Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06MANILA4814.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4814 2006-11-27 04:02 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO8567
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4814/01 3310402
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270402Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4064
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004814

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2016
TAGS: PGOV EAID PHUM SOCI MARR RP
SUBJECT: SENATE PRESIDENT VILLAR SEEKS QUANTIFIABLE RESULTS

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. In a meeting with the Ambassador November
22, new Senate President Manuel Villar predicted that the
Senate will pass a budget before the end of the calendar year
and characterized the chances of passage of the
anti-terrorism bill as excellent. Senator Villar suspects
that the Arroyo Administration will continue to push for
charter change to a parliamentary system, this time through a
constitutional assembly method that may not need Senate
approval. He characterized his relationship with the Arroyo
Administration as “acceptable.” He did however underscore
that he intends to work with the Administration to achieve
quantifiable legislative results. Though sometimes lukewarm
on U.S.-Philippine relations, Villar was warm, friendly, and
engaging during the meeting. END SUMMARY.

LEGISLATION RATHER THAN INVESTIGATION
————————————-

¶2. (C) The Ambassador met November 22 new Senate President
Manuel “Manny” Villar, whose Nacionalista Party helped
President Arroyo get elected but has been lukewarm towards
the Administration since the 2005 elections scandal. Villar
was clearly pleased that Ambassador and DCM came to his
offices. In a Senate often accused of investigating, rather
than legislating, Villar touted legislative initiatives under
his leadership. Villar promised that, for the first time in
several years, the Senate would pass a budget before the end
of the calendar year. Villar voiced support for investment
incentives, and lamented that the Philippines had not
capitalized on previous regional economic booms. He declared
that the Senate would not be a “hindrance” to economic
development initiatives.

ANTI-TERRORISM BILL PROCEEDING
——————————

¶3. (C) Villar praised U.S. assistance in addressing
terrorism in the Philippines. He added that significant
progress had been made on the anti-terrorism bill and stated
that prospects for its passage during this Congressional
session were excellent. According to Villar, the bill has
progressed from a period of interpellation (general
discussion in the Senate) to a short period for individual
amendments. Following this period for individual amendments,
the bill will be forwarded to the House-Senate Conference
Committee for conformance. (The House passed its version of
the bill earlier this year.)

ADMINISTRATION NOT DONE WITH CHARTER-CHANGE
——————————————-

¶4. (C) Commenting on a recent close Supreme Court ruling
that essentially killed a “People’s Initiative” to amend the
Constitution, Villar noted that the Arroyo Administration is
not yet ready to bury the issue. The proposed amendment
would have transformed the government from a bicameral to a
unicameral system by abolishing the Senate. According to
Villar, the Administration will push for a Constitutional
Assembly, whereby three-quarters of the Congress can assemble
to revise the Constitution. Because the Senate is comprised
of only 24 members and the House of 250, Villar described a
scenario wherein House members, without Senate participation,
could reach three-quarters of the Congressmen needed for such
revision. Villar speculated that in such case, the Senate
would have no choice but to raise the issue before the
Supreme Court, where any decision is possible, particularly
given that the Chief Justice is set to retire next month and
the Administration will appoint his successor.

AMBIVALENT ABOUT MALACANANG
—————————

¶5. (C) Villar characterized his relationship with the Arroyo
Administration as “acceptable.” Speaking specifically about
the President, he was ambivalent, “I don’t dislike the
President, but I don’t admire her,” he said, but he indicated
his strong desire to work with the Administration to obtain
“quantifiable” results. He was contemptuous of politicians
who work towards the “good of the people.” “I don’t know
what that means; I want to be able to measure what I’ve
accomplished,” he said. Villar described himself as a
manager with concrete plans rather than a politician with
grandiose goals.

MANILA 00004814 002 OF 002

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) Given that Villar tends to be critical of Philippine
“subservience” towards the U.S., his candid, warm, and
conciliatory tone towards the Ambassador was surprising.
Often mentioned as a 2010 presidential contender, Villar, a
self-made man and the wealthiest member of the Senate,
brimmed with confidence and generally spoke with the
self-assurance of a candidate presenting his vision for
progress. He was clearly ambivalent about his relationship
with President Arroyo, though he appeared to recognize the
need to work with her to obtain results.

KENNEY

   

 

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