Sep 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1074.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1074 2006-03-08 08:56 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXYZ0017
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHML #1074/01 0670856
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080856Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9810
UNCLAS MANILA 001074

SIPDIS

AIDAC

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USAID FOR ANN/ANE; AA/DCHA; DA/ANE;
INFO ANE/EAA/PHIL DESK;
ANE/SPOTS FOR RICKI GOLD
USAID/DCHA/DG FOR JOSH KAUFMAN AND BARBARA SMITH
STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, DRL/CRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PHUM PGOV PREL RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR WELCOMES USG SUPPORT FOR PHILIPPINE ELECTORAL REFORM

REF: A. 05 MANILA 5914
¶B. 05 MANILA 4810

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED NOT FOR INTERNET PROTECT
ACCORDINGLY.
——-
Summary
——-

¶1. (SBU) On February 27, 2006, representatives of USAID
and the International Foundation for Election Systems
(IFES), a USAID/Philippines grantee, met with former
Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr.
to discuss opportunities to collaborate on electoral
reforms. President Arroyo appointed Davide as her Senior
or
Advisor on Electoral Reforms on January 24, charging him
with drafting an electoral reform roadmap for the May 2007
legislative elections and beyond. During the February 27
meeting, the USAID Mission Director told the former Chief
Justice that the USG is particularly encouraged by Davide’s
appointment and expressed the USG’s desire to support much-
needed electoral reforms in the Philippines. Davide
welcomed USG and IFES support. (End Summary.)

——————————————— —
Davide Offers Preview of Electoral Reform Agenda
——————————————— —

¶2. (U) On January 24, 2006, President Arroyo appointed
Hilario Davide Jr. as her Senior Advisor on Electoral
Reforms. Davide had retired a month earlier from the
position of Chief Justice of the Philippines Supreme Court
after an impressive seven-year tenure presiding over a far-
reaching program to reform the Philippine judiciary. Davide
also has extensive elections experience, having served as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from 1988
to 1989. As the new Senior Advisor on Electoral Reforms,
Davide agreed to conduct a thorough study of the electoral
system, recommend reforms for the 2007 legislative
elections and beyond, and preside over the nominations
process to fill three vacant positions as commissioners at
COMELEC. President Arroyo charged him with completing these
tasks in 60 days, and Davide is expected to present his
findings and recommendations to the President by mid-March
¶2006.

¶3. (SBU) Recognizing the opportunity presented by Davide’s
appointment to support electoral reforms in the
Philippines, CDA Paul Jones offered USG assistance in a
January 31, 2006 letter, particularly through the
USAID/Philippines’ ongoing project with IFES, a two-year,
$1 million grant to support reforms in election management
and administration. The CDA also sent Davide a copy of the
USAID-funded comprehensive assessment of the 2004 elections
conducted by a team of elections experts from IFES, the
National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International
Republican Institute (IRI). USAID subsequently met on
February 27 with the former Chief Justice and IFES to
discuss opportunities to collaborate on electoral reform.

¶4. (SBU) Former Chief Justice Davide welcomed the
opportunity to work with USAID and IFES on electoral
reform. He thanked the USG for CDA Paul Jones’ offer of
support and for the USAID-funded elections assessment,
remarking that the assessment contains very useful
recommendations, which he has already drawn on in making
interim recommendations to President Arroyo. Davide told
USAID and IFES that on February 10 he submitted an interim
report to Arroyo with short-term recommendations for
essential reforms to be in place for the 2007 legislative
elections. These include automating the vote in selected
areas of the country such as Metro Manila, the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and Region Seven (Cebu,
Bohol, and Negros Oriental); revising the election
modernization law to allow for greater flexibility in
implementation; President Arroyo certifying pending
election legislation as particularly urgent; simplifying
the ballot; and increasing emphasis on voter education to
improve civic responsiveness and explain changes in the
election’s conduct. Davide confirmed that he is also
working to select nominees to fill three vacant
commissionerships at COMELEC; he said that he already has
drawn up a list of people he intends to recommend,

including several highly qualified women. Davide told
USAID and IFES that he welcomed civil society input to
improve the transparency and quality of the selection
process.

¶5. (SBU) The former Chief Justice also told USAID and IFES
that he recently briefed senior administration officials on
these and other interim recommendations and expressed his
satisfaction that he had received a positive response.
Davide added that he plans to continue his job as Senior
Advisor on Electoral Reforms to oversee implementation
after submitting his final report and recommendations in
mid-March 2006.

——————————————— —–
USG Assistance Complements Electoral Reform Agenda
——————————————— —–

¶6. (SBU) USAID and IFES briefed former Chief Justice
Davide on USG’s support for electoral reform in the
Philippines, and all present identified possible areas for
collaboration. Building on the assessment of the 2004
national elections and support for voter education and
domestic election monitoring in the August 2005 ARMM
regional elections, USAID issued a two-year, $1 million
grant to IFES in September 2005 to continue support for
Philippine electoral reform. At the February 27 meeting,
IFES outlined IFES’s engagement with COMELEC, which
includes support for series of recently completed strategic
planning and capacity building workshops at COMELEC to
chart a course forward for administering the 2007
legislative elections and making longer-term reforms.
IFES, USAID, and Davide agreed that there appeared to be
fertile ground for collaboration as Davide makes his own
recommendations for reforms at COMELEC to the President,
and as IFES assists COMELEC with implementation of the
reforms agreed to in COMELEC’s strategic planning exercise.

¶7. (SBU) Those present also agreed that plans for election
automation also offered an opportunity for collaboration,
and Davide noted IFES’ particular expertise in assessing
the options for voting machines and related IT systems. In
May 2005, IFES conducted an assessment of COMELEC’s IT
systems and plans for automation. IFES plans to sponsor a
vendor fair for elections equipment if the government moves
forward with Davide’s recommendation for automating the
2007 legislative elections on a pilot basis.

¶8. (SBU) Finally, USAID and IFES described to Davide their
engagement with civil society, both at the national level
and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Davide welcomed USAID’s and IFES’ plan to support the
Transparency and Accountability Network, a local
nongovernmental organization (NGO), to conduct a
“Commissioners Watch” to improve transparency and quality
of the vetting process for the selection of the three new
COMELEC commissioners. Davide also noted his interest in
USAID’s and IFES’ work with civil society in the ARMM,
which facilitated the creation of the first ever consortium
of Muslim NGOs, the “Citizens Coalition for ARMM Elections
(CCAE),” to conduct voter education and monitor the ARMM
regional elections in August 2005. USAID and IFES will
continue to help build the capacity of CCAE in recognition
of the nationwide impact of alleged electoral fraud in the
ARMM during the 2004 elections and in past electoral
exercises. Here too, the former Chief Justice saw
possibilities for collaboration and voiced his support for
USAID’s and IFES’ work to improve voter education and
election monitoring. USAID, IFES, and Davide agreed to meet
again after the former Chief Justice presents his report
and recommendations to President Arroyo to flesh out
modalities for collaboration.

——-
Comment
——-

¶9. (SBU) Former Chief Justice Davide’s appointment as
Senior Advisor on Electoral Reforms represents a much-
needed boost to a stalled electoral reform agenda. Known
for his moral leadership and strong record as a reformer
during his tenure as Chief Justice, Davide brings with him
tremendous stature and respect to his new job. He will
need these qualities in abundance to successfully break

through the current deadlock on electoral reformdeadlock
caused by weak leadership and allegations of high-level
corruption at COMELEC and a lack of political will among
many incumbent politicians to commit seriously to electoral
reforms. Of late, however, a growing number of politicians
and media commentators have highlighted the need for
electoral reforms, many citing credible allegations of
fraud in the 2004 elections as evidence of a broken
electoral system. Calls for electoral reform have gathered
an added sense of urgency in recent weeks as more realize
that time is already running short to prepare for
legislative elections scheduled for May 2007. Many also
acknowledge that any move to a parliamentary system of
government, a stated priority of President Arroyo and many
in Congress, will, in the end, depend on the ability of the
government to hold credible elections.

¶10. (SBU) While the impediments to electoral reform remain
significant, former Chief Justice Davide’s engagement
represents the best chance for progress in recent memory.
His efforts are therefore particularly deserving of USG
support. We will continue to engage with Davide to take
advantage to opportunities to move the electoral reform
agenda forward. (End Comment.)
JONES

   

 

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