Oct 192014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/05/09MANILA999.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA999
2009-05-08 08:26
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9416
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHML #0999/01 1280826
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 080826Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4062
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000999

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2019
TAGS: PGOV EAID PINR PREL PHUM KISL RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES HITS HOME RUN WITH FIRST-EVER REGIONAL DISASTER RELIEF EXERCISE

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Philippines hosted the first-ever
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) field exercise May 4-8, a
voluntary disaster relief demonstration, which involved 25 of
26 ARF nations and the European Union. The week-long event
was an unqualified success. The primary goal of the
civilian-led and military-supported exercise was to
demonstrate ARF nation capabilities in response to an
affected nation’s request for assistance following a major
natural disaster. The exercise identified regional
assistance capacity within ASEAN and the ARF and may serve as
a template in the future for multinational relief operations.
The exercise also tested the Philippine-UN disaster
coordination mechanism and featured a roundtable evaluation
of the procedural challenges and outcomes of the exercise.
Senior Philippine officials were effusive in their gratitude
to Ambassador for the significant assistance provided by U.S.
military and civilian personnel in the planning and execution
of the exercise. END SUMMARY.

—————————–
COORDINATED PLANNING PAYS OFF
—————————–

¶2. (C) After more than a year of planning, the Philippines
hosted the first-ever ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) field
exercise, a week-long Voluntary Display of Response for
Disaster Relief held May 4-8. From the outset of planning in
early 2008, the primary goal of this civilian-led and
military-supported exercise, as conceived by U.S. and
Philippine planners, was to demonstrate ARF nation
capabilities in response to an affected nation’s request for
assistance following a major natural disaster, such as a
typhoon or earthquake. Numerous legal and logistical
challenges had to be overcome in the course of moving the
exercise from concept to reality, including determining
protocols for allowing foreign military personnel to
participate in an exercise in the Philippines without a legal
agreement governing their status. U.S. Marine Forces Pacific
(MARFORPAC), Pacific Command (PACOM), State Department and
Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) personnel worked
closely with their Philippine civilian and military
counterparts for more than 15 months to plan and implement a
highly successful event that included 25 of the 26 ARF
nations and the European Union. The Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea was the sole ARF member that did not send
either participants or observers to the exercise.

———————————
STRONG MULTILATERAL PARTICIPATION
———————————

¶3. (SBU) Ambassador attended the opening ceremony in Manila
May 4, which featured Philippine Executive Secretary Eduardo
Ermita as guest of honor. The ceremony centered around a
display of maritime disaster response coordination and
featured combined elements of the Philippine Navy, Coast
Guard, Office of Civil Defense, and Department of Health, as
well as the Japanese Self Defense Forces, who integrated an
advanced rescue seaplane into the operation. The exercise
activities continued throughout the week with four
multinational engineering projects and three medical events
that benefited thousands of Philippine citizens. Philippine
Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo told the Ambassador May 8
that he was delighted with the outcome of the ARF exercise
and the attendance by EAP Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Scot Marciel and Japanese Vice Minister of Defense Nobuo
Kishi, in particular. Romulo commented that it would be
useful to build on the lessons learned this year and hoped
another nation would volunteer to host a follow-on ARF
disaster relief exercise next year (septel).

¶4. (SBU) Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro and
DAS Marciel represented the Philippine and U.S. governments
at projects in the Clark and Olongapo areas during the May 6
VIP day. Secretary Teodoro lauded the spirit of cooperation
and friendship evident among the participants and thanked the
U.S. for its role as a co-sponsor of the event. DAS Marciel
congratulated the Philippines for its leadership in making
the exercise a success, stating the event had exceeded all
expectations.

—————-
TANGIBLE RESULTS
—————-

MANILA 00000999 002 OF 002

¶5. (SBU) The combined efforts of the 13 contributor nations
and the European Union dramatically improved the livelihood
for the residents of the target communities. Participants
completely refurbished two elementary schools, built a
60-meter suspension bridge across a flood-prone waterway for
a hilltop community frequently stranded during heavy rains,
and constructed a deep water well, pump house, and 5,000
gallon water storage facility for a village that previously
lacked potable water. In addition, more than 9,500 patients
received medical and dental treatment, including surgery.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) With the ARF exercise following a week after the
conclusion of the largest U.S.-Philippine bilateral military
exercise of the year, the Philippine government was concerned
the public might misconstrue the ARF disaster relief
demonstration as a military-led endeavor. Prior to, and
throughout the event, the Philippine National Disaster
Coordinating Council, which was the lead civilian agency for
the ARF exercise, emphasized the multilateral nature of the
event and the importance of it as an inaugural example of
visible cooperation among ARF nations. Numerous
representatives from ARF countries commented that the
exercise was much larger in scale than they had anticipated
and that it would be valuable to hold similar exercises in
the future to cement the ties that had been established among
colleagues during planning process and actual exercise
itself. The U.S. and other multinational military planners
played an invaluable role in bringing about the ARF exercise,
but deftly took a backseat to the civilian representatives
and let them manage the public information campaign. The
Philippines took a huge first step toward better regional
integration by hosting the this ARF disaster relief exercise.

KENNEY

   

 

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