Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1110.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1110 2006-03-10 07:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO4496
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1110/01 0690741
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 100741Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9869
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001110

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR PREL RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE OPPOSITION: BITTER TOWARD PRESIDENT ARROYO AND STILL DIVIDED

REF: A. MANILA 0995
¶B. MANILA 0889
¶C. MANILA 0830
¶D. 05 MANILA 5947

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for Reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: In recent meetings, Opposition politicians
told poloffs that they will continue to denounce President
Arroyo for her recent imposition (since rescinded) of a State
of National Emergency, asserting that it was poorly
calibrated to meet the nature of any threat posed at the
time. They strongly deny Malacanang claims that the
Opposition is working with the hard left in an effort to
undermine the government. In terms of next steps, they
assert that they will again bring impeachment charges against
Arroyo at the first opportunity this summer. Based on these
soundings, the Opposition clearly remains fragmented, on the
defensive and seemingly without a firm plan on how to counter
Malacanang. End Summary.

———————-
Critical of Malacanang
———————-

¶2. (C) In recent meetings with poloffs, members of the
mainstream Opposition bitterly denounced President Arroyo’s
imposition of a State of National Emergency (Proclamation
1017) on February 24, asserting that the move was poorly
calibrated to meet any threat posed at the time. In a March
8 meeting with poloff, Ramon “Eki” Cardenas, a supporter of
former president Joseph Estrada, claimed that the
proclamation “severely” threatened civil liberties. Ronnie
Zamora, an Opposition Congressman, told Acting Pol/C on March
9 that the State of National Emergency was a form of
“creeping authoritarianism,” a reference to tactics used by
President Marcos during his second term, which ultimately
resulted in the declaration of Martial Law in September 1972.
Despite the lifting of the State of National Emergency on
March 3, Zamora vowed that the Opposition would press forward
with its legal challenges to the proclamation and how it was
implemented. The Supreme Court is currently hearing several
petitions challenging the constitutionality of Proclamation
1017 and a ruling is expected within the next two weeks.

¶3. (C) Cardenas also told poloff that he believed the brief
State of National Emergency was meant as “a warning” to
President Arroyo’s opponents that they should back off on
criticism of her. He asserted, however, that Arroyo’s
actions had only strengthened the Opposition’s resolve to
remove her from office. Cardenas said Opposition members
were not afraid of the possibility of being arrested, adding
defiantly, “the jails can only hold so many.” Expressing a
view held by others in the Opposition, Congressman Alan
Cayetano told Acting Pol/C that he was optimistic that
Malacanang would make “a mistake” and “overstretch,” at which
point the Opposition would take advantage of the situation.

¶4. (C) Contacts also asserted that there were various
conflicting rumors circulating about the USG and the local
political situation. These rumors ran the gamut from reports
that Embassy or USG officials had quietly given the green
light to the State of National Emergency, been involved at
high-levels to urge that the military remain loyal to the
chain of command, and even that the USG had supported a “coup
plot.” Poloffs underscored that the USG policy was not to
intervene.

—————————
Denying Links with the Left
—————————

¶5. (C) Contacts strongly deny Malacanang claims that
anti-Arroyo forces are working with the Communist Party of
the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) in an effort to
oust the government. In a March 9 chat with poloff, former
presidential candidate and leader of the “Jesus is Lord”
religious movement Brother Eddie Villanueva scoffed at the
idea that the Philippine military would align themselves with
Communist rebels, whom they have been fighting for decades.
Lito Banayo, a close associate of Senator Panfilo “Ping”
Lacson, asserted that Malacanang was using the specter of a
leftist plot to justify its actions in going after perceived

MANILA 00001110 002 OF 002

enemies in the mainstream Opposition. Contacts did assert,
however, that certain (unnamed) members of the Opposition
might be “in communication” with “disgruntled” members of the
military. Poloffs underscored that it was vital that the
military respect civilian control and honor the chain of
command. Cayetano, Zamora, and others expressed concern that
the CPP/NPA was benefiting from increasing political
polarization.

————————-
Next Steps for Opposition
————————-

¶6. (C) In terms of next steps, Zamora asserted that the
Opposition would again bring impeachment charges against
Arroyo at the first opportunity this summer. (Note: Per the
Philippine Constitution, the earliest opportunity would be
mid-July, one year after the filing of the last set of
charges, which were dismissed by the House in September 2005.
End Note.) The new impeachment complaint, he said, would
likely recycle old charges of abuse of power and cheating
during the 2004 presidential election timeframe. In
addition, Zamora related, the Opposition plans to bring new
charges stemming from a March 1 Senate committee report that
states that officials in the Department of Agriculture
illegally diverted funds from a national fertilizer fund,
which may have found their way into Arroyo presidential
campaign coffers in 2004 (ref D).

¶7. (C) Cayetano added that the Opposition was planning to
sponsor further rallies against President Arroyo, though
given the lackluster turnout at demonstrations in the recent
past, he had little hope of drawing big crowds. Villanueva
told poloff that “the masses” were dissatisfied with
President Arroyo, but were unable to find a rallying point,
given the lack of a single unifying leader in the Opposition
movement. The Opposition, he commented, was still
“fractured” and held together only by their desire to unseat
President Arroyo. Contacts admitted that disorganization,
infighting and funding problems were endemic for the
Opposition and prevented joint planning and a combined effort
against the President.

——-
Comment
——-

¶8. (C) Based on these discussions and other soundings, the
Opposition clearly remains divided and without clear
leadership. They also remain on the defensive due to
Malacanang’s recent actions and seemingly without a firm plan
on how to hit back. That said, they seem optimistic that
President Arroyo may be overreaching and, in effect, may
provoke a backlash against her government down the line.
Their denial of any link with the CPP/NPA seemed
straightforward, though their murmurings that some in the
Opposition might be in touch with elements of the military
were disturbing.

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/

Jones

   

 

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