Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/03/09MANILA495.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA495
2009-03-06 08:01
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1658
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0495/01 0650801
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 060801Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3425
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000495

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES: ASEAN SUMMIT A QUALIFIED SUCCESS

REF: MANILA 386

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Notwithstanding widely-published reports of
ASEAN members’ disappointment at the absence of major
Northeast Asia powers China, Japan, and South Korea from the
recently-concluded 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand, together
with ASEAN’s reported failure to confront the region’s human
rights problems, the Philippine Department of Foreign
Affairs’ Executive Director for ASEAN Affairs Maria Teresa
Taguiang characterized the Summit as a qualified success in
several areas. She said that the creation of ASEAN’s
first-ever human rights body is moving ahead on schedule, and
the organization’s member states are deepening economic
cooperation in the face of global recession and taking other
steps to ensure greater regional integration. Taguiang
echoed sentiments expressed earlier by Philippine Foreign
Secretary Romulo to the Ambassador, in which he welcomed
possible U.S. accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and
Cooperation. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) In a March 4 conversation with Embassy officials,
Acting ASEAN Affairs Executive Director Maria Teresa Taguiang
of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
downplayed widely-published reports that, in barring two
human rights activists to whom Burma and Cambodia objected,
ASEAN had backed away from dealing with regional human rights
issues. Taguiang outlined that the event from which the
activists had been excluded was merely one of the meetings
with civil-society groups, youth, and business interests held
on the margins of the Summit to highlight its theme of a
“people-centered ASEAN.” She went on to note that a
high-level ASEAN panel had delivered its first draft of terms
of reference for the human rights body that resulted from
ASEAN’s new charter (which entered into force in December).
Taguiang outlined that ASEAN hopes to have a final
terms-of-reference draft for the human rights body ready in
time for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in July,
followed by its formal launch at the 15th ASEAN Summit, to be
held in Vietnam. Taguiang shared the enthusiasm expressed
February 23 by Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo at
possible U.S. accession to ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and
Cooperation (TAC), as alluded to recently by the Secretary
during her visit to Jakarta (reftel).

CONSENSUS WILL CONTINUE TO CHARACTERIZE ASEAN
———————————————

¶3. (C) The Executive Director said that, with regard to
Burma, the nation widely considered ASEAN’s most recalcitrant
member on human rights, there were nonetheless measureable
signs of progress in Burma’s greater engagement with the
outside world. She offered as an example Burma’s willingness
to extend indefinitely the mandate of the tripartite core
group coordinating post-Typhoon-Nargis recovery efforts,
which had been previously scheduled to expire in July.
Taguiang observed that, although the EU and other regional
organizations all offered useful features to emulate, there
was no desire on the part of ASEAN members to model the
organization on the EU, and that consensus-based
decision-making and noninterference in each other’s internal
affairs would continue to be the hallmarks of ASEAN’s
approach. She opined that the military junta ruling Burma
had responded better to engagement than to pressure.

ASEAN OPPOSED TO PROTECTIONISM
——————————

¶4. (C) Turning to the effects of the global economic
downturn, Taguiang underscored closing remarks by Thailand’s
Prime Minister in which he highlighted the region’s economic
resiliency, while conceding that a sense of urgency existed
in the need to restore confidence. She emphasized that ASEAN
remains opposed to protectionism in any form, and committed
to the creation of a region-wide free trade area by 2015. As
examples of the region’s ever-increasing economic
integration, the Executive Director pointed to ASEAN’s new
trade pact with Australia and New Zealand, as well as the
newly-created $120 billion ASEAN equity fund, which member
states will be able to tap into in order to address liquidity
problems brought on by the worldwide economic crisis.

COMMENT
——-

¶5. (C) Philippine national media have highlighted the recent
ASAEAN Summit primarily in rather negative terms:
disillusionment at some members’ stubbornness toward dialogue
on human rights, discouragement at any early prospect for a
return to robust economic growth in Southeast Asia, plus

MANILA 00000495 002 OF 002

disappointment at the absence of Northeast Asia’s economic
powers. The leading daily Philippine Star on February 26 had
reported the Cambodian Prime Minister’s comment that the
Summit was a “waste of time” without China, Japan, and South
Korea in attendance, and even Philippine diplomats publicly
conceded that their interest had “really waned” in the
absence of the three Northeast Asian powers. The Executive
Director’s comments to Embassy officers clearly appear
intended to offset such sentiments, and instead underscore
ASEAN’s slow but steady progess on human rights and resolve
to work together to overcome the debilitating effects of
recent global economic trends.
KENNEY

   

 

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