Oct 192014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/01/07MANILA214.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA214 2007-01-18 09:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO1166
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0214/01 0180933
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180933Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4784
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000214

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, PM, AND EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO AND J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP (TOOLAN/BAILEY)
JOINT STAFF/J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/CLEMMONS)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2017
TAGS: PREL PTER MARR MASS MOPS MCAP RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ARROYO PRAISES U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM ASSISTANCE

REF: A. MANILA 196
¶B. MANILA 179

Classified By: (U) Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. President Arroyo effusively thanked
Ambassador Kenney for U.S. help during the recent Armed
Forces of the Philippines operation to eliminate the Abu
Sayyaf Group leader Abu Sulaiman. She called ongoing
counterterrorism cooperation on Jolo a “triumph” in the war
on terror. She has set clear objectives for the armed
forces: destroy the Abu Sayyaf Group; defeat the Communist
New People’s Army; and, contain secessionist movements. She
expressed optimism that the Senate will pass long anticipated
anti-terrorism legislation. President Arroyo’s focus on the
New People’s Army, which she has labeled a “strategic
threat,” makes almost inevitable further Philippine requests
for assistance against the NPA. (Septel will cover
Philippine Defense Reform discussions.) END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a January 18
meeting with Ambassador Kenney, visiting U.S. members of the
Philippine Defense Reform Executive Steering Committee, and
her senior defense staff expressed effusive thanks for U.S.
help in the operation to eliminate Jainal Antel Sali AKA Abu
Solaiman, the operations chief of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ref
a). Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General
Esperon commented that “there is nothing like intelligence
driven operations” and praised U.S. assistance in the meeting
and later to the media. He said the morale of Philippine
troops was at an all time high, and that they were foregoing
leave in order to be part of the final fight eliminate the
Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah leadership. President
Arroyo noted that Abu Solaiman, who had planned the February
2004 Superferry 14 bombing and the February 2005 “Valentine’s
Day” attacks, had been the “brains” behind Abu Sayyaf
operations. “He was the intellectual of the group and really
the head,” she said, predicting that his death would
demoralize the terrorist organization.

JOLO: A TRIUMPH IN THE WAR ON TERROR
————————————

¶3. (C) President Arroyo called U.S.-Philippine
counterterrorism cooperation a symbol of the two countries’
partnership. Reflecting on her recent visit to Jolo, she
observed that the United States was “loved and appreciated”
there. “It’s a model American triumph in the war on
terrorism,” she commented. Ambassador Kenney observed that
the progress on Jolo was an important step forward,
confirming that the United States wanted to be a strong
partner and to help make the Philippines a safer and more
peaceful place.

CLEAR OBJECTIVES FOR 2007
————————-

¶4. (C) President Arroyo expressed hope that 2007 would be
the year that “everything would come together.” She voiced
satisfaction at the signing of an Association of Southeast
Nations counterterrorism convention at the just concluded
ASEAN Summit (ref b), and said she was pushing Senate
President Villar to approve pending anti-terrorism
legislation. (The House has already passed similar
legislation.) The President stated that her focus was not
just the Abu Sayyaf Group, but also the Communist New
People’s Army, which she labeled just as much a terrorist
threat, noting that “they have been our strategic enemy for
the last 30 years.” Ambassador Kenney noted that the
ongoing, U.S.-supported Philippine Defense Reform program
would help the Philippine military deal with an array of
modern threats, including internal security operations.

¶5. (C) President Arroyo explained that she had assumed the
defense portfolio after the November 2006 resignation of
then-Defense Secretary Cruz in order to “jump start”
equipment procurement and to “clarify” the Armed Forces of
the Philippines’ missions. She described her three-fold
focus:

— destroying the Abu Sayyaf Group;
— bringing about the strategic defeat of the New People’s

MANILA 00000214 002 OF 002

Army; and,
— containing secessionist movements.

On the last point, President Arroyo noted that the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front had apparently accepted the
Philippine government’s offer of self-determination and that
the two sides were moving forward toward a peace agreement.

A HAND OF STEEL
—————

¶6. (U) In a subsequent statement to the press, President
Arroyo called Abu Solaiman’s death a “strategic victory” and
“proof” of the U.S.-Philippine partnership in the war against
terror. Pointing to the ASEAN counterterrorism convention,
she added that the Philippines was ready to work with its
Southeast Asian partners as well as the United States to stop
terrorism. While vowing to be the “hand of steel against
evil,” President Arroyo emphasized her resolve to build a
durable peace through economic development and dialogue.

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) President Arroyo, who personally met Gracia Burnham
and other survivors of the Dos Palmas kidnapping,
understandably took great satisfaction in the elimination of
Abu Solaiman, and appeared firm in her resolve to eliminate
the remaining Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah leadership on
the island of Jolo. She was just as clear in her
determination to dismantle the New People’s Army, and we
should expect that the Philippine government will inevitably
turn to us for further assistance in going after this other
group that the U.S. has already designated a Foreign
Terrorist Organization.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm
KENNEY

   

 

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