Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/05/08MANILA1144.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1144
2008-05-13 09:01
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #1144/01 1340901
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130901Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0692
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001144

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/13/2018
TAGS: MARR MASS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT PARDONS MUTINEERS, NEW ARMED FORCES CHIEF SHUNS PARTISAN POLITICS

REF: MANILA 881: COUP PLOTTERS CONVICTION WARNING

AGAINST MILITARY ADVENTURISM

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: During a change of command ceremony for
the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces on May 12, President
Arroyo announced she would pardon nine military officers for
their involvement in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, a
recommendation made by outgoing Armed Forces Chief General
Hermogenes Esperon. The announcement came during the
ascension of General Alexander Yano — most recently
Philippine Army chief and reputed to be insulated from
political scandals — to the Philippine military’s top post.
Media and insiders have speculated that Yano’s tenure will be
a new beginning for the Armed Forces, one that focuses on the
renunciation of “military adventurism” and shields the
military from involvement in partisan politics. Yano, the
first native of Mindanao to serve as Armed Forces Chief, has
fought both communist and Muslim insurgencies during a career
in which he has served throughout the Philippines. In his
speech, Yano emphasized that the military will continue to
pursue vigorously the campaign against terrorism and
insurgency, with a clear commitment to upholding the rule of
law and respect for human rights at all times. He also
voiced support for continued defense reform and providing a
security environment in which economic development can
flourish. END SUMMARY.

——————————————— ———
PRESIDENT PARDONS MUTINEERS, AFP CHIEF PLEDGES LOYALTY
——————————————— ———

¶2. (C) At the change of command ceremony for the Philippine
Chief of the Armed Forces May 12, President Gloria Arroyo
formally announced a pardon for nine soldiers who pleaded
guilty to coup charges and served five years in detention for
their role in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny (reftel). The
pardon was in response to a recommendation made by outgoing
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Hermogenes
Esperon. While media called the pardon “a gift to Esperon
for loyal service,” Esperon believed that reintegrating the
soldiers into the military would send a positive message and
soften the stance of hardliners, weakening support among
junior officers for insurrection. At the ceremony, incoming
Armed Forces Chief Alexander Yano — seen by many insiders as
being free of political baggage, an accusation that stalked
Esperon — pledged his loyalty to the Philippine constitution
and his full support to President Arroyo as
commander-in-chief. In his first public comments as Armed
Forces Chief, Yano said the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) have the moral and legal responsibility to serve as a
“defender of the nation, protector of democracy, and servant
of the people,” but that they would continue “abhorrence and
renunciation of military adventurism of any sort.”

———————————
“YOUR LABOR SHALL NOT BE IN VAIN”
———————————

¶3. (C) As Esperon handed over the reins to Yano, he
reflected on the accomplishments of his 22-month term,
highlighting the successes the AFP has enjoyed against
communist insurgents of the New People’s Army and Muslim
terrorists of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and progress in the peace
process in Mindanao. Esperon thanked the USG for its
assistance in making Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago
“inhospitable to terrorists, whether local or foreign.”
Yano, the first Chief of Staff from restive Mindanao and
often described by military and civilian officials alike as a
“soldier’s soldier,” lauded Esperon’s achievements against
the dual insurgencies, saying “we are daunted by the
challenge of duplicating your feat.” But Yano confidently
promised that the timetable for dismantling the communist
guerrilla fronts by 2010 as mandated by President Arroyo
would be met. Addressing Esperon, he said: “Your labor shall
not be in vain. The enemies of democracy shall be decimated.
As scheduled. As promised.”

———————————-
COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING RULE OF LAW
———————————-

MANILA 00001144 002 OF 002

¶4. (C) Despite strong promises to pursue terrorists “with
even more vigor,” Yano was unambiguous in his commitment to
upholding the rule of law, “even in the face of the fiercest
battles.” Following up such statements with concrete actions
will be key for Yano to establish himself as someone who
promotes respect for human rights at all levels in the Armed
Forces and for him to have success implementing reforms begun
under Esperon to clean up the military’s image as a human
rights violator.

———————————-
SOLIDARITY WITH REFORM INITIATIVES
———————————-

¶5. (C) As a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class
of 1976, Yano enjoys a particularly close relationship with
Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro, an adopted
member of the class and Air Force reserve officer. Yano is
well known to the Ambassador and the Embassy, and the mission
has had an excellent relationship with him throughout his
career — most recently in his position as Commanding General
of the Army, in which he was active in Philippine Defense
Reform. During his address, Yano voiced his gratitude for
Secretary Teodoro’s pursuit of numerous defense reforms and
demonstrated a potential flair for management when he
promised to further the relationship between the Defense
Department and the Armed Forces and strengthen the ties with
the local and national government. “A stronger AFP will
spark more effective interagency partnerships in achieving
genuine peace and development,” Yano said.

————————————–
CLEARING AND PAVING THE ROAD TO GROWTH
————————————–

¶6. (C) Recognizing President Arroyo’s efforts to employ
economic development as a tool against terrorism, Yano said
the military was ready to “help create, enhance, and preserve
the atmosphere and environment needed to make it easier for
the forces of economic development to penetrate the areas in
our country where progress is most needed.” Yano cited the
ability of the AFP to clear the road to economic growth of
the “obstacles of terrorism and insurgency.” At the same
time, Yano said the AFP would continue its development role
by bringing engineering and humanitarian assistance to
regions where other government agencies were not yet able to
operate.

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶7. (C) President Arroyo’s appointment of General Yano as
armed forces chief signals a willingness to eschew political
connections and elevate a soldier widely viewed as a complete
professional to the Philippine military’s highest office.
Citing “meritocracy,” broad support among the military and
government, and Yano’s “glittering career,” as the key
reasons for his appointment, Arroyo also played a political
card, remarking on Yano’s status as the first Army Chief and
AFP Chief from Mindanao. With a large crowd of heavyweights
from Mindanao in the audience, including the Speaker of the
House, congressmen, governors, mayors, and the politicians
from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Arroyo charged
Yano with bringing peace to his native Mindanao and promised
to support him with the resources and political will to
achieve that goal. Whether Yano achieves these lofty tasks
will depend, in part, on his ability to navigate the
political landscape in Manila and lead the Philippine
military along a path of democracy.

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

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

   

 

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