Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/06/05MANILA2731.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2731 2005-06-14 08:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002731

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/PMBS, INR/EAP, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/14/2015
TAGS: PGOV PINS PREL PINR MOPS RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE POLITICS: ONE WEEKEND AT A TIME…

REF: A. MANILA – EAP/PMBS 06-13-05 E-MAIL
¶B. MANILA 2689
¶C. MANILA 2626
¶D. MANILA 2578
¶E. MANILA 2142
¶F. MANILA 2103
¶G. MANILA 1452

Classified By: Political Officer Andrew McClearn for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo survived
the Independence Day weekend despite protests and calls for
her ouster by members of the opposition. Privately,
high-level Administration officials thanked the Charge for
the USG’s role in calming the waters; Charge reiterated that
our goals were to support of rule of law and to ensure
stability and the welfare of the Filipino people. Arroyo
called for an end to “dirty politics” and “political
intrigues” in public speeches, while her son, Congressman
“Mikey” Arroyo, announced that he was taking a leave of
absence due to allegations that he has profited from illegal
gambling. Susan Roces, the widow of 2004 presidential
candidate Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ), played a key role in
calming tensions through her public remarks. The GRP appears
to be readying to arrest former law enforcement official
Samuel Ong, who publicly confessed to a role in wiretapping
the president. Arroyo has taken some serious hits of late,
which has likely undermined her ability to move forward with
important reforms — notably the adoption of strong
anti-terrorism legislation with updated electronic
surveillance provisions. She may resort to an early
convening of a constituent assembly on Constitutional reform
to break any Congressional logjam. Mission will continue to
urge that Filipinos uphold the rule of law and focus on
constructive approaches, and not become mired in a
self-destructive downward spiral of accusation and
counter-accusation. End Summary.

——————————-
A Long Independence Day Weekend
——————————-

¶2. (C) President Arroyo — amid scandalous accusations —
survived a long Independence Day weekend filled with public
protests, intrigue, and calls for her ouster by members of
the opposition. (Note: The opposition has accused Arroyo of
complicity in electoral fraud based on recently released
tapes and members of her family of profiting from illegal
gambling — refs C and D. End note) Elements of the
opposition held an anti-government rally on June 11, which
drew an estimated 3-5,000 people to a site in downtown
Manila. The rally, which was sponsored by mainstream and
leftist opponents, went off without a hitch or reported
incidents or arrests. According to emboffs on the fringes of
the rally, the crowd was good-natured and seemingly without a
common platform — apart from a shared dislike for Arroyo.

——————-
Officials Thank USG
——————-

¶3. (C) Privately, high-level Administration officials
thanked the Charge for the USG’s role in calming the waters
through our public calls for stability and opposition to
extra-constitutional actions. Foreign Minister Alberto
“Bert” Romulo voiced this view at a diplomatic reception held
on June 11 at Malacanang Palace in honor of Independence Day,
as did Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who subsequently
called the Charge. Ermita said Arroyo had asked him to call
in order to express her “heartfelt appreciation.” Charge
noted to each that USG support was for the rule of law and
its institutions as well as the process of democracy in the
Philippines. He reiterated earlier public statements that
neither side in this controversy should take extraordinary or
extra-constitutional measures. The U.S. was focused on the
welfare of the Filipino people, as that best advanced U.S.
interests, Charge added.

—————————————-
Arroyo Calls for End to “Dirty Politics”
—————————————-

¶4. (SBU) Arroyo called for an end to “dirty politics” and
“political intrigues” in separate public speeches marking
Independence Day. In the June 11 address to diplomats,
Arroyo called attacks on her “irresponsible madness” and
accused her opponents of treating the country as “nothing
more than a private sandbox for political intrigues.” In a
June 12 public address, Arroyo reiterated the theme, asking a
crowd of some 5,000 “to condemn any kind of dirty politics
and focus our attention to the development of our economy.”
The President also promised to rid the country of corruption
by the end of her term in office (2010). Meanwhile, Vice
President Noli De Castro, several prominent senators, and
other high-level officials all issued public statements in
support of the Arroyo administration over the long weekend.
However, Arroyo’s detractors dared her to come forward and
confirm whether the voice on the tapes was indeed hers and,
if so, to answer charges that she was engaged in electoral
fraud (refs B-F). (Note: House and Senate leaders are
looking into whether to hold hearings regarding the tapes.
end note)

¶5. (SBU) As the public pressure ramped up, Mikey Arroyo
announced on June 13 that he would take an “indefinite leave
of absence” from Congress, clarifying that he would not
participate in congressional business until he was cleared of
jueteng profiteering. However, the 36 year-old Arroyo
insisted that resignation was “out of the question,” claiming
he was innocent. Congressman Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, the
president’s brother-in-law, confirmed in a June 13 press
conference that he was also considering a leave of absence,
although he also claimed he had done nothing wrong. On June
8, President Arroyo had issued a public statement asserting
the primacy of the rule-of-law over her family: “Nobody in my
family or kin are above the law and no investigator or
prosecutor could fear to uphold the law against them.” In
response to charges of a potential cover-up by Malacanang,
the President authorized the Office of the Ombudsman to take
over the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the
accusations that Mikey and Iggy were involved in profiting
from jueteng.

————————–
FPJ’s Widow Plays Key Role
————————–

¶6. (SBU) FPJ’s widow Susan Roces played a key role in
calming tensions. On June 11, after a long meeting with
former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Deputy Director
Samuel Ong, who had taken refuge at a Catholic seminary (see
below), Roces emerged and told reporters that “We should not
do a thing that would only add to our problems as a people.
Any step we will take must be in accordance with the law.”
Observers from both sides praised Roces for her moderate
stance and reassuring words. In live broadcast interviews,
Roces insisted she had visited Ong to help ensure his
security and calm everyone down. Roces said she did not
support the call for President Arroyo to resign, and
encouraged Filipinos to think before acting: “I am just here
in cooperation with the desire of the government for peace
and order. I am a law-abiding citizen, I encourage fellow
Filipinos to be so.” Roces — whose petition to carry on
FPJ’s electoral protest was denied by the Supreme Court
earlier this year (ref G) — was also supportive of Ong. She
suggested the audiotape be given a full airing before the
Filipino people, asking “Is there anything wrong if we listen
to this so we can find out if the one now in power was the
real victor?”

———————————–
GRP Plans to Arrest Former Official
———————————–

¶7. (C) The GRP appears to be readying to arrest Ong, who
publicly confessed to a role in allegedly wiretapping the
president in a live TV press conference on June 10. Ong
called on President Arroyo to resign her post, asserting that
she had committed electoral fraud. Immediately after the
press event, supporters rushed Ong to the San Carlos
Seminary, where he sought refuge. Hundreds of security
forces quickly surrounded the seminary, which is located
along EDSA, the major Manila thoroughfare where the two
successful “People’s Power” movements began. Late on June
13, Ong left the seminary and traveled with several Catholic
bishops to an undisclosed residence in the exclusive south
Manila suburb of Ayala Alabang. According to media reports,
the Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering filing a case
against Ong for “Inciting to Sedition.” Secretary of Justice
Raul Gonzalez said the GRP would wait until a court issued
the arrest warrant before it moved to apprehend Ong.
Gonzalez admitted any move to arrest Ong would be a sensitive
operation, given the intense media coverage of the situation.
On June 13, opposition figure Ramon “Eki” Cardenas
approached Emboff about the possibility of U.S. asylum for
Ong. Mission informed Cardenas that this was not an
appropriate case for consideration of asylum.

——-
Comment
——-

¶8. (C) President Arroyo has taken some serious hits of late,
which has likely undermined her ability to move forward with
important reforms. Perhaps most notable is the now
diminished likelihood that the Congress might debate and
approve anti-terrorism legislation that would include updated
electronic monitoring provisions. Even additional steps in
her economic reform agenda will be more difficult to push
through a Congress seized with the public relations bonanza
the recent scandals have provided the opposition. For her
part, Arroyo has promised to focus on the big picture,
underlining that her agenda will not be derailed due to all
the heat she is taking. Some have speculated that she may in
response to possible logjams in Congress move to speed up the
convening of a constituent assembly to debate political
reform and constitutional changes. Mission will continue to
urge that Filipinos uphold the rule of law and focus on
constructive approaches, and not become mired in a
self-destructive downward spiral of accusation and
counter-accusation.

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/

MUSSOMELI

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.