department of
Defense were key to implementing a broad restructuring of
various military management systems under PDR, and he
requested the team be retained through 2010. On immediate
equipment needs, Teodoro and Yano unhesitatingly agreed that
C-130 transport aircraft and multi-role night capable
helicopters were critical and should be procured through
government to government channels to avoid potential
accusations of corruption in the process. Teodoro said that
with six C-130 aircraft — in comparison with only a single
aircraft currently in service — and additional helicopters,
significant gaps in logistical support could be remedied.

——————————————— —–
EXPANDING HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, DISASTER RELIEF
——————————————— —–

¶5. (C) Apart from specific transportation needs, Secretary
Teodoro repeatedly mentioned that additional USG resources
for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief would be
valuable in providing a tangible example of the benefits of
the U.S.-Philippine military alliance (ref B). He remarked
that while some critics find common ground in criticizing
U.S. military training and field exercises, those same
critics have difficulty in attracting support when they
attack humanitarian assistance, such as civil-military
operations. The need across the Philippines for such
activities is great, said Teodoro, not just in conflict areas
such as central Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, but also
in impoverished areas that are perennially wrecked by
typhoons and other natural disasters, such as Bicol in the
central Philippines — the site of civil-military events
associated with this year’s Balikatan bilateral military
exercise.

¶6. (C) Planning the government’s response to calamities is
a large part of Teodoro’s portfolio. As Secretary of
National Defense, Teodoro also has responsibility for the
National Defense Coordinating Council and reportedly spends
up to sixty percent of his time on disaster relief issues,
giving weight to his emphasis on this perennial problem in
the Philippines. The Ambassador concurred in general that
expanded civil-military operations, particularly those
associated with disaster assistance, were an area the Mission
would continue to explore.

——————————————— –
PHILIPPINES PLAYING INFLUENTIAL ROLE IN REGION
——————————————— –

¶7. (C) The Ambassador took the opportunity to thank Teodoro
and Yano for the role the Philippines is playing as a partner
in the region. The Philippines has advocated for better
integration within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN), particularly on Burma, human rights, and in pushing
for greater multilateral cooperation within the forum.
Teodoro said he clearly had seen increasing interest in the
region from outside players, including India and China. On
several occasions during the breakfast, Teodoro noted that
the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) disaster relief
exercise being hosted by the Philippines in May will be an
excellent opportunity to build on the well-established
relations that the Philippines has with its neighbors,
particularly as it relates to humanitarian assistance during
natural disasters, a problem shared by countries throughout
the region.

¶8. (C) The Ambassador raised the possibility of broadening
U.S.-Philippine military exercises to include observer
nations, a proposal that Teodoro said was feasible given that
a procedure for entry to the Philippines for third country
military personnel had been established for the ARF disaster
relief exercise. He did, however, state that continued
tensions with Malaysia over border issues in Sabah made
military-military cooperation between the Philippines and
Malaysia somewhat challenging. In addition to praising the
Philippine role in ASEAN, the Ambassador lauded General Yano
and Secretary Teodoro for the Philippines consistent presence
in international peacekeeping operations. A signatory to the
Global Peace Operations Initiative in 2008, the Philippines

MANILA 00000218 003 OF 004

contributes almost 700 military and police to eight United
Nations peacekeeping missions worldwide.

————————-
CURRENT SECURITY CONCERNS
————————-

¶9. (C) Teodoro and Yano both stressed that although the
security situation in the southern Philippines had improved
significantly in the last couple of years, key high-value
individuals remain on Jolo and Basilan islands (ref B).
Teodoro opined that a focused campaign, to include disarming
the populace on Jolo and Basilan in advance of the 2010
national elections, would be necessary to reduce the
influence of insurgents and terrorists operating in the Sulu
Archipelago. The blatant kidnappings on Jolo of
International Committee for the Red Cross workers and the
abduction of three teachers transiting from Zamboanga to
Basilan this month highlighted the continuing challenges to
Philippine military and police efforts to secure key areas in
the southern Philippines. Teodoro and Yano welcomed
continued USG military assistance in pursuing remaining high
value individuals in the Sulu Archipelago and in providing
training and other assets towards that effort.

¶10. (C) Turning to the Philippine government’s fight
against the New People’s Army (NPA), Teodoro said that the
strategy was not to focus on the NPA’s ideology, as it no
longer had one. Instead, the government would highlight the
group’s erosion into purely criminal activity in public
messages, further decreasing support for the NPA. Teodoro
compared the government’s success against the Abu Sayyaf
Group (ASG) to that of its efforts to break down the NPA as
an organization. The end result in both cases was that the
groups were having difficulty organizing themselves beyond a
local level, and communication among leadership had become
increasingly ineffective as government forces made inroads
into both NPA and ASG strongholds.

———————————-
EMPHASIS ON HUMAN RIGHTS ESSENTIAL
———————————-

¶11. (C) The Philippine government’s ongoing efforts to
stabilize areas of the country under the influence of lawless
or terrorist elements continues to lead to armed clashes with
a variety of groups. The Ambassador commended the Philippine
military’s disciplined operations in the southern Philippines
and elsewhere, but noted that a persistent focus on human
rights was essential to eliminate abuses by security forces,
including extrajudicial killings. Secretary Teodoro agreed,
saying that approaching the issue of human rights from a
strictly moral perspective was not sufficient, but rather
that soldiers and law enforcement personnel had to understand
that applying policies that indoctrinated a respect for human
rights at all levels of the institutions would lead to
greater credibility among the public and stronger respect for
law and order. The Ambassador added that the Mission had
developed a comprehensive agenda of events to address human
rights in various fora over the next six months, including
training and seminars for military officers and enlisted
personnel, an effort which Teodoro and Yano said they fully
supported and much appreciated.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶12. (C) Teodoro was open in his desire to see the
Philippines “hype its successful cooperation with the U.S.”
and believes it is time to raise the level of U.S.-Philippine
mil-mil cooperation, based on previous counterterrorism
success and improvements in the Philippine military’s
capabilities. At the same time, Teodoro acknowledged the
Philippine government must address corruption and make the
country more attractive to foreign investment, particularly
from U.S. businesses. Although Teodoro touts Philippine
sovereignty, he also has said that Filipinos cannot confuse
patriotism with suspicion of foreign investment and
assistance. A potential presidential candidate in 2010,
Teodoro has maintained a hawkish stance on Mindanao and is
skeptical of the peace process with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF). Nevertheless, he respects President
Arroyo’s desire to return to negotiations and recognizes the
need for continued discipline by the Philippine military as
it pursues high value individuals in the Sulu Archipelago and
conducts operations against rogue MILF elements in central

MANILA 00000218 004 OF 004

Mindanao.
KENNEY

   

 

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