Oct 252014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/08/08MANILA1929.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1929
2008-08-12 08:31
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8417
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1929/01 2250831
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 120831Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1591
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC 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 02 MANILA 001929

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2018
TAGS: MARR MCAP PREL PTER RP MASS
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE MILITARY IN CONTROL IN CENTRAL MINDANAO, ASKS U.S. TO LOWER MILITARY PROFILE IN MINDANAO

REF: A. MANILA 1922 (PHILIPPINE FORCES SEEK TO ENFORCE
RULE OF LAW)
¶B. MANILA 1875 (PHILIPPINE FORCES PREPARED BUT
RESTRAINED IN FACE OF VIOLENCE)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: As fighting between the Philippine
military and elements of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
forces entered its third day on August 12, government forces
appeared to be re-gaining control over seized villages in
central Mindanao, with two key Muslim insurgent units
retreating to their command bases. The instability
surrounding the fighting led Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano to request that
all U.S. forces in central Mindanao stay confined to
brigade-level or higher AFP compounds as a precaution against
U.S. personnel being caught up in the violence or accused of
engaging in combat. Secretary of National Defense Gilberto
Teodoro also decided to cancel a joint exercise between U.S.
and Philippine Air Force units scheduled to begin August 16.
Recognizing the sensitivity surrounding the situation in
Mindanao, the Mission recommended canceling the August 12
planned port call of the USS RENTZ in Zamboanga City after
consulting with local politicians, some of whom have been
particularly vocal in their opposition to the draft peace
deal worked out between the Philippine government and the
MILF. Mission personnel have emphasized to senior Philippine
military leaders that they should do everything possible to
try and attend the annual Mutual Defense Board/Security
Engagement Board Executive Committee meeting next week in
Hawaii, but domestic demands could preclude the attendance of
Yano and others. END SUMMARY.

——————————–
PHILIPPINE FORCES TAKING CONTROL
——————————–

¶2. (C) As of August 12, Philippine military forces in
central Mindanao appeared to be gaining the upper hand
against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) 104th and
105th Base Commands, forcing their retreat to safe havens.
The MILF retreat came after three days of sporadic fighting
with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops in central
Mindanao that displaced thousands of civilians. Government
forces have reported few casualties, but heavy shelling by
Philippine units reportedly has wounded and killed a number
of MILF fighters. The MILF forces were hampered in their
ability to wage effective operations by limited logistical
capability and low stocks of ammunition and food.
Additionally, it appears that the government’s previously
developed operations plan (ref B) was successful in cutting
resupply routes for the MILF forces.

——————————————— —
U.S. ASKED TO LOWER PROFILE IN CENTRAL MINDANAO
——————————————— —

¶3. (C) The instability in central Mindanao led AFP Chief
General Alexander Yano to request that U.S. military
personnel in central Mindanao remain confined to
brigade-level or higher AFP compounds. Yano stressed that
this was a precautionary measure due to the large number of
displaced civilians and the continued threat of sporadic
violence in the area. Over 100,000 people have fled their
homes, prompting the United Nations to announce that it would
deliver 400 tons of rice to the afflicted areas to help feed
the refugees. Yano also emphasized that the restrictions did
not apply to U.S. forces in Zamboanga or the Sulu
Archipelago, that they were temporary, and that they were to
help prevent any accusation of U.S. personnel being involved
in the fighting.

¶4. (C) Philippine defense officials’ actions are a visible
sign that the Arroyo administration may be concerned about a
possible negative reaction towards routine U.S. bilateral
military engagement, as detractors attempt to widen the
circle of those they want to criticize for current
difficulties in the ongoing peace process. On August 11,
Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro canceled a
previously scheduled bilateral training exercise involving
U.S. F-15E and Philippine OV-10 fighter aircraft, citing
sensitivities surrounding the current military operation in

MANILA 00001929 002 OF 002

Mindanao and the need to use all Philippine assets for that
campaign. To soften concerns of U.S. military presence in
Mindanao at this sensitive time, the Mission decided to
cancel the August 12 port call of the USS RENTZ to Zamboanga
City after consulting with local officials. While
historically very supportive of U.S. presence in his city,
Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat has expressed discontent with
the Philippine government’s proposed inclusion of some of
Zamboanga’s territory in the new Muslim political entity
being negotiated as part of the peace process.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶5. (C) The speed with which the AFP demonstrated combat
superiority over MILF forces underscores the progress that
has been made in the Philippine military’s ability to plan
and execute offensive operations. At the same time, despite
warnings of an expanded conflict, it appears Philippine
forces are proving they can restore peace and order without
engulfing the entire Mindanao population in a wider war.
Nevertheless, large numbers of displaced civilians are
catching the eye of international organizations and it
remains to be seen how quickly the Philippine government can
render humanitarian assistance to the refugees and return
them to their homes. The Mission continues to monitor the
situation in central Mindanao and how it may affect future
bilateral training activities and other engagement,
particularly at the senior levels. Mission personnel have
emphasized to the Philippine military leadership that they
should do everything possible to try and attend the annual
Mutual Defense Board/Security Engagement Board Executive
Committee meeting next week in Hawaii, but domestic demands
could preclude the attendance of Yano and others. 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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