Oct 292014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MANILA2324.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2324
2009-11-05 09:15
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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O 050915Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5679
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002324

SIPDIS

FOR THE SECRETARY FROM THE AMBASSADOR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS EAID SCUL KDEM RP
SUBJECT: YOUR VISIT TO THE PHILIPPINES

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

¶1. (C) Madam Secretary: Welcome to Manila; Filipinos are
thrilled to have you visit. The Philippines is a vibrant and
youthful nation, replete with young, outward-looking people
concerned about global issues, and eager to apply the values
that American democracy enshrines to change their own society
for the better. As the first U.S. Secretary of State to
visit in seven years, you have a unique opportunity to engage
with and excite a new generation of Filipinos, people who
admire much about the U.S. and have longed for greater U.S.
interaction with the Philippines and ASEAN. Christian and
Muslim Filipinos alike hope to work cooperatively with the
United States, and your visit will reassure them that we are
equally enthusiastic about continuing our long tradition of
partnership with all segments of Filipino society. And as
Filipinos move toward important national elections next May,
your message of nonpartisan support for democracy will help
assure the public that we strongly encourage a free, fair,
and transparent election process that can bring a new
generation of leaders to help the Philippines surmount its
challenges – poverty, insurgency, terrorism, and human rights
concerns.

CREATING A NEW GENERATION OF SUPPORT
————————————

¶2. (C) The United States and the Philippines have a
longstanding and deep relationship based on nearly 50 years
of direct U.S. administration; a Philippines government
modeled on our own; broad economic ties; and an extensive
interchange of people. Many here admire the U.S. and its
values, although some — including in the Manila elite and
the country’s Muslim minority — are wary of us and
reflexively seek to show the Philippines is not dependent on
the United States. Virtually all are eager to work with us
and gratefully welcome a reciprocal expression of the respect
and appreciation that Filipinos so often demonstrate for the
United States.

¶3. (C) The Philippines is literally a young and vibrant
nation — high population growth has created a large segment
of under-25 youth with an increasingly global and
technologically savvy outlook, but who often look outside the
Philippines to seek a brighter economic future and a more
just government and society. Your town hall event with
university students across the Philippines is a key
opportunity to engage the country’s most energetic force for
change on an array of critical concerns: sustainable
development, renewable energy, and improved respect for human
rights, including trafficking in persons, a critical problem
here. A message of renewed U.S. engagement with Asia and
ASEAN will help reinforce the long ties of history and family
that link our nations.

OVERCOMING WARINESS ON MILITARY TIES
————————————

¶4. (SBU) You will arrive in a country shaken up by a series
of storms that devastated portions of Manila and the
Philippines’ northernmost regions. We rapidly mobilized our
military — both our small number of in-country forces and
other assets en route for a bilateral exercise — to rescue
stranded people; deliver life-saving assistance to isolated
areas; provide medical treatment to the injured; and reopen
vital transport links. We have received an outpouring of
thanks in return.

¶5. (C) Although most Filipinos deeply appreciate the
life-saving assistance provided by our uniformed
servicemembers and USAID officials, some leading figures
question the basis for our broad military cooperation. The
Philippine Senate recently passed a resolution calling for
the renegotiation of our Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA); the
bill’s principal sponsor wrongly claimed that the U.S.
intended to reestablish military bases in the Philippines,
and that our forces engage in combat operations. We have
avoided wrangling publicly with detractors of the VFA,
instead explaining that our approximately 600 Joint Special
Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) soldiers are
here at the invitation of the Philippine government, and they
do not engage in combat.

¶6. (C) JSOTF-P’s role is to assist the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) in its fight against the Abu Sayyaf Group
(ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist organizations, both
of which are active in the southern Philippines. The AFP has
proven a staunch ally in counterterrorism, engaging
terrorists even at the cost of heavy casualties. Tragically,

MANILA 00002324 002 OF 003

two U.S. soldiers and one of their Filipino counterparts died
on Jolo island on September 29. They were engaged in a
civil-military operation — helping to build a school — when
their vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device buried
in the road.

PROMOTING ELECTION REFORMS
————————–

¶7. (C) You will arrive in the early phase of the election
season; Filipinos — including millions of newly-registered
first-time voters — will choose their next President and
Congress in May 2010. Although Filipinos are justifiably
proud of their democratic ideals, the Philippines remains in
some ways a nascent democracy. The country has experienced
only three presidential elections since the end of Ferdinand
Marcos’ autocratic rule, and these have been tarnished by
allegations of vote-buying and other irregularities, as well
as election violence. There is also domestic anxiety over the
introduction of automated vote tabulation in the upcoming
election.

¶8. (C) Last year’s U.S. elections had a profound impact in
the Philippines, demonstrating again that a geographically
and socially diverse nation could carry out a free, fair and
transparent vote, provide credible results rapidly, and
result in a losing candidate gracefully conceding to the
victor — while pledging to work constructively for the
national good. Given that the Philippines spent decades
under American administration, our influence here remains
very high, and our active support for a more unbiased and
transparent election process will help buoy democracy
activists. Since many candidates in the coming election will
present themselves as having special ties to the U.S.
government, we also stress that we are strictly neutral and
prepared to work with whomever the Filipino people choose as
their next leader.

PROMOTING PEACE
—————

¶9. (C) The approaching Philippine elections made many doubt
we would see further progress in the peace process between
the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
an armed secessionist group on the southern island of
Mindanao. But President Arroyo told President Obama during
her July visit to Washington that she would continue to seek
peace with the MILF, and she has made meaningful progress in
recent weeks. A ceasefire remains in place, and GRP and MILF
negotiators have agreed on modalities to establish an
International Contact Group and to provide further protection
for civilians in conflict areas.

¶10. (C) One of the most useful messages you can deliver is
that we strongly support this peace process and hope it will
continue in the run-up to the election and under the next
administration. Our support comes not just in the form of
diplomatic encouragement, but also in the form of foreign
assistance funds from State, USAID, USDA, and DOD that we
devote to development in the troubled southern Philippines
region. (These totaled over 80 million USD in FY 2009.)

AN ALLY ON NONPROLIFERATION
—————————

¶11. (C) When you meet with President Arroyo, you could
advance our nonproliferation interests by highlighting our
global concerns. Foreign Secretary Romulo has eagerly
engaged with us on our agenda for the 2010 Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, which the
Philippines will chair. Your reinforcing the importance of
nonproliferation may encourage GRP policymakers to seek
further information on the relevant technical matters and to
resist pressure they may encounter from Iran or other
countries hoping to divert international attention from their
nuclear programs.

CLIMATE CHANGE/RENEWABLE ENERGY
——————————-

¶12. (C) The recent storms that devastated areas of the
Philippines have focused attention here on the perils
associated with climate change, and you will find President
Arroyo and other interlocutors energized and eager to hear of
U.S. leadership on this issue. The Philippines has played a
leading role in regional efforts, with the legislature in
October passing a bill to create a cabinet-level body for
interagency coordination on climate change. In 2008, the
Philippines enacted a renewable energy law, providing a mix
of incentives and subsidies which are attracting investment

MANILA 00002324 003 OF 003

in areas such as wind, solar, and ocean energy. The
Philippines is the top regional producer of wind power, and
second in the world in geothermal energy production.

SALUTING MISSION STAFF
———————-

¶13. (SBU) Your “meet and greet” with Mission staff is an
opportunity to highlight their exceptional service to others,
including U.S. veterans resident in the Philippines; and
their exceptional commitment, despite the fact that virtually
all have been affected, directly or indirectly, by flooding
or storm-related damage in recent weeks.

¶14. (U) We welcome you to the Philippines. We will do
everything we can to work with your team from Washington to
make your visit a success.
KENNEY

   

 

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