Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1047.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1047 2006-03-07 08:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO0325
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1047/01 0660852
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 070852Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9781
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001047

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR RP
SUBJECT: SENATE PRESIDENT UNDER PRESSURE FROM WITHIN HIS PARTY AND IN THE SENATE

REF: A. 05 MANILA 4740
¶B. 05 MANILA 3154
¶C. 05 MANILA 2406

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Opponents of Senate President Drilon took
action on March 2 to strip him of his leadership position in
the Liberal Party (LP). Drilon is contesting the move.
Contacts are also reporting that Drilon is under pressure in
the Senate from elements who want to see him removed from his
post there. If Drilon loses his position in the Senate, it
would be a political victory for Malacanang, but it almost
certainly would not cure the Senate’s ills, which include
grandstanding and delays in action on legislation. End
Summary.

—————————-
LP Elements Challenge Drilon
—————————-

¶2. (U) On March 2, Manila Mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza, Jr.
called a meeting of LP leaders and declared himself the
party’s new president, replacing Senate President Franklin
Drilon. (Note: The Liberal Party is one of the largest and
oldest political parties in the Philippines, with 32 members
in the House and four in the Senate. President Arroyo is an
Honorary Chair of the party. End Note.) Atienza also
appointed Mike Defensor, President Arroyo’s Chief of Staff,
to be LP Chairman (a position formerly held by Atienza).

¶3. (U) Atienza said he had undertaken the move in order to
return the LP to the “status quo.” He claimed that Drilon
had failed to consult fully with other party leaders before
he publicly announced that the LP was withdrawing support
from President Arroyo in July 2005 (ref B). Atienza said he
and others in the LP who still support President Arroyo had
waited “patiently” for Drilon to call a meeting of party
members to resolve the situation, but Drilon’s refusal to
discuss party matters had forced them to act.

————-
Fighting Back
————-

¶4. (U) In response, Drilon publicly averred that he remained
the President of the LP and that Atienza’s actions violated
party rules. He claimed that any decision reached at the
March 2 meeting was not binding because a quorum of the LP
National Executive Council was not present. Drilon vowed to
take the matter up with the Commission on Elections
(COMELEC). (Note: The position of party president in the
Philippines is key for electoral purposes because COMELEC
recognizes the person in that spot as the authoritative
representative of the party in formation of candidate lists
and in terms of correspondence. End Note.)

¶5. (C) Liberal Party stalwart and longtime politician Jovito
Salonga has offered to mediate the dispute between the two
factions. Drilon’s Chief of Staff Governor Antonio Gallardo
told poloff on March 7 that Drilon would withhold action on a
petition he filed with COMELEC over the weekend in deference
to Salonga. (Note: In comments to the press, Benjamin
Abalos, the head of COMELEC, has indicated that Drilon
remained on the books as party president as far as his
organization was concerned. End Note.)

———————————
Trouble for Drilon in the Senate?
———————————

¶6. (C) Contacts report that Drilon is also under pressure in
the Senate from elements who want to see him removed from his
post as Senate President. According to contacts, Malacanang
has been pushing senators to join together to form a majority
to challenge Drilon. Under Senate rules, a member may
declare the position of Senate President “open” at any time
with the support of a simple majority. The top candidate to
challenge Drilon would likely be Manuel “Manny” Villar of the
Nacionalista Party. Villar and Drilon reached a “gentleman’s
agreement” in 2004 to split the Senate President term between
them. Drillon later said he would yield the position only if
Villar had enough votes to unseat him. Other senators have
had their eye on the position as well. Gallardo, Drilon’s
Chief of Staff, told poloff that he doubted that Drilon would
be replaced, asserting that no other senator had enough votes

MANILA 00001047 002 OF 002

to do so.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (C) If Drilon loses his position in the Senate, it would
be a political victory for the pro-Arroyo camp. Malacanang
has had it out for Drilon since he switched sides and
demanded that President Arroyo resign during the height of
political turmoil in July 2005. Even if Drilon is ousted
(and it is not at all clear that he indeed will be), it
almost certainly would not be a long-term cure for the
Senate’s many ills, which include constant infighting,
grandstanding, and long delays in action on legislation.

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/

Bellard

   

 

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