Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/03/07MANILA856.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA856 2007-03-15 10:13 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO6063
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0856/01 0741013
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 151013Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5695
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000856

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, PM, INR/EAP, AND R
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO AND J5
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP (TOOLAN/BAILEY)
JOINT STAFF/J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/CLEMMONS)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2017
TAGS: PTER MARR MASS MOPS MCAP PREL EAID RP
SUBJECT: USG AND PHILIPPINE MILITARY STAND SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER IN PEACE-BUILDING

REF: MANILA 608 AND PREVIOUS

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

¶1. (U) The top brass of the Philippine military joined U.S.
Ambassador on the southern Philippine island of Jolo for
ceremonies marking the end of “Balikatan”
(shoulder-to-shoulder), the annual set of joint military
exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines that has
occurred since 1981. Although the Field Training Exercise
portion of Balikatan-07 did not go forward, the staff
exercise portion and humanitarian projects received extensive
and positive media attention. During Balikatan-07, U.S. and
Filipino troops on Jolo conducted 12 MEDCAPS (medical and
dental treatments for poor villagers) and constructed 4
kilometers of road repairs in areas formerly controlled by
Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists.

¶2. (U) American diplomats and military officials led by
Ambassador joined a high-ranking Filipino delegation
including Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane and Armed
Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes
Esperon on Jolo on March 3 to commemorate the ending of
Balikatan-07 by cutting a ribbon for a new road in the former
Abu Sayyaf Group stronghold of Bato Bato. The joint
delegation then walked to a recently built school and
facility for medical treatments. Along the way, uniformed
school children smiled and waved handmade flags of both
nations. After the visits, townsfolk and guests gathered
for a subsequent ceremony. To open it, an Imam opened the
event with a blessing. Mayor Salip Aloy Jainal of Indanan
said: “We have a good camaraderie with the United States.”
Provincial Administrator Don Loong, representing the Governor
of Sulu, told the crowd enthusiastically: “The legacy of the
American people is not these projects alone( It is giving us
hope again, by showing us that peace is possible.” (Note:
Loong recently participated in the International Visitors
Leadership program.) The press picked up the Ambassador’s
remarks that such development projects will continue “because
the people here deserve a chance for peace.” In closing, the
town choir sang folk songs. The official party returned to
Camp Bautista for a relaxed but standing-room only lunch.

¶3. (U) Ambassador was joined on the Philippines’ side both
Sec. Ebdane and Chief of Staff Gen. Esperon, as well as the
LTG Cedo (AFP Commander of Western Mindanao Command), Sec.
Dureza of Office of the Presidential Advisor on the Peace
Process, and the Philippine Co-Chair of the Combined Joint
Taskforce Balikatan RADM Tolentino. The U.S. contingent
included the U.S. Balikatan Co-chair, MG Tom, visiting
EAP/MTS Office Director Scot Marciel, visiting OIG Senior
Inspector Malloy, in addition to other U.S. military
officials.

¶4. (C) Both Defense Secretary Ebdane and AFP Chief of Staff
Gen. Esperon remarked to Ambassador that they were
“astonished” by the warm reception given by the locals to the
American presence there. Ebdane said that he had not been to
Jolo since taking up his post and had only traveled to the
city of Jolo and never into the rural areas where they
visited.

¶5. (U) The press reported that attitudes among Filipino
Muslims in Sulu and the surrounding areas are changing for
the better. Local press headlines trumpeted: “Anti-US
sentiment waning in rebel stronghold,” and “Balikatan
exercise ends on high note.” One article in “Tempo” reported
that “soldiers are dressed in full battle gear( But the
motorcades are met with waves from bystanders and cheers and
blown kisses from children.” Defense Secretary Ebdane, a
former Director General of the Philippine National Police
(PNP), commented to the local press that he was impressed
with what he saw which was “a far cry” from the last time he
visited Sulu as a PNP officer. Balikatan’s civil-military
operations, coupled with the ongoing work of USAID and JSTOF,
appear to be succeeding in boosting development and building
trust, and thereby separating the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah
Islamiyah terrorists from the population.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:

MANILA 00000856 002 OF 002

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.
KENNEY

   

 

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