Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/02/08MANILA463.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA463
2008-02-22 08:50
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9849
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 000463

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2018
TAGS: MARR MOPS PINS PREL PTER RP
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR LTG MIXON’S VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINES

MANILA 00000463 001.2 OF 003

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

¶1. (SBU) Summary: LTG Mixon, welcome to the Philippines!
You are coming to the Philippines at an important time. With
U.S. support, the Armed Forces of the Philippines are
targeting terrorists on islands in the southern Philippines,
while supporting the government’s efforts to make peace with
Muslim insurgents. Under the leadership of Philippines
Secretary of National Defense Teodoro and Chief of Staff

SIPDIS
General Esperon, the Philippines is fully committed to
Defense reform. U.S. Pacific Command is an essential partner
in our efforts to defeat terrorism through a combination of
hard and soft power that the Philippines emulates. The Joint
Special Operations Task Force-Philippines is well integrated
into overall USG counterterrorism and development programs.
During your visit you will meet Philippine civilian and
military leaders, and visit combined training associated with
Balikatan 2008. End Summary.

PPHILIPPINE POLITICS
——————–

¶2. (SBU) Philippine politics is lively, with President Gloria
Arroyo’s administration facing renewed charges of corruption.
The President retains a firm grip on the House of
Representatives, where she orchestrated the removal of the
former Speaker of the House in favor of another political
ally, and enjoys the support of a large majority of
provincial governors and local mayors. Her relationship with
top security officials also remains strong, as evidenced by
their recent reminders to military and police personnel to
stay out of political debates and stay focused on their
security roles. The public may be suffering from scandal
fatigue, as numerous calls for demonstrations have not
produced large crowds for a country of 90 million people.

ECONOMICS AND TRADE
——————-

¶3. (C) The Philippine economy grew over 7 percent in 2007,
the strongest expansion in three decades, and the third
consecutive year of growth above 5 percent. Unemployment and
inflation are down, and government revenues are up, even in
the face of rising fuel prices, continued corruption
allegations, terrorist bombings, and political tumult.
President Arroyo has an impressive reform agenda — privatize
the electric sector, build infrastructure, increase education
funding, and reduce business red tape — but still faces
significant hurdles, particularly in improving the investment
climate. There is also considerable concern over the impact
of a slowdown in U.S. economic growth, as the U.S. remains
the Philippines’ largest trading partner, with over $17.3
billion in two-way merchandise trade, and largest investor,
with $6.6 billion in equity.

SECURITY AND INSURGENCIES
————————-

¶4. (C) President Arroyo is a committed counterterrorism
partner, and has repeatedly demonstrated her willingness to
work closely with us to combat terrorists who established
themselves in the Philippines during the 1990s. Military and
law enforcement forces scored several major victories in the
counterterrorism fight during the last 18 months, including
the deaths in military operations of the leaders of the Abu
Sayyaf terrorist group, which has links to international
terrorist organizations and is responsible for the deaths of
Americans and Filipinos alike. On February 17, the
Philippine Armed Forces recovered the suspected remains of
Bali bomber and senior Jemaah Islamiyah member Dulmatin. FBI
agents are assisting Philippine National Police in the
forensic examinations and DNA analysis, which will take
several weeks. In recent military operations, Philippine
troops killed two significant local Abu Sayyaf commanders in
Basilan suspected of involvement in several terrorist
attacks, including an October 2002 bombing that killed a U.S.
serviceman.

¶5. (C) Success in the government’s peace process with Muslim
insurgents would help deny terrorists safe haven. Currently,
rogue insurgent commanders harbor terrorists, frequently due
to complex clan and family relationships. We are directly

MANILA 00000463 002 OF 003

engaged with all peace process players, including the
insurgency’s leadership, to press for progress in peace talks
and the severing of ties to terrorists. The Malaysian-led
International Monitoring Team has helped stabilize the
four-year ceasefire between the Philippine government and the
Muslim insurgents.

¶6. (C) While not the U.S. counterterrorism priority, the
Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army
insurgency, which is unconnected to international terrorism,
remains a virulent nationwide threat. Its ideology and
tactics hold little appeal for the overwhelming majority of
Filipinos, but the movement is fueled by poverty,
insufficient government services, and discontent with the
corruption permeating the political system. The U.S. and
European Union August 2002 designation of the New People’s
Army as a terrorist organization set back its overseas
fundraising efforts. Philippine Armed Forces leaders hope to
redirect assets against the New People’s Army once they
successfully conclude an agreement with Muslim insurgents.

PHILIPPINE DEFENSE REFORM
————————-

¶7. (C) On the eve of the largest U.S.-Philippine exercises
of the year (Balikatan), the Armed Forces of the Philippines
remain heavily engaged in combating internal security threats
while continuing to enhance their limited external defense
capabilities. Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro
has taken personal control of Philippine Defense Reform, and
the Philippine government plans to spend about USD 100
million annually through 2012 funding defense reform
initiatives. The Philippines is already realizing positive
effects from these efforts including improved operational
readiness through better maintenance. At the same time, they
have promoted transparency in their procurement system, which
has allowed them to expand their combat capability. In
particular, the purchase and granting of U.S. helicopters to
the Philippines has proven helpful in improving the
military’s mobility. Long term, the defense reform program
will modernize 72 Philippine Army and 12 Philippine Marine
Corps battalions over the next six years.

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

¶8. (SBU) Extrajudicial killings remain one of the thorniest
issues for the Arroyo administration, with critics charging
that rogue elements of the Philippine military are
responsible for some politically-motivated killings.
President Arroyo has spoken out consistently and strongly on
the issue, including during the State of the Union address,
and has taken a variety of steps to address the problem such
as the creation of — or strengthening of existing —
government task forces and commissions. New U.S. assistance
to government and NGOs has helped build capacity to address
the problem. 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.

¶9. (U) 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.

THEMES:
KEEP UP COUNTERTERRORISM FIGHT, PDR, AND RULE OF LAW
——————————————— ——-

¶10. (C) In your meetings with Philippine officials, you may
want to draw on the following themes:

— The Philippines is a strong and valued partner in
counterterrorism efforts;

— Congratulations on recent successes in the fight against
terrorists, and commendations to those brave Filipinos who
provided information leading to these successful military
operations;

MANILA 00000463 003 OF 003

— We are committed to helping sustain the momentum in
Philippine counterterrorism efforts by assisting with
military and humanitarian offensives;

— We are following the peace process with great interest as
it moves forward. We fully support the government’s desire
for a durable peace agreement. We believe it is important to
keep open communications with those willing to discuss peace.

— We take the issue of extra-judicial killings seriously.
Suspects need to be apprehended and tried. We are encouraged
by steps the Philippine government has taken to eliminate
this problem, and we support the ongoing efforts to promote a
culture of democratic security that protects everyone;

— Philippine Defense Reform is transforming the Armed Forces
of the Philippines into a more modern, capable force. We are
proud to be partners in this program.

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

   

 

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