Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10MANILA369.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA369
2010-02-22 08:28
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #0369/01 0530828
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZEL
O 220828Z FEB 10 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6668
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 0004
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0372
RUEHIC/OICCO IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000369

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (CORRECTED ADDRESS)

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL KISL KDEM PGOV PTER RP
SUBJECT: U.S. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM COMMISSION CHAIR PRESSES PRESIDENT ARROYO ON “DEFAMATION OF RELIGION” RESOLUTIONS

REF: A. 09 STATE 128320
¶B. 09 MANILA 2508

MANILA 00000369 001.4 OF 002

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (SBU) Leonard Leo, Chairman of the U.S. Commission on
International Religious Freedom (CIRF), explained to
President Arroyo in a February 19 meeting that some countries
use opposition to “defamation of religion” to restrict free
speech and enable repressive blasphemy laws. Leo,
accompanied by the Charge, urged that the Philippines join
the recent trend of voting against or abstaining on
international bodies’ resolutions against defamation of
religion. Arroyo said the GRP would consider the issue and
inform the Philippine mission to the UN of the CIRF view.
Leo praised the Philippines’ leadership in promoting
interfaith dialogue. Arroyo said she viewed such dialogue as
an important element in counterterrorism and the Philippines’
southern peace process. End Summary.

PARTICIPANTS
————

¶2. (SBU) U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
(CIRF) Chairman Leonard Leo called on President Arroyo at
Malacanang Palace on February 19. Leo was accompanied by the
Charge d’Affaires, CIRF Commissioner Talal Eid, CIRF
professional staff members David Dettoni and Scott Flipse,
and Poloff. GRP officials present included Isabel Tobias,
Secretary General of the Presidential Council of Interfaith
Initiatives; and Ambassador Leslie Gatan, Department of
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for United Nations and
International Organizations. Cagayan de Oro Archbishop
Antonio Ledesma and visiting Sri Lankan Bishop Godfrey
Yogarajah also joined the meeting.

PHILIPPINE LEADERSHIP ON INTERFAITH DIALOGUE
——————————————–

¶3. (SBU) Leo thanked Arroyo for receiving his delegation and
explained the role of the CIRF. Contrasting the Philippines
with several East Asian countries that had poor records on
religious freedom, Leo applauded Arroyo’s leadership on
interfaith dialogue, citing the Philippines’ efforts at the
UN and role within the Non-Aligned Movement. Arroyo
explained she aimed to promote mutual understanding between
adherents of religious faiths, both to improve the climate
for peace in the southern Philippines and to respond to the
challenges posed by international terrorist attacks since
¶2001.

“DEFAMATION” RESOLUTIONS
————————

¶4. (SBU) Noting the Philippines’ prior support for
international bodies’ resolutions against the defamation of
religion, Leo explained that the CIRF viewed these
resolutions as a form of support for blasphemy laws. Leo
said it was important to condemn hateful speech on religious
issues, but governments often used blasphemy laws toward
repressive ends, violating the right to free speech.

¶5. (SBU) Leo said he had seen positive movement in recent
years, with a majority of nations shifting from supporting
defamation resolutions to either opposing or abstaining. He
noted that four Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
countries — Albania, Benin, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso —
had recently abstained in a vote on one such resolution. Leo
also said he understood that Pakistan’s government was
considering repealing or scaling back the scope of its
blasphemy law, and he welcomed this as a positive sign.

¶6. (SBU) Arroyo said the GRP needed to “work out” its
position on defamation resolutions. This process would
require reflection and interagency discussion, but Arroyo
said she would ensure the Philippines’ mission to the UN
would take Leo’s views into account. Leo offered to provide
any materials that the GRP might find useful as it examined
the issue.

COMMENT
——-

¶7. (SBU) Leo expressed his view of defamation resolutions
several times. Arroyo was fully engaged in the conversation
and seemed to understand his perspective. Nevertheless,
obtaining OIC observer status is one of the Philippines’ top

MANILA 00000369 002.4 OF 002

foreign policy priorities, and the GRP appears likely to
continue following the OIC’s lead on defamation resolutions.
BASSETT

   

 

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