Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/03/09MANILA630.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA630
2009-03-20 09:34
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Manila

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RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN IMMEDIATE 0123
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000630

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2019
TAGS: MARR MCAP PREL PTER RP MASS
SUBJECT: RED CROSS HEAD VOICES CONCERN OVER HOSTAGES

REF: A. MANILA 572-MILITARY OPERATION AGAINST HOSTAGE
TAKERS
¶B. MANILA 247-KIDNAPPED RED CROSS WORKERS BEGIN
FOURTH WEEK WITH TERRORISTS

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador met March 20 with
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Head of
Delegation Jean-Daniel Tauxe to discuss the tense situation
surrounding the three ICRC hostages kidnapped January 15 by
the Abu Sayyaf Group on Jolo island (ref B). Tauxe assured
the Ambassador that he knew that recent military actions by
the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the suspected
hostage takers on Jolo had not been at the suggestion of U.S.
personnel, as Philippine media had reported. The Ambassador
emphasized to Tauxe that U.S. military on Jolo were operating
strictly in a logistical and intelligence support role, and
were not advocating any course of action that might endanger
the ICRC hostages. The Ambassador also underscored the USG’s
strong interest in seeing the hostage situation resolved
peacefully and that U.S. assets were available to immediately
transport the hostages out of the area if they were released.
End Summary.

“DISASTROUS WEEK”
—————–

¶2. C) Tauxe confided to the Ambassador that it had been a
“disastrous week” for his office. He had been very concerned
for the hostages’ safety after an encounter between Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and elements of the Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG) on March 16 (ref A). Combined Philippine
forces fought with followers of Albader Parad, the ASG leader
suspected of masterminding the ICRC kidnappings. Parad was
wounded in the skirmish, and numerous casualties were
reported among the AFP and ASG. Nevertheless, Parad and his
core group evaded capture and managed to escape with the
hostages. In response to concerns that the hostage takers
might react to tight military cordons with violence against
the three ICRC hostages, the AFP has pulled back their
forces, but not disengaged completely. In reviewing the
military’s actions, the Ambassador and Tauxe discussed how
the complicated social fabric of Jolo works to the advantage
of the ASG. Enmeshed in the Jolo populace through familial
ties, business connections, and political alliances, the ASG
has relationships throughout society that hinder the
military’s ability to apprehend members of the organization.

FRAGMENTED GOVERNMENT EFFORT
—————————-

¶3. (C) The Philippine government repeatedly has stressed its
firm commitment to ensuring the safety of the ICRC hostages,
but their plight is exacerbated by lack of a cohesive
approach among various official interlocutors in the
negotiation effort. On Jolo island, Governor Sakur Tan —
who does not control military forces — and Major General
Juancho Sabban, the Philippine task force commander, both
have inserted themselves in the negotiations. At the
national level, Senator Richard Gordon and Secretary of the
Interior Ronaldo Puno — both adept politicians and potential
presidential candidates for 2010 — have been involved
separately in the negotiations. However, Puno has used his
access to the President to influence the Administration’s
position on the negotiations to this point. Puno also has
enlisted Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari,
a skilled but inconsistent political figure, as a middleman
on Jolo island. The mixed messages coming from the various
government actors have not facilitated a single set of
conditions being presented by Parad for release of the ICRC
hostages.

URGING NO RANSOM
—————-

¶4. (C) Tauxe reiterated the ICRC’s “no ransom” policy on
kidnappings, but lamented that the Philippine government’s
uncoordinated efforts in the negotiations had confused the

MANILA 00000630 002 OF 002

hostage takers to the point that no specific demands had been
made, and the situation was only getting more dangerous. The
Ambassador noted that the scenario was compounded by the
reality that in previous incidents, ransom money has been
paid to the ASG by private parties. These payments have
reinforced the impression among Filipinos — whether accurate
or not — that some countries, including the Italians, accede
to ransom demands. The Ambassador said that in her meeting
with Secretary Puno earlier in the day, she had emphasized to
Puno the necessity to secure the safe release of the ICRC
hostages without paying any ransom.

¶5. (C) Commenting on Tauxe’s complaint that there were too
many players involved in the negotiations, the Ambassador
told Tauxe that in her conversations with Secretary Puno, she
had suggested that the government’s fragmented approach to
the kidnapping was not leading to resolution and that
designating a single point of contact for negotiations and a
single commander of involved forces would be a better option.
The Ambassador had emphasized to Puno that the confusion
worked in favor of the kidnappers. Tauxe said he agreed and
thanked the Ambassador for her efforts and the offers of
medical and transport assistance should be the hostages be
released.

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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