Oct 282014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-11-28 11:38
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 MANILA 005510




E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2015


Classified By: (U) Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S/NF) Summary. Comprehensive counterterrorism efforts
— ranging from the military to humanitarian to public
diplomacy — top the broad U.S. agenda in the Philippines’
still struggling democracy. In Manila, you will meet
President Arroyo, former President Ramos, Executive Secretary
Ermita, National Security Advisor Gonzales, National
Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director Garcia, and
a range of senior military and law enforcement officials.
You should use your meetings to thank President Arroyo for
her support against terrorism, to express support for
democratic institutions, warning against emergency measures,
and encourage progress in peace talks with the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF). The government needs to improve
dramatically interagency cooperation, joint military
coordination, and institutional reform of the police,
military, and judiciary to win against the terrorists. In
the nearer term, it needs an anti-terrorism law, which is
currently deadlocked in Congress. RMAS’ robust assistance
has helped lead to major counterterrorism successes. Your
public remarks should underscore our increasingly successful
partnership with the GRP on counterterrorism, our hopes for
further peace and development in Muslim Mindanao in
particular, and our support for democratic processes and rule
of law. President Arroyo continues to seek U.S. approval in
her fight for political survival. Focusing on our support
for real substantive cooperation will ease her nerves,
without identifying us too closely with a still-troubled
Administration. End Summary.


¶2. (C) The list of problems faced by Philippines has changed
little since your time here as Ambassador: corruption,
ineffective governance, endemic and widespread poverty, weak
democratic institutions and political parties, and challenges
to law and order from ineffective military and police
capabilities in the face of numerous insurgencies and
terrorist movements. At the top of our agenda, as reflected
in our Mission Performance Plan, are our counterterrorism
efforts. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
terrorists continue to elude government forces in Mindanao
and the Sulu Archipelago, while the Communist Party of the
Philippines/New Peoples’ Army (CPP/NPA) maintains a
country-wide presence bent on destabilization. The Rajah
Solaiman Movement (RSM) — despite the recent arrest of its
leader, Ahmad Santos — represents a growing worry because of
its ties to foreign financing and the ability of its members
— Christian converts to Islam — to “blend in.” The
Philippines has a recent history of terrorist attacks on its
own territory. The February 28, 2004, bombing of Superferry
14, which killed over one hundred Filipinos, was the second
worst terrorist attack in Asia after the October 2002 Bali
bombings, while the February 14, 2005, “Valentine’s Day”
bombs in Manila and Mindanao devastated crowds of shoppers
and commuters.

¶3. (S/NF) Amid these challenges, President Arroyo continues
to fend off Opposition attempts to force her to step down
following allegations that she engaged in cheating to win the
2004 presidential election and that her immediate family
benefited from illegal gambling revenues. Arroyo continues
to look for positive, public signs of support from the United
States. Pictures of Arroyo with President Bush at the APEC
Summit were prominently displayed on the front pages of local
newspapers, and she will want to use your visit to bolster
the perception that the U.S. and the Philippines remain close
partners, and that she personally has close ties to senior
USG officials.

¶4. (S/NF) The government’s political woes have not yet had a
significant impact on the AFP and the PNP, our two principal
counterterrorism partners, but could over time. National
Security Advisor Gonzales told the Charge November 21 he has
recommended that the President impose emergency rule to
counter the CPP/NPA threat (reftel). Recent RMAS reporting
indicates Arroyo may be weighing whether to enact emergency
rule — a move we believe she had backed away from in
mid-October. Resorting to emergency rule, a declaration of
martial law, or a coup attempt would likely divide the
military and the police, inflame the Opposition, and further
diminish the attractiveness of the Philippines as an
investment destination.


¶5. (SBU) Our counterterrorism engagement in the Philippines
ranges from humanitarian relief and
development to the military and public diplomacy. USAID’s
Livelihood Enhancement and Peace (LEAP) program
has reintegrated over 28,000 former Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) combatants into productive
society as successful farmers, and stands poised — should
the GRP sign a peace agreement with the MILF, as both sides
increasingly appear to expect in the next few months — to
provide similar assistance to the MILF. USAID’s broad
spectrum of development programs (in infrastructure,
education, governance, health, economic growth, environment,
and energy) in conflict-affected areas of Mindanao have made
a positive impact in communities vulnerable to exploitation
by terrorists, as well as contributed to greater judicial
efficiency, electoral reform, and promotion of rule of law


¶6. (C) The Joint US Military Assistance Group-Philippines
(JUSMAG-P) plays an increasingly vital role in our efforts
to improve Philippine capabilities. The US-trained and
equipped Light Reaction Companies (LRCs) and Light Infantry
Battalions (LIBs) are the tip of the spear in the
counterterrorism fight. Although the AFP failed to
capture ASG leader Khaddafy Janjalani during Operation Layas
Pagad this summer, it did, as a direct result of US support
and training, conduct unusually sustained combat operations
in the field for over 60 days. Over the longer term, JUSMAG-P
support for the Philippine Defense Reform (PDR) program will
prove key to the GRP’s ability to stand alone without US
assistance and transform the AFP into a more modern,
effective, and transparent institution, capable of meeting
the needs of the Philippine people and serving as a more
reliable coalition partner.

——————————————— ————

¶7. (C) Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines
(JSOTF-P) provides advice, assistance, and intelligence
fusion to the AFP in the hunt for wanted terrorists.
Additionally, JSOTF-P has broadened its scope to include
civil-military operations in Mindanao. This approach,
coupled with USAID’s longer-term programs, attacks the
environment in which the terrorists thrive. JSOTF-P’s
efforts in support of the AFP civil-military operations will
initially focus on the island of Jolo in the Sulu
Archipelago, an established ASG stronghold, with the goal of
changing perceptions of the AFP and Philippine government
among the citizens of Mindanao.

¶8. (S/NF) There are indications that ASG leaders Janjalani
and Abu Solaiman as well as JI operative Umar Patek have
moved from central Maguindanao to Jolo. JSOTF-P Liaison
Coordination Elements (LCEs) now on the island can help
improve AFP efforts to target the terrorists through
intelligence fusion and training assistance.


¶9. (SBU) The Philippines remains an exuberant media
environment, with much effort devoted to ensuring that
journalists get their facts straight, while we also take
every opportunity to get our side of the story out.
Initiatives, such as our recently published “Muslim Life in
the Philippines,” have found a ready audience, and we have in
the works a film chronicling the successful joint US-AFP
effort to defeat the ASG on Basilan. PAS works hand-in-glove
with both USAID and JSOTF-P to ensure that perceptions of our
efforts on every front are positive.


¶10. (S) Our rewards effort builds upon the synergies between
the State and DoD programs to attack the web of
social, religious, and cultural ties upon which the
terrorists have relied for their safety and freedom.
The promise of a reward encouraged individuals to step
forward to help the AFP get ASG leader Hamsiraji Sali, ASG
terrorist Toting Craft Hanno, and JI operative Jeki. The USG
has already paid out rewards for numerous other terrorists.
We anticipate the recently announced reward of $10 million
under Rewards for Justice for Dulmatin will help bring him to


¶11. (S/NF) RMAS support and direction of the PNP’s
Intelligence Group (IG), Task Force Sanglahi, and the
Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(ISAFP) has proven critical to the capture of a number of
terrorists and the disruption of operations directed against
US interests. RMAS assistance helped lead to major
successes, such as the capture of RSM leader Ahmad Santos and
JI operatives Jeki and Faiz.


¶12. (SBU) In both your private and public remarks, we
encourage you to highlight:

— Partnership: You should reiterate that the Philippines
is a valued partner in the Global War on Terror, as well as a
Major Non-NATO Ally (despite the sudden pull-out of
Philippine troops from Iraq in July 2004 in response to the
kidnapping of Philippine driver Angelo De La Cruz);

— Anti-terrorism legislation: the Philippine House has
consolidated its efforts behind one anti-terrorism bill,
which is now out of Committee for consideration by the full
House. The Senate has also consolidated behind one bill.
However, legislative action remains stalled, despite pressure
from the Arroyo administration for action. You should stress
the need to pass effective anti-terrorism legislation that
will give law enforcement agencies the tools to fight and
defeat terrorism, without compromising civil liberties;

— Peace talks: With growing optimism by both the GRP and
the MILF that the Malaysian-brokered peace talks could end
with an agreement by mid-2006, both sides are also looking
for USG developmental support similar to what we provided in
the wake of the 1996 agreement with the MNLF. Settling
Bangsamoro claims for autonomy would politically mainstream a
15,000-strong insurgent group, and make a significant
contribution to stabilizing the region. You should commend
President Arroyo for the progress her government has made
thus far, emphasize the strong US backing for the successful
conclusion of the negotiations, and note USG willingness to
consider new assistance programs by USAID to advance the
goals of the peace agreement.


¶13. (SBU)

— Espionage case: The October 2005 arrest in the United
States of an FBI employee of Filipino descent for espionage
made front page news for weeks in the Philippines, focusing
on his alleged ties with Opposition leaders Senator Panfilo
Lacson and former president Joseph Estrada. Alleged Embassy
reporting was quoted in the press, apparently designed to
create discord between the government and the United States.
Because of your role as the Director of National
Intelligence, Arroyo or her advisers may mention this case.
In response to one alleged Embassy report, former President
Ramos publicly asked you, as DNI and former Ambassador, to
refute it Charge has met Ramos and cleared the air, but the
press may ask you about it. Our consistent line is that the
issue remains before the courts and we cannot comment on law
enforcement matters.

— Alleged rape case: Six U.S. Marines are now under
investigation by Philippine officials as well as US military
authorities for involvement in an alleged rape in Subic on
November 1. They remain in U.S. custody under the terms of
the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Our consistent line is
that we intend fully to comply with the terms of the VFA,
that we are committed to seeing justice done, and that the
accused should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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



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