Oct 202014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/10/07MANILA3580.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3580
2007-10-31 09:58
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3893
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3580/01 3040958
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 310958Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8790
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 9713
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003580

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/31/2017
TAGS: PREL MARR PTER RP AS
SUBJECT: THE NEW AUSTRALIAN/PHILIPPINES STATUS OF FORCES
AGREEMENT: POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES

REF: MANILA 03166

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Post is tracking progress on the
Philippine-Australian Visiting Forces Agreement, which has
been passed by the Australian Parliament and awaits approval
by the Philippine Senate. While the agreement will
facilitate the Australian military’s important anti-terrorism
and training assistance here, it also could rekindle debate
over our own Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines,
particularly the treatment of armed forces members accused of
committing crimes. Under the Australian version, accused
soldiers from either country could be detained by national
authorities even before formal charges are proffered. In
contrast, the U.S.- Philippine agreement allows both sides to
retain custody of service members until all legal avenues are
exhausted — as with U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Daniel J.
Smith, who remains in custody at the Embassy while the
Appeals Court considers his appeal of a rape conviction.
With a decision on Smith’s appeal due sometime around the New
Year, and the Australian Visiting Forces Agreement likely to
be considered by the Philippine Senate soon thereafter, post
is prepared to respond to any media and political calls to
revisit our Visting Forces Agreement with the Philippines.
END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C) On October 30, the Australian Embassy told poloff that
the Australian Parliament passed the Australian-Philippine
Status of Visiting Forces Agreement in September. Both
Australian and Philippine goverment sources confirmed
President Arroyo has forwarded it to the Philippine Senate
for consideration, although it has yet to be taken up by the
Foreign Affairs Committee. The agreement will make it easier
for the Australian military to expand its array of training
programs in the Philippines, and Australian counterparts
conveyed their optimism that the agreement will lead to
increased bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and
Australia, specifically on counterterrorism and security
issues.

¶3. (C) While the Australian agreement and the
U.S.-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement are similar in some
aspects, there are significant differences between them, most
notably the issue of custody of military personnel accused of
crimes in the host countries. The Australian agreement grants
the host nation the right to maintain custody of visiting
forces personnel accused in criminal cases during all phases
of the criminal process — investigation, trial, and
post-conviction — for acts committed outside official
duties. Privately, Australian contacts told the Embassy that
there are substantially more Filipino military in Australia
for longer periods of time than Australian military in the
Philippines. Consequently, the Australians believe there is a
potential for more criminal conduct by Filipino military
personnel in Australia rather than the reverse.

¶4. (C) Under the U.S.-Philippine agreement, U.S. military
authorities to retain custody over U.S. military personnel in
the Philippines until the conclusion of all legal
proceedings. This custody issue became a point of contention
between the USG and the Philippines during the rape trial of
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Daniel J. Smith, who was found
guilty by a Philippine judge in December 2006 and sentenced
to a maximum of 40 years in prison (reftel). The Smith trial
was the single most reported story in the Philippine press in
¶2006. At the time, senior Philippine government and
congressional leaders raised the possibility of renegotiating
the custody provisions of the U.S. agreement or clarifying
custody language through an exchange of diplomatic notes.
The Embassy persuaded senior government officials that any
discussion regarding renegotiating or clarifying provisions
in the agreement would be premature until the conclusion of
judicial proceedings in the Smith trial. Smith’s conviction
is on appeal, with a decision expected before January 3,
¶2008. A further appeal to the Philippine Supreme Court could
follow.

¶5. (C) Although the media and political circles have yet to
take any significant notice of the Philippine government’s
consideration of the Australian agreement or draw any link to
the U.S.-Philippine arrangement, the convergence of a
decision in the Smith trial with impending Senate debate on
the Australian agreement could rekindle the Philippine
public’s interest in the U.S. Visting Forces Agreement. Such
a scenario would likely lead to a call by public activists
and government officials to renegotiate the agreement.

MANILA 00003580 002 OF 002

Should that occur, the Embassy is prepared to implement a
broad public and political affairs strategy to deflect
criticism of the agreement and promote the efficacy of the
current status quo.

KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.