Oct 292014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA411 2007-02-05 09:23 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
DE RUEHML #0411/01 0360923
O 050923Z FEB 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: MANILA 000299

¶1. SUMMARY: Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public
Affairs Karen Hughes visited the Philippines January 24-27 to survey
Mission’s multi-agency, multi-disciplinary public diplomacy programs
and projects. She met with a wide range of Filipinos, including
President Arroyo, adult and youth alumni of USG exchange/training
programs from across the Philippines, and poor Muslim villagers on
the terror-wracked island of Jolo. At all stops, she was greeted
warmly and enthusiastically, and her interlocutors expressed
gratitude for U.S. assistance that ranges from educational exchanges
and cultural programs, to veterans’ benefits, to development
projects to U.S. military technical support. Local and
international media coverage was extensive and uniformly positive.
Images of her visit to the Philippines can be seen at
http://philippines.usembassy.gov. While the visit provided U/S
Hughes with a ground-level view of public diplomacy efforts here in
the Philippines, she also reached out to Filipinos one-on-one, in
group events and through the media, robustly buttressing our
continuing message that our country is a staunch partner, interested
in their welfare, and committed to helping them where we can. The
warm, personal, and much publicized welcome that U/S Hughes received
from President Arroyo was a particularly meaningful statement about
where we stand in Filipino estimation following the summit of ASEAN
leaders and the state visit of the Chinese premier just days
earlier. END SUMMARY

Partnership for Peace and Prosperity

¶2. U/S Hughes’ program began on January 24 with a small, private
dinner at Malacanang Palace (reftel). Afterward, she and other
guests were invited to join President Arroyo and the Armed Forces of
the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Esperon, as they
awarded medals and promotions to the Philippine soldiers and marines
responsible for eliminating two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorist
leaders on the island of Jolo. President Arroyo’s energetic remarks
at the event urged the AFP to keep up the pressure on the
terrorists, expressed gratitude to President Bush for sending U/S
Hughes, and publicly thanked the U.S. for being the “Philippines’
strongest ally and partner.” These remarks were widely reported in
the Philippines media, and were particularly significant as they
came scant days after the state visit of the Chinese premier.

Winning Hearts and Minds: The Key Battle

¶3. On January 25, U/S Hughes traveled to the island of Jolo, the
focal point of ongoing AFP efforts to eliminate ASG and Jemaah
Islamiyah (JI) terrorists. Her visit with U.S. Joint Special
Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) and AFP personnel
underlined their cooperative effort through community relations and
development programs to deny safe haven for the terrorists and
actively encourage local support for the AFP’s combat operations.
JSOTF-P’s Military Information Support (MIST) team briefed U/S
Hughes on how their efforts — in conjunction with their AFP
partners, USAID, and State colleagues — have yielded huge dividends
on Jolo, helping residents to see that a better future for
themselves and their children is possible by rejecting extremist
ideology and terrorism. MIST plays a front line role in Mission
efforts to promote the Rewards for Justice Program. U/S Hughes
received a representative sample of MIST products – comic books,
posters, trading cards, etc. — in a book bag of the type given to
local school children.

Stability and Development: The Civilian/Military Compact
————————- ————- —————

¶4. U/S Hughes’ visit to Jolo continued with an extended stop in the
village of Maimbung, which is on the front lines of the AFP’s
efforts to end the ASG/JI reign of terror on Jolo. U/S Hughes
toured a high school connected to the Internet through USAID’s
Computer Literacy and Internet Connection (CLIC). USAID also
equipped a home economics room with sewing machines and other
livelihood skills training equipment, using an Education Awareness
Support Effort (EASE) grant to match the funds raised by local
parents. Subsequently, U/S Hughes spoke to local residents at a
JSOTF-P and AFP personnel Medical Community Action Program (MEDCAP),
praising the efforts of all involved in ending terror on Jolo. U/S
Hughes was also the guest speaker at the inauguration of a
farm-to-market road, funded by USAID, where she described the road
as “not only a highway connecting your village to ports and markets,

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but it is also your path to a brighter future.” The senior
Philippine official present, Under Secretary Virgilio Leyretana of
the Office of President, subsequently wrote to U/S Hughes saying:
“Your visit to Sulu…was historic, and a clear reaffirmation of the
commitment of the American people and government to the attainment
of peace and development in Mindanao.”

A Partnership Built on Shared Sacrifice

¶5. U/S Hughes continued her Philippines program on January 26 with a
moving event at the Manila American Memorial Cemetery attended by
World War II veterans of the Bataan Death March and the defense of
Corregidor. The Cemetery — the largest American military cemetery
outside the US — comprises 17,000 American, Filipino and other war
graves, as well as a memorial for an additional 36,000 whose remains
have never been recovered. U/S Hughes had coffee after the ceremony
with 50 US and Filipino WWII veterans, representing the Defenders of
Bataan and Corregidor, the American Legion, the Philippine Veterans
Legion, and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines. In her
remarks to them and assembled media, she said, “As the daughter of a
veteran, and with many relatives who fought in World War II, I find
it very moving to be here. It’s a reminder of the shared sacrifice
Americans and Filipinos made, standing side by side, for freedom.
We were friends yesterday, we are friends today, and we will always
be friends tomorrow.”

The Human Bridge between Nations

¶6. After a brief historical tour of the U.S. Embassy, U/S Hughes
taped an interview with “Bantay OCW,” a daily TV show aimed at
millions of Filipino expatriate workers and appearing on cable
television networks in the Americas, East Asia, Europe and the
Middle East. U/S Hughes was the first USG official to appear on this
important program. Against a backdrop of Manila bay and the U.S.
Embassy, U/S Hughes discussed US-RP partnership in the global war on
terror, in development, and her impressions of her visit to the

Touching Base with Key Partners

¶7. U/S Hughes and Ambassador had lunch with key Philippine civic
activists, all of whom are alumni of various State Department-funded
programs. International Visitor (IV) alumni were uniform in praise
of their programs, saying it had given them a wealth of useful
information and a much richer understanding of American society and
culture. This point was made with particular conviction by FY-06 IV
alumna, Grace Padaca, who – despite being disabled by a childhood
bout with polio – became first a successful investigative journalist
and then governor of Isabela province, defeating the representative
of a powerful and long-entrenched political clan. “You can’t
understand the U.S. without a first-hand, in-depth look at it,” she
said. “Everyone thinks they know America, but what they know is a
distorted image, a collection of clichs. To really understand
America, you have to go there and be immersed in it – and that’s
what the IV program does.”

¶8. Among other participants were three leaders of IVP-PHILS, which
bills itself – accurately, we believe – as the largest and most
active IV alumni organization in the world. They reported to U/S
Hughes on an event they organized, with funds from a State/ECA
alumni grant, that brought together Muslim and Christian high school
students from across Mindanao to work on projects to encourage
mutual understanding and achieve peace in that strife-torn region.

¶9. Participants also complimented USG outreach activities in the
Philippines. One event that had a particularly strong impact with
youth was the Ambassador’s highly publicized presence at the
Philippine college basketball championship game. “That was great
you took time to go to the game,” one guest said. “It showed you
really cared about our country and what matters to us.” U/S Hughes
described this as an example of the “diplomacy of deeds,” in which
understanding and respect are achieved not by what one says, but
what one does.

Discovering Shared Values through Exchanges

¶8. U/S Hughes also toured an American Corner, and met with a mixed
group of Muslim and Christian high school students from ECA’s YES
and YLP programs. The students warmed to U/S Hughes quickly and

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shared their experiences and viewpoints about the U.S. One member
of an indigenous tribe in Mindanao said that he was impressed by the
orderliness and politeness of American society, but “inspired by the
story of America,” which he sees as more ethnically diverse than the
Philippines. “America has more than one color, one religion,” he
said, and added that the problems of his tribe were small compared
to the obstacles Americans had faced and overcome. He is now trying
to organize his tribal community and tell them “We can do this. I
can do this, because I am not alone.”

¶9. A Muslim from Mindanao said that she learned that “people suffer
because of ignorance,” and because of her experience in the US she
wants to bridge the gaps between people. Citing the example of her
American host family, who invited her to attend Protestant religious
services with them, she said “I learned that I respect them despite
our religious differences.” U/S Hughes asked her and the other
participants if they were surprised to find that Americans are quite
religious. Most students promptly answered “yes.” Another Muslim
girl added that she even enjoyed the Christian services she attended
because they helped her to understand her host family’s religion.
She explained, “I like the way they sing their songs and participate
actively in the service… I was like a Christian, myself, for a
while…without giving up my [own] religion, of course.”

¶10. Another student who has a growth disorder and is less than 5
feet tall described finding a way to really connect with his
classmates in small-town Kansas. He realized that his hosts loved
American football, so he asked if he could join the team. At first
kids laughed at the very idea because, as he pointed out, “I am so
small.” But, when they saw his earnest desire to take part,
somehow, they made him the team’s student manager. He said that one
high point of the experience was telling the enormous football
players, “drop and give me 50, then run 2 laps!”

¶11. The dialogue clearly showed that ECA-funded student exchange
programs are directly changing lives and laying the groundwork for a
stronger, deeper understanding and appreciation of the U.S. by
successor generations of Filipinos. By promoting mutual
understanding and respect for diversity, these programs are a key
element in denying moral and substantive support to extremists of
all stripes in this country. As U/S Hughes said in closing the
session, “We have to wage peace together, in order to win the

Bringing It All Together

¶12. The visit ended on an informal note, with a barbecue hosted by
Ambassador for Filipino and U.S. public affairs personnel from
State, USAID, and the U.S. military. U/S Hughes thanked everyone on
the multi-agency team for ensuring that the story of America is
heard in the Philippines.

Maximum Impact at an Opportune Moment

¶13. U/S Hughes’ visit breathed additional life into a vibrant
US-Philippine partnership marked by shared values and history. At a
period in time when China’s rise as a world power and dominant
regional player is center stage, her presence reminded the
Philippines and beyond that the relationship with the U.S. is not
only relevant but also central to achieving peace and prosperity.
U/S Hughes’ combination of gravitas and personal warmth struck a
strong chord with the Filipino public, as well as the media covering
events. The impact of this was evident in the glowing press coverage
of U/S Hughes’ activities throughout her visit.

¶14. U/S Hughes did not have the opportunity to clear this message.




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