Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/05/08MANILA1255.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1255
2008-05-23 07:57
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1599
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1255/01 1440757
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 230757Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0805
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MANILA 001255

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP FOR TOOLAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2018
TAGS: MARR MOPS PINS PREL PTER RP
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR ADMIRAL MULLEN’S VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINES

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Admiral, we appreciate your engagement with
Philippine officials at Shangri-La and your subsequent visit
to the Philippines. The Philippines has undergone many
positive changes since the last visit of the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs to the Philippines in 2002, many as a result of
sustained U.S. assistance over the last six years. President
Arroyo maintains her political strength, in part due to
robust economic growth. The Philippine Armed Forces have
scored significant successes against terrorists in the
southern Philippines, while supporting the Philippine
government’s efforts to make peace with Muslim insurgents.
Philippine Defense Secretary Teodoro has taken active control
of defense reform, with positive results. On May 12, General
Alexander Yano became the Chief of Staff of the Philippine
Armed Services, replacing General Hermogenes Esperon, who was
put in charge of the peace process with Muslim insurgents.
We look forward to showing you the great progress U.S. and
Philippine forces have made in defeating terrorists in the
area through a combination of hard and soft power approaches.
Increased security has allowed USAID and other USG agencies
to implement development projects in areas prone to terrorist
recruitment. You will have an opportunity to discuss key
strategic issues such as our shared counterterrorism fight
and regional concerns, including the humanitarian crisis in
Burma, with President Arroyo at Malacanang Palace in Manila.
END SUMMARY.

——————-
PHILIPPINE POLITICS
——————-

¶2. (C) Philippine politics remains unsettled, but President
Gloria Arroyo’s administration has weathered several
scandals. She retains a firm grip on the House of
Representatives and among a large majority of provincial
governors and local mayors. Her relationship with top
security officials remains strong, and military and police
personnel have largely kept out of political debates and
stayed focused on their security roles.

——————-
ECONOMICS AND TRADE
——————-

¶3. (C) Philippine GDP grew by 7.3% in 2007, the fastest pace
of growth in over three decades. Growth was fueled by
increased government and private construction expenditures, a
robust information communications technology industry;
improved agricultural harvests; and strong private
consumption, spurred in part by $14.4 billion in remittances
from overseas workers (equivalent to about 11% of GDP).
Record economic growth and an improved image moved the
Philippines up five places to 40th in the latest World
Competitiveness Yearbook rankings, its best performance in a
decade. GDP growth is expected to slow in 2008, but still
reach between 5-6%. President Arroyo has an impressive
reform agenda — privatize the electric power sector, build
infrastructure, increase education funding, and reduce
business red tape — but still faces significant hurdles,
particularly in improving the investment climate. The U.S.
remains the Philippines’ largest trading partner, with over
$17.1 billion in two-way merchandise trade in 2007.

——————-
MILITARY ENGAGEMENT
——————-

¶4. (C) With a large Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group
(JUSMAG), Defense Attach Office, and approximately 550 Joint
Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P)
personnel, our military engagement is broad and far reaching.
All military personnel are integrated into the Country Team,
and their input shapes decisions and policy. Apart from
JUSMAG’s traditional role of training and military sales, we
have focused on assisting the Philippine Armed Forces with
revising their doctrine to promote ethics and human rights.
At the same time, members of JSOTF-P work side by side with
Philippine troops, advising and assisting in counterterrorism
operations. Our military cooperates closely with U.S. law
enforcement and intelligence agencies to achieve important

MANILA 00001255 002 OF 004

successes in the counterterrorism efforts. This cooperation
has resulted in the death or capture of eight key terrorist
leaders and over 200 other terrorism suspects since August
2006, including the deaths of Abu Sayyaf Group leaders
Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Solaiman. Recently, Philippine
Forces mounted a surgical strike that destroyed a known
terrorist camp in Jolo that had served as a safe haven for
Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members for almost
two years.

¶5. (C) Several large-scale bilateral exercises are conducted
each year between U.S. and Philippine forces, and the
increase in humanitarian activities associated with these
exercises has been welcomed by the Philippine government.
While the Army and Marines have had the most engagement with
Philippine counterparts over the last six years, we have
begun to see a sharp up-tick in the number of ship visits in
the last two years. The numerous community relations events
associated with a growing number of ship visits — from 56 in
2006 to more than 120 estimated for 2008 — have leveraged
our ability to provide humanitarian assistance to areas
otherwise difficult to reach. The recent visit of the USS
Blue Ridge was very successful and we look forward to the
return visit of the USNS MERCY to the Philippines from May 29
to June 17, when U.S., Philippine, and partner nation medical
personnel will treat an estimated 30,000 people. While
engagement between the U.S. and Philippine militaries
continues to grow, we must be mindful there is small, but
vocal group of leftists and political elites who mistakenly
believe that we are seeking to re-establish permanent
military bases here. As such, local sensitivities regarding
this issue may at times cloud the very positive benefits of
this on-going engagement.

——————————————— ———
ARMED FORCES HAVE STRONG CIVIL AND MILITARY LEADERSHIP
——————————————— ———-

¶6. (C) At the Shangri-La Dialogues in Singapore, you will
meet Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto
Teodoro and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces LTG Alexander
Yano. As a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class
of 1976, Yano enjoys a particularly close relationship with
Secretary Teodoro, an adopted member of the Class of ’76 and
Air Force reserve officer. Yano is well known to the
Ambassador and the Embassy, and the mission has had an
excellent relationship with him throughout his career — most
recently in his position as Commanding General of the Army,
in which he was active in Philippine Defense Reform.
Secretary Teodoro, the youngest Defense Secretary in
Philippine history, is a Harvard-educated lawyer and former
Congressman and Wall Street investment banker. He is bright,
articulate, and committed to building the capability and
prestige of a military firmly under civilian control.
————
GENERAL YANO
————

¶7. (C) General Yano was installed as the 38th Chief of Staff
of the Armed Forces on May 12, 2008, after 10 months as
Commander of the Philippine Army. Yano is considered one of
the most capable and experienced officers in combating
terrorism. As Chief of Staff, Yano has vowed publicly to
intensify the fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group and the New
People’s Army, and has been unambiguous in his commitment to
upholding the rule of law, “even in the face of the fiercest
battles.” Following up such statements with concrete actions
will be key for Yano to establish himself as a leader who
promotes respect for human rights at all levels in the Armed
Forces and to have success implementing reforms begun by his
predecessor to clean up the military’s image as a human
rights violator. Yano is the first Mindanao-born military
officer to assume the top position in the military. He is
seen as loyal to President Arroyo and a strong advocate
against military adventurism and has undergone training for
various military career fields, including Special Forces
Operations and Intelligence. Yano, who graduated from the
U.S. Infantry Officer Advanced Course in 1986, engages easily
with U.S. civilian and military officials and interacts well
with PACOM. We judge he will further strengthen bilateral
activities. General Yano tends to be initially quiet and
reserved. You will find a warm personality and quiet sense

MANILA 00001255 003 OF 004

of humor as he relaxes in the course of a conversation.

—————–
SECRETARY TEODORO
—————–

¶8. (C) Secretary Teodoro is polished, smart, and very
pleasant. He is a talented public speaker who connects well
to audiences at all levels. Many believe he is a future
Presidential contender in the Philippines. The 43-year old
Teodoro is very much at ease with Americans and has built a
very good relationship with the Armed Forces of the
Philippines and with President Arroyo. Teodoro’s wife is a
member of the Philippine Congress.

¶9. (C) In an encouraging sign of deepening support for the
ongoing armed forces overhaul, Secretary Teodoro took
personal control of Philippine Defense Reform last November,
and the Philippine government plans to spend about USD 100
million annually through 2012 to fund defense reform
initiatives. To date, the Philippines has spent over $400
million on defense reform in the last three years, including
$28 million to match U.S. foreign military financing.
Teodoro is personally involved in the process down to the
working level, and is currently putting his own personnel
into key positions of authority. A major outcome of defense
reform will be insulating the decisionmaking process so that
competent staff are conducting planning, acquisition, and
budgeting activities “without interference from knee-jerk or
irrational inputs,” as Teodoro has emphasized.

—————————
MINDANAO: THE PEACE PROCESS
—————————

¶10. (C) The Philippine government continues its efforts to
work out a comprehensive peace agreement with the insurgent
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), even as it seeks to
fully implement its 1996 deal with the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF). While progress on both tracks is
fitful, a peace deal this year with the MILF still appears a
possibility, though difficult negotiations on governance and
revenue sharing remain. It is clear from our discussions
with both government and insurgent leaders that all sides
recognize the importance of an enduring peace for the
long-term prosperity of Mindanao. President Arroyo just
announced that former Chief of Staff General Esperon will
become the new cabinet-level secretary responsible for peace
processes with both Muslim insurgents and with the Communist
New People’s Army.

——————————-
USAID’S COMMITMENT TO MINDANAO
——————————-

¶11. (U) Since the mid-1990s USAID has implemented a sizable
and highly effective program throughout the island of
Mindanao and the neighboring Sulu Archipelago provinces of
Basilan, Jolo, and Tawi-Tawi. During this period,
approximately two-thirds of all USAID resources for the
Philippines have been committed to these areas. USAID
sponsored activities in these areas include infrastructure
development, school computerization, health and education
improvement, environmental management improvement, former
combatant reintegration, and governance improvement. Under
the Growth with Equity in Mindanao-2 Program, USAID has
financed the construction of 830 community level and 40
regional impact infrastructure projects throughout the
conflict-affected communities of Mindanao with the objective
of encouraging economic growth and demonstrating the
continuing commitment of both the Philippine and the U.S.
governments to the peace process.

——————————-
UNLAWFUL/EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS
——————————-

¶12. (C) Extrajudicial killings remain one of the thorniest
issues for the Arroyo administration, with critics charging
that rogue elements of the Philippine police and military are
responsible for killings. President Arroyo has spoken out
consistently and strongly on the issue and has taken a

MANILA 00001255 004 OF 004

variety of steps to address the problem, including the
creation of active police and prosecutorial task forces and
investigative commissions. By the end of 2007, these steps,
as well as intensified domestic and international attention
to the problem, appeared to have had a measurable impact,
with government agencies and human rights NGOs reporting a
significant decline in the number of extrajudicial killings
during the year. AFP Chief of Staff General Yano’s first
public speech emphasized the importance of human rights and
rule of law in the military. We expect him to push to
further improve efforts to address extrajudicial killings.
The Embassy carefully vets all proposed military and law
enforcement personnel about to receive U.S.-funded training
both internally and with relevant Philippine authorities to
comply with the terms of the Leahy Amendments. The Mission
is currently working with Department of Justice officials
regarding prosecutorial assistance to ensure perpetrators are
brought to justice.

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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