Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09MANILA1781.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1781
2009-08-20 10:24
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO6932
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1781/01 2321024
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201024Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4948
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001781

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2019
TAGS: PREL RP
SUBJECT: SENATOR NELSON AND PGMA LAUD SECURITY COOPERATION, FORESEE PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF POWER IN 2010

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In an August 19 meeting at Malacanang
Palace, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Senator Bill
Nelson lauded the close intelligence and military cooperation
that has enabled major successes against violent extremists
in the southern Philippines. President Arroyo pledged to
continue her efforts to forge a comprehensive and durable
peace accord with insurgent Muslims in Mindanao, while
underscoring her commitment to stepping up the fight against
terrorists there. The President agreed with Senator Nelson’s
belief that the Philippines’ national election next year
would see a peaceful and orderly transition of power to the
next president, observing that this was part of Philippine
tradition. President Arroyo strongly criticized the Burmese
government’s imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi, but was
skeptical that ASEAN partners would agree to review Burma’s
membership in the grouping. Senator Nelson welcomed the
Philippines’ pledge to work closely with the U.S. as chair of
the NPT review conference. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) Senator Nelson expressed his deep condolences on the
deaths of 23 Philippine soldiers in a fierce firefight with
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists on Basilan island in
southern Mindanao August 12, and lauded the courage and
expertise of U.S.-trained Light Reaction Company (LRC)
forces who went in to rescue their comrades. Senator Nelson
welcomed the briefing he received from Western Mindanao
Command chief Major General Ben Dolorfino during a visit to
Zamboanga August 18 on the outcome of the battle, and voiced
his appreciation for the excellent military and intelligence
cooperation that was evident between Philippine and U.S.
forces in this vital effort against terrorists in Mindanao.
He praised the strong relations between both countries’
intelligence services, and noted in particular that our well
integrated intelligence efforts had brought significant
successes in our shared fight against extremists.

SUPERB FUSION OF INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY COOPERATION
——————————————— ———

¶3. (C) President Arroyo voiced strong agreement with the
Senator’s observations, saying that our intelligence fusion
was so good that it was impossible to tell where the efforts
of one side began and the other’s ended. The President
lamented the soldiers’ deaths, but said that their courageous
efforts had helped deal a significant blow against the ASG.
The Light Reaction Company’s success in taking over the ASG’s
largest camp on Basilan was testament to the superb training
the LRC had received from U.S. forces. Moreover, the
Philippine special forces had been able to pinpoint the ASG’s
location using accurate information that flowed directly from
our joint intelligence efforts. President Arroyo voiced
strong appreciation to the U.S. government and legislative
branch for the wide array of support provided to the
Philippines — intelligence, military training, supplies.
U.S. help enabled the Philippines to improve its soft and
hard power efforts to defeat terrorism.

PEACE PROCESS MOVING FORWARD
—————————-

¶4. (C) President Arroyo pledged to continue efforts to reach
a comprehensive peace deal with Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) insurgents in Mindanao during her final months in
office. She suggested that of the dozen or so political
figures who had expressed interest in seeking the presidency,
only one had voiced an opinion on the peace process — and
that was to speak out against a peace deal. So the next
Philippine president might not have the political will to
seek peace. The apparent negative attitude of the
presidential candidates could work to the benefit of the
peace process, President Arroyo asserted, putting pressure on
both the government and the MILF to come to terms on an
overarching deal before the end of her term. The two sides
were currently working on two agreements, to protect
civilians in Mindanao and to set up an international contact
group to help advise Malaysia, the facilitator of the peace
talks, on how to move toward an agreement acceptable to both
sides. The goal was to move beyond the narrower agenda of
territorial issues and revenue-sharing that had dominated
talks last year, and deal with the entire array of concerns
that must be addressed. The President acknowledged that the
peace effort could be complicated by her concurrent
determination to aggressively target terrorists in close
proximity to some MILF forces. Some MILF forces had joined

MANILA 00001781 002 OF 002

in the Basilan firefight on the side of the ASG, and the MILF
leadership had to condemn such actions by rogue elements.

SMOOTH TRANSITION OF POWER IN 2010
———————————-

¶5. (C) Noting President Arroyo’s eight years in the
Philippines’ highest office, Senator Nelson said the
President had been given an important opportunity to lead and
serve the Philippine people. The Senator felt certain that
given the President’s strong and steady leadership, the
upcoming May 2010 national elections would see a peaceful and
successful transition of power to a new president. President
Arroyo also anticipated a smooth transition of power, saying
it had always been part of the Philippine tradition since
1946, except for the martial law period. Senator Nelson
expressed confidence that President Arroyo would ensure the
transition of power would return to the way it had been,
smooth and peaceful.

THANKS FOR ADDED VETERANS’ BENEFIT
———————————-

¶6. (C) Turning to veterans’ issues, President Arroyo welcomed
the U.S. Senate’s role in passing legislation as part of the
fiscal stimulus package last February that granted additional
benefits to Filipinos who had been called to service by
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This was important
recognition for the contributions and sacrifices that
Filipinos made during the war, the President said, and was
deeply appreciated by Filipinos. Senator Nelson noted that
it had been somewhat unusual for a benefit for the
Philippines to be included in a domestic stimulus package.
He noted that justice sometimes takes time to come to
fruition. Japanese Americans had waited many decades as well
to be compensated for their internment during WWII.

NPT: NONPROLIFERATION KEY AREA FOR COOPERATION
——————————————— –

¶7. (C) Citing another key area for U.S.-Philippine
cooperation in the coming months, President Arroyo pledged
extremely close cooperation with Washington on the
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference. Noting that
the Philippines would chair the review conference, and her
expectation that President Obama would open the conference on
September 24, she voiced determination that the 2010
conference would not be the “disaster” that many viewed the
2005 conference to be. Secretary Romulo said that the
Philippines wanted to help attain President Obama’s goal of
enacting the NPT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
during his term in office. Senator Nelson lauded the
Philippine government’s intentions, and said that the goal
was to reduce warheads eventually to the level of 600. He
said that once a good treaty was ready, he looked forward to
working to ratify it in the U.S. Senate.

SHARP CRITICISM OF BURMA
————————

¶8. (C) Underscoring her government’s strong condemnation of
the Burmese junta’s conviction and sentencing of democracy
activist Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), President Arroyo said she
might ask her ASEAN partners to consider reviewing Burma’s
membership in the organization, based on its leaders’ failure
to make progress on the roadmap to democracy. She said it
would be extremely difficult to convince other ASEAN members
to reach consensus on this, as some — like the Thai prime
minister — were advocating closer engagement with Burma as
the best way to improve the country’s poor human rights and
political record. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Romulo added
that the Thais believed that it was U.S. engagement — and
pressure — that had forced the junta to reduce ASSK’s
sentence, and to release John Yettaw.

¶9. (U) Senator Nelson’s delegation cleared this cable.
KENNEY

   

 

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