Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/07/05MANILA3290.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3290 2005-07-18 07:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003290

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/PMBS, INR/EAP, DS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2015
TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR PREL ASEC RP
SUBJECT: PRO-ARROYO SUPPORTERS HOLD LARGE RALLY

REF: A. OPS CENTER – MANILA 07-16-05 TELECON

¶B. MANILA 3231
¶C. MANILA 3202
¶D. MANILA 3187

Classified By: Political Officer Andrew McClearn for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Media and police estimate that roughly
100,000 people attended a pro-President Arroyo rally on July
16 in Manila. Most rally participants appeared to be
provincial- or local-level government workers and their
families bused to the rally. In other news related to the
ongoing political turbulence, a bill is being prepared in the
House that would create a “truth commission” to look into
allegations of fraud in last year’s elections. In addition,
Arroyo’s Communications Director, Silvestre Afable, has
resigned amid accusations by Malacanang sources that he was
ineffective. Few observers took the large turnout for the
July 16 rally seriously, seeing it as another sign that the
GRP and the opposition are engaged in a tit-for-tat game of
“one-upmanship” as they try to show that they have public
support. End Summary.

——————–
Big Pro-Arroyo Rally
——————–

¶2. (SBU) Media and police estimate that roughly 100,000
people attended a pro-President Arroyo rally on July 16.
According to Pol FSN who observed the rally, most
participants appeared to be provincial- or local-level
government workers and their families bused to the rally, and
there was little sign of genuine emotion. El Shaddai, the
popular charismatic Catholic religious movement, along with
other influential allies of the President, staged the rally
as a means of bolstering Arroyo amid recent scandals and to
counter recent rallies sponsored by the opposition (ref B).
The July 16 event was staged near Embassy Manila in Rizal
Park. Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, a staunch Arroyo supporter,
led the ceremonies, which included a series of tributes to
the local politicians in attendance at the rally and several
prayers. There were also some dancing and singing acts.
Arroyo herself did not attend the gathering which, according
to Atienza, was primarily meant as a show of support for the
rule of law and to show a strong popular rejection of any
extra-constitutional attempts to remove Arroyo from the
presidency.

¶3. (U) In the meantime, protests against the President
continued in the past several days as leftist groups held
small “mosquito” rallies in Manila and elsewhere. A group of
computer programmer hackers called the “e-patriots” claimed
over the weekend that it would step up attacks on
governmental websites as a form of “virtual protest.”
Opposition forces are also gearing up for the next big
anti-Arroyo event which is scheduled to coincide with
Arroyo’s annual State of the Nation address (SONA) on July
¶25.

——————-
A Truth Commission?
——————-

¶4. (C) In other news related to the ongoing political
turbulence, a bill is being prepared in the House that would
create a “truth commission” to look into allegations of fraud
during the May 2004 elections. Pro-Arroyo legislators Rep.
Antonio Cuenco and Rep. Roque Ablan are reportedly set to
file the bill, which would establish a 21-member commission
headed by the current president of the Catholic Bishop’s
Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) (refs B, C). Cuenco
stated: “We believe that the best way to answer the question
on who really won the election is to open and count all the
election returns” and for that work “to be done by the new
and impartial commission.” Malacanang has come out in
general support of the proposal.

¶5. (C) The proposed bill has engendered a mixed reaction
from the opposition. Opposition legal adviser Harriet
Demetriou told poloff on July 13 that Susan Roces, a key
opposition leader, had supported the concept of a truth
commission during recent meetings with Catholic leaders.
However, opposition Senator Alfredo Lim told Acting Pol/C on
July 13 that he favored an impartial investigation into the
election, but was concerned that the “devil will be in the
details” of exactly how such a commission is formed and what
sort of mandate it has. Opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel
opposes the proposal. Pimentel told poloff on July 15 that
the proposal would be used as a “delaying tactic” by
administration supporters trying to stave off impeachment or
the President’s resignation.

——————————-
Communications Chief Steps Down
——————————-
¶6. (C) Arroyo’s Communications Director Silvestre Afable has
resigned from his Cabinet-level position amid accusations by
Malacanang sources that he was ineffective. Afable will
continue his work as Chairman of the GRP’s Peace Negotiating
Panel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Malacanang Political Affairs Secretary Gabriel “Gabby”
Claudio told Acting Pol/C recently that there were many at
Malacanang who had complained about Afable, asserting that
his media strategy to defend Arroyo was ineffective. Waldo
Flores, the Deputy Executive Secretary at Malacanang, told
acting Pol/C on July 15 that he was personally upset that the
President’s “communications strategy was failing her” and
that her poll numbers were down, although he did not mention
Afable per se. Media reports suggested that Afable was
unhappy at his post after repeated clashes with another close
adviser to Arroyo — Overseas Development Assistance Chief
Marita Jimenez — on the implementation of an overall
communications plan.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (C) Few observers took the large turnout for the July 16
rally seriously, seeing it as another sign that the GRP and
the opposition are engaged in a tit-for-tat game of
“one-upmanship” as they try to show that they have public
support. As noted, July 16 rally participants showed little
sign of genuine emotion, which was also the case with
participants in the July 13 rally held by the opposition in
the Makati business district (ref B). Overall, most
observers do not believe that the current political situation
lends itself to the sort of large “people power” displays
that changed politics here in 1986 and 2001. If the
political and economic situation deteriorates down the line,
however, then rallies could become more rambunctious and
threatening to the government.

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/

MUSSOMELI

   

 

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