Oct 192014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09MANILA1350.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1350
2009-06-26 06:24
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9549
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1350 1770624
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 260624Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4490
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 001350

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/24/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL IR RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES REACTS TO IRANIAN ELECTION VIOLENCE

REF: MANILA 1262

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Allegations of electoral fraud and violent
supression of public protest in Iran have sparked widespread
condemnation among Philippine government officials, media,
and the general public. Beyond concern for the fate of
pro-democracy activists as well as approximately 8,000
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and permanent residents who
live and work in Iran, the violent events over a perceived
fraudulent election resonate with Filipinos’ concerns about
the possible outcome of planned May 2010 national elections.
In Senate hearings and in the Ambassador’s private discourse
with election officials, the business sector, and others,
there exists a sense that any serious irregularities in the
Philippine elections next May could pose a setback for the
nation’s continued consolidation of democratic institutions.
National media have devoted significant coverage to Iranian
elections and subsequent civil unrest; some editorialists
have cited parallels with Philippine history. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) During a Senate hearing about the planned automation
of Philippine elections, Philippine Senator Richard Gordon
warned that equipment problems could have dire consequences,
opening opportunities for fraud and even the outright failure
of the elections. In a clear reference to violent civil
disturbances now unfolding in Iran, Gordon reflected that “We
don’t want to be another Iran.” In a June 24 conversation
with the Ambassador, a Philippine Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) member echoed Gordon’s concerns. The Ambassador
encountered similar sentiments at a recent meeting of the
Anvil Business Club at which she delivered keynote remarks.
In a June 25 conversation with emboff, COMELEC Commissioner
Rene Sarmiento opined that the protests in Iran were “food
for thought” for the Philippines. Sarmiento said that the
Philippines should be “careful” in the execution of
forthcoming 2010 elections because “anything can happen” when
election results are not trusted. The episode in Tehran, he
noted, could hold lessons for the Philippines.

¶3. (C) The Iranian elections and subsequent violence have
elicted substantial attention in Philippine media, in large
part because controversy over Philippine national elections
slated for May 2010 already colors virtually all political
discourse in Manila. The House of Representatives recently
passed a resolution calling for a constituent assembly to
amend the Constitution prior to 2010 elections (reftel); many
political observers fear that the House’s actions represent a
move by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to
remain in power past the end of her present term —
notwithstanding her repeated assurances that elections will
take place as scheduled, and that she will step down. The
Philipine media also follow Middle East developments due to
the large number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who live
and work there; Iran is home to some 8,000 Filipino OFWs and
permanent residents.

¶4. (C) Writing in the leading-daily Philipine Daily
Inquirer, columnist Rina Jimenez-David decried Filipinos’
apparent “protest fatigue” that resulted in only a modest
turnout at a June 10 rally convened to highlight public
indignation with the Arroyo administration and proposed
constitutional reform. Jimenez-David drew parallels between
reported irregularities in Iranian elections and scandals
surrounding the 2004 Philippine presidential election, which
some feel tainted the legitimacy of Arroyo’s victory.
Leading editorials June 24 and June 25 in both the Philippine
Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star, respectively, featured
scathing criticism of the Iranian government’s violent
crackdown on opposition activists, and likwise alluded to
Philippine history, with the Inquirer observing that “there
is something all too familar about the situation in Iran.”
KENNEY

   

 

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