Oct 292014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/11/07MANILA3775.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3775
2007-11-27 08:06
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO6298
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3775/01 3310806
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270806Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8998
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003775

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RP BM
SUBJECT: UNANIMOUS PRAISE FOR PRESIDENT’S OUTSPOKEN BURMA STANCE AT ASEAN

REF: MANILA 3647 AND PREVIOUS

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: President Arroyo took a bold stance on Burma
at the ASEAN Summit in Singapore, plainly warning that the
Philippine Congress would likely not ratify the ASEAN Charter
if Burma did not release Aung San Suu Kyi and other political
prisoners, and pursue rapid democratic reform. Arroyo
returned to the Philippines to widespread praise from across
the political spectrum, and from a media that rarely extols
her policy actions. Reflecting broad international support
for her position, President Arroyo was also commended by a
European Union parliamentary delegation visiting the country,
whose chair called the Philippines a “pillar of democracy” in
Southeast Asia. Department of Foreign Affairs officials
stressed that President Arroyo’s comments underscore her
determination that the Philippine government will maintain
strong public pressure for progress toward democracy in
Burma, a stance that has been bolstered by frequent
consultations and exchanges with senior USG officials over
the past year. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (U) At the 13th Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) Summit in Singapore, November 18-22, the Philippines
proved to be the most outspoken critic of Burma among the 10
member nations of ASEAN. While the 10 member nations signed
the ASEAN Charter as expected, President Arroyo pointed out
the regime’s human rights abuses and warned that unless Burma
released Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, the
Philippine Congress “would have extreme difficulty in
ratifying the ASEAN Charter.” In a separate statement,
President Arroyo, who received a private briefing by United
Nations special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, after the
cancellation of his briefing to ASEAN leaders, stressed that
the Philippines remained “concerned that the forces of
authoritarianism still move rather slowly toward democracy in
Myanmar.”

¶3. (SBU) Returning to the Philippines early due to an
impending typhoon, the President was met with rare universal
praise for her stance on Burma. Even Senate Minority Leader
Aquilino Pimentel, possibly President Arroyo’s staunchest
critic in the Senate, praised and supported her “unexpected
ultimatum” to Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein. He echoed
the President’s warning, stating that the “Senate would find
it hard to ratify the ASEAN Charter unless democracy is
restored and Aung Sang is freed.” Similarly, Davao City
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a maverick politician known for his
independent streak, professed “admiration” for the
President’s courage. “Our President is the only one brave
enough, the others in the ASEAN are afraid of the Generals of
Burma,” he was quoted as saying. Reflecting international
support for her position, President Arroyo was also commended
by a European Union parliamentary delegation visiting the
country, whose chair, Hartmut Nassauer, called the
Philippines a “pillar of democracy” in Southeast Asia.

¶4. (U) Editorials in major newspapers were unusually
complimentary. One editorial praised her for showing
“ASEAN’s hypocrisy and double talk on Burma,” while another
declared that her “frank and very public criticism of Burma
was probably unprecedented, but certainly well-deserved.”
Philippine Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye told the media that
with the signing of the ASEAN Charter, President Arroyo had
achieved her goals at the Summit. He added that the
President had made a “significant contribution” in the
crafting of the Charter while in Cebu, Philippines, site of
the 12th ASEAN Summit.

¶5. (C) Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Asia and Pacific
Affairs Executive Director Hellen Barber characterized
President Arroyo’s discussion with Burmese Prime Minister
Thein Sein as her primary event in Singapore. President
Arroyo stressed in that meeting that the release of political
prisoners was of paramount importance, to which Sein
responded that the Burmese government was serious about
making progress, but “needed time.” DFA ASEAN Affairs
Executive Director Benito Valeriano said that the Philippines
had too much at stake to fail in ratifying the charter.
Valeriano noted that the Philippine government could use the
time it takes to ratify the charter to place even greater
pressure on Burma. He said the Congress would have to
convene a committee and hold hearings and then wait for “the
right political climate” to vote on ratification. Valeriano
predicted a six-month to one-year period in which Arroyo
could ratchet up the pressure on Burma before Senate
ratification came to a vote.

MANILA 00003775 002 OF 002

¶6. (C) COMMENT: President Arroyo continues to take a
leadership role on Burma in ASEAN even after the Philippine
hand-off as ASEAN chair to Singapore. Philippine instincts
to press for democratic change in Burma have been
significantly bolstered by external reinforcement, including
Arroyo’s participation in the Secretary’s women’s leaders
event at UNGA, the Deputy Secretary’s discussions with
Foreign Secretary Romulo, EAP discussions with Philippine
officials in Manila and Washington, and post’s interventions
at all levels throughout the most current crisis. The
confluence of these factors helps explain why President
Arroyo is well prepared to stand alone on Burma even in the
face of ASEAN’s emphasis on harmony and its time-honored rule
of non-interference in other countries affairs.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
KENNEY

   

 

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