Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/05/08MANILA1201.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1201
2008-05-20 10:27
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8526
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1201 1411027
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201027Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0745
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 MANILA 001201

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RP BM
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES: CAUTIOUS REACTION TO BURMESE OPENING

REF: A. MANILA 1178
¶B. MANILA 1164
¶C. MANILA 1125 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: DCM Paul W. Jones, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: News that the Burmese junta may offer
limited concessions to the entry of international assistance
are being received with caution by the Philippine government,
media, and civil society. Department of Foreign Affairs
officials held out hopes that the junta’s May 19 agreement to
allow ASEAN to coordinate international relief efforts would
allow desperately needed aid to reach storm victims soon.
Before the ASEAN meeting, we pressed senior Philippine
officials to push Burma to accept relief workers and aid.
National media continue to excoriate the ruling junta for its
seeming indifference to human suffering, and editorials
underscore that ASEAN’s credibility and reputation are on the
line as belated disaster-relief efforts move ahead in days to
come. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) Pending detailed results of the May 19 ASEAN foreign
ministers meeting in Singapore where Burma agreed that ASEAN
would coordinate provision of international aid, it is still
unclear whether the Philippine government’s disaster-relief
medical team will be granted visas and allowed to begin work
in Burma. Principal Assistant Princess Tayo of the DFA’s
Asia and Pacific Affairs Office (ASPAC) explained May 15
that, notwithstanding the administration’s close and
continued communication with the Burmese Embassy in Manila
and the Philippine Embassy in Rangoon, the DFA had not been
able to get an answer from the Burmese. Tayo expressed her
hope that the Singapore meeting might open new avenues of
cooperation.

¶3. (C) In advance of the ASEAN ministerial in Singapore, we
pressed senior Philippine officials on the need for ASEAN to
push the Burmese regime to allow international relief workers
and aid into Burma immediately, and not merely call for more
assistance or a pledging conference. Noting President Gloria
Arroyo’s leading role in urging democratic change in Burma,
we said that the ASEAN ministerial would be another key
moment for the Philippines to take a leadership role on this
issue. Philippine officials stressed that the Philippine
government was deeply concerned about the situation in Burma,
and very disappointed that it had been unable to send its
team of medical experts there (the team was instead re-routed
to assist earthquake victims in China).

¶4. (C) Director Raymond Balatbat at DFA’s Office of ASEAN
Affairs told us before the ASEAN meeting that the Philippines
is very concerned with facilitating the entry of aid workers
into Burma, but that the Burmese government had offered
little cooperation. Balatbat said that the ASEAN ministerial
meeting in Singapore presented an opportunity for the
Philippines to help orchestrate a joint ASEAN strategy in
which the organization could act as a “conduit or link”
between the Burmese government and outside aid. He added
that the international community “should also take advantage
of the next phase,” which he predicted would be
rehabilitation and reconstruction, to offer constructive
engagement and win the trust of the regime.

¶5. (SBU) Philippine national media continued to lambaste the
Burmese regime for allowing human suffering to continue on
such a monumental scale while stonewalling life-saving aid
with red tape. As publicized death tolls exceeded 133,000, a
May 19 editorial cartoon in the leading-daily Philippine Star
showed a grinning military junta member sitting on typhoon
victims, while ASEAN struggled haplessly to assist. The
accompanying editorial, “ASEAN’s Embarrassment,” blamed ASEAN
for its passivity and naivete in believing that years of
“constructive engagement” would bring about democratization.
Editorials in the influential Business World observed that
the people of Burma were now reaping the bitter harvest of
their totalitarian government’s isolationism.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.