Oct 292014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/03/09MANILA612.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA612
2009-03-18 10:28
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #0612/01 0771028
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 181028Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3582
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000612

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/18/2019
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL RP
SUBJECT: U.S. ASSISTANCE AND ENGAGEMENT KEY TO PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN MINDANAO

REF: MANILA 562

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

¶1. (C) Summary. I just spent several days driving up the
spine of Central Mindanao to talk with people from all walks
of life, to listen to views, and to assess prospects for
peace and development. Despite the frustration of the past
six months as the peace process broke down and fighting began
anew, I heard a clear and strong desire for peace from all
sectors. Assistance from the United States, whether through
our USAID projects, from the U.S. military, or from
American-led companies or NGOs makes an incredible difference
in fostering a positive climate for peace and prosperity.
Our engagement draws others in as well. Spurred by our work,
the Philippine Government has made important investments in
infrastructure in Central Mindanao. Small grants from the
United States have created large NGO communities involved in
peace building. Our contributions to UN agencies, such as
UNICEF and World Food Program, have drawn in contributions
from the EU, Japan and other countries. The very clear
message from all was the importance of continued engagement
in Mindanao by the United States. We are making an
important difference and have every reason to be proud of the
role our assistance plays in Mindanao. End Summary.

¶2. (U) I often visit Mindanao to talk with leaders, meet
with beneficiaries of US programs and view US-sponsored
projects. I wanted this trip to offer chances to listen to
as many sectors possible to gauge prospects for peace and the
impact of our assistance. I spent two days driving from
General Santos City to Cotabato City. Reftel describes the
trip and our many stops in more detail.

¶3. (C) The impact of the programs we fund in Mindanao is
tremendous. Our assistance has brought insurgents off the
battlefield and into the agriculture fields. We visited a
still poor village where the standard of living has
dramatically increased thanks to income from USAID projects
including vegetable cultivation, a solar dryer for rice/corn
and construction of a small bridge so that products can get
to market. Villagers couldn,t say thank you often enough.
All of them urged that we not forget Mindanao and that we
spread the word about the difference a productive life makes
in solving conflicts. I talked with NGOs and community
leaders involved in conflict mediation projects (some funded
by USAID, but not all). Their dedication and determination
to achieve peace was overwhelming. Each phrased their
insights differently but their message was the same: American
assistance matters deeply to us and American efforts to
promote peace and development are indispensable.

¶4. (C) We sat down in a camp for displaced persons with
local officials and representatives of NGO relief
organizations. Most of the workers have not had a day off
since fighting resumed last August. They described
frightened people, a crushing burden on local social
resources in already poor communities, and a need to end the
conflict so that lives can improve. They also – –
unsolicited – – praised US humanitarian contributions for
displaced people as well as assistance from the US military
in terms of medical assistance and simple items, such as hand
crank radios.

¶5. (C) It is easy to become frustrated with the slow
process of building a cease-fire and getting the parties back
to peace talks. It is easy to note that our engagement in
Mindanao goes back more than a decade and to wonder if maybe
we haven,t already done enough. But the honest assessment
is that, in tandem with the crucial support our military
forces provide their Philippine counterparts, our assistance
has improved the quality of life for millions of people. Our
assistance and engagement have given so many in Mindanao a
chance to have a productive future. And in doing so, we have
removed many who would harm United States interests from the
battlefield and made the lives of our citizens safer and more
productive as a result. Despite the renewed fighting in
recent months, the sentiment on the ground at the heart of
the conflict in Central Mindanao is overwhelmingly in favor
of peace.

¶6. (C) Our assistance to Mindanao is slowly but surely
creating a cadre of people who see a future free from
violence and extremism. Our engagement has convinced others
to participate as well. Japan, the EU and Australia now all
contribute some development assistance. Several Organization
of Islamic Countries have built schools and mosques. But no
nation has the sort of special relationship with the
Philippines that we do. No nation has our degree of access,

MANILA 00000612 002 OF 002

acceptability or influence. Our continued engagement is
vital to push all sides to resume negotiations and establish
a cease-fire. Our continued assistance is critical to the
path out of poverty and violence for communities desperate
for a better future.

KENNEY

   

 

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