Oct 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MANILA2089.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2089
2009-10-01 07:48
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #2089/01 2740748
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O 010748Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5335
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002089

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/01/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PINS EAID ELAB MOPS RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL AIDE DISCUSSES FLOOD RESPONSE, JOLO ATTACK, AND MIL-MIL TIES WITH THE AMBASSADOR

REF: MANILA 2055 (JOLO ATTACK)

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

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (C) Presidential Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita
described to the Ambassador the dedication of President
Arroyo and Defense Secretary Teodoro to flood relief efforts.
Over a one-on-one breakfast on October 1, Ermita said the
GRP was investigating the explosion responsible for two
American servicemen’s deaths on the southern island of Jolo;
the Ambassador assured Ermita that U.S. forces were taking
extra security precautions. Ermita expressed appreciation
for the Ambassador’s moderately-toned public response to
critics of the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement
(VFA). The Ambassador cited joint humanitarian efforts as
proof of the VFA’s value. The Ambassador also thanked Ermita
for helping ensure that the GRP engaged productively with a
visiting International Labour Organization (ILO) delegation.
End Summary.

GRP’S FLOOD RESPONSE
——————–

¶2. (C) In an October 1 breakfast meeting with Office of the
President Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, the Ambassador
expressed condolences for the Filipino victims of tropical
storm Ketsana. Ermita said top GRP officials were taking
their relief efforts extremely seriously. He described
President Arroyo’s travels on September 30 to the provinces
of Albay, Pampanga, and North Cotabato to deliver relief
supplies and check on the welfare of communities. She had
begun her day at 6:00 a.m. and, without breaking for sleep,
had been reviewing papers at 2:00 a.m. the morning of October
1, when Ermita last saw her.

¶3. (C) Ermita also praised Secretary of National Defense
Gilbert Teodoro’s work as chairman of the National Disaster
Coordinating Council (NDCC). Although some officials from
the ruling coalition wanted Teodoro — the coalition’s 2010
presidential candidate — to seize more photo opportunities,
the Secretary instead insisted on focusing on serious
elements of his job. Ermita believed Teodoro sincerely
sought not to wring political gains from his work on behalf
of storm victims. (Septel will report more of the
Ambassador’s discussion with Ermita on relief efforts.)

JOLO CASUALTIES
—————

¶4. (C) Ermita expressed condolences for the two American
soldiers killed in Jolo on September 29 (reftel). He said he
had dispatched a team of investigators to Jolo. He expressed
concern that the U.S. might engage in unilateral American
military action to retaliate for the explosion that killed
the two Americans and one Filipino. The Ambassador said that
U.S. forces had heightened their security posture and that
they remained focused on their mission of assisting the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The Ambassador reminded
Ermita that U.S. forces were in the Philippines to assist and
advise the Philippine armed forces in their counter-terrorism
fight. Our continued focus would be exactly that.

VFA

¶5. (C) Noting that the humanitarian efforts of U.S. soldiers
had not silenced Philippine Senators critical of the
U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Ermita said
he believed such criticism did not reflect broad public
sentiment. Rather, a few politicians were seeking media
attention. He said the Ambassador had wisely avoided head-on
confrontation with the VFA’s detractors; a more
confrontational approach would simply have heightened the
issue’s profile, to our mutual detriment.

¶6. (C) The Ambassador noted that the U.S. mission
supplemented its public emphasis on the benefits of our
mil-mil partnership with frequent private conversations with
key GRP interlocutors as well as with critics in the Senate.
The Ambassador highlighted that our joint training and
exercises had proven critical in enabling U.S. Marine medical
units to engage immediately and productively with their
Philippine counterparts in efforts to provide humanitarian

MANILA 00002089 002 OF 002

relief.

ILO VISIT
———

¶7. (C) The Ambassador thanked Ermita for his personal
engagement with a visiting International Labour Organization
delegation, and for his efforts to ensure others in the GRP
also engaged the ILO productively. (Note: In a September 27
meeting, ILO delegation members told Poloffs they had
received “total cooperation” from the highest levels of the
GRP; they believed they would soon be able to begin technical
assistance programs in the Philippines, and, although they
remained concerned about abuses of labor rights, they would
likely be able to produce a positive report on their visit.
End Note.)

¶8. (C) Ermita said the GRP was still learning how to deal
productively with such international organizations, slowly
overcoming reluctance and suspicion. In his own meeting with
the delegation, he had found the ILO officials to be
thoughtful and focused on helping the GRP to cope with its
problems.

COMMENT
——-

¶9. (C) We have extensively engaged the public to explain the
parameters of our military activities in the Philippines. It
is curious, therefore, that Ermita worried about a unilateral
U.S. response to the Jolo attack. Some NGOs also have
expressed concern that we might take it upon ourselves to
lash out against the perpetrators. While this worry reveals
a misconception about the role of our forces here, it also
illustrates the seriousness with which Filipinos view the
attack on U.S. troops in Jolo.
KENNEY

   

 

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