Cablegate: Call On President Arroyo

Published: Tue 8 Nov 2005 05:47 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a meeting with President Arroyo
on November 7, USAID Assistant Administrator for the
Asia Near East Bureau (AA/ANE) James R. Kunder and US
Embassy Charge d'Affaires (CDA) Paul W. Jones
highlighted how the USG's development assistance
program carried out by USAID supports Philippine
economic growth and supports the GRP's Mindanao peace
efforts. They urged further progress in combating
trafficking in persons, especially in obtaining timely
convictions of the guilty. President Arroyo promised
to highlight this urgency at a November 15 National
Security Council meeting. They congratulated the GRP
on progress in the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
Threshold Program process. They stressed the
importance of continued GRP efforts against Avian
Influenza. The CDA expressed appreciation to the GRP
for its handling in accordance with the Visiting Forces
Agreement of the recent allegations of rape by US
Marines. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Visiting AA/ANE Kunder and CDA Jones paid a
courtesy call on President Arroyo at Malacanang Palace
on November 7. Also present from the GRP were
Philippine Ambassador to the US Albert del Rosario and
Department of Foreign Affairs American Office Executive
Director Ruth M. Prado. USAID Mission Director Jon
Lindborg, USAID Deputy Director Frank Donovan, and
AA/ANE Special Assistant Allyson Stroschein joined from
the USG.
Shared Commitments
3. (SBU) President Arroyo welcomed AA/ANE Kunder and
thanked him for his support. AA/ANE Kunder noted that
the Philippines is the second largest recipient country
(after Indonesia) of USG development assistance in East
Asia and that he hoped his trip would highlight our
development partnership, which supports shared
commitments to democracy, free markets, and regional
and global security. President Arroyo commented that
USAID assistance was particularly supportive of the
GRP's peace process in Mindanao, and expressed the
GRP's appreciation and thanks. AA/ANE Kunder
emphasized that 60 pct of USAID resources in the
Philippines are allocated to Mindanao programs.
4. (SBU) President Arroyo reiterated that peace
efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
remained a major GRP focus. She said that the GRP had
reached agreement with the MILF on "ancestral domain"
and expressed a hope of expediting the peace process by
carrying out this agreement on ancestral domain in such
a way that would also satisfy the concerns of the
Christians in Mindanao. AA/ANE Kunder advised that, in
the event of a peace agreement, US development
assistance programs that had worked so well with the
Moro National Liberation Front could be provided to the
MILF. AA/ANE Kunder noted his upcoming visit to
Mindanao with the CDA, which would include visits to
completed infrastructure projects, such as roll-on,
roll-off port facilities. He added that opportunities
for greater economic growth help fight the war on
terrorism. President Arroyo reiterated the GRP's
support for the war against terrorism.
Greater GRP Focus on Combating Trafficking in Persons
--------------------------------------------- --------
5. (SBU) AA/ANE Kunder highlighted the worldwide
problem of trafficking in persons (TIP), the importance
of greater GRP efforts to combat TIP in the
Philippines, and USAID's commitment to assist the GRP
in these efforts. President Arroyo expressed agreement
as well as appreciation for USG technical assistance.
AA/ANE Kunder and CDA emphasized strongly the
importance of convicting traffickers under the 2003
anti-trafficking law. President Arroyo concurred that
it was urgent to speed up the prosecution of cases
against traffickers.
6. (SBU) CDA Jones advised President Arroyo of the
visit in early December of G/TIP's Ambassador Miller.
President Arroyo immediately instructed her staff to
put TIP on the agenda at the next National Security
Council meeting, on November 15, in order to engage
high-level GRP officials on the need for further anti-
TIP actions. President Arroyo commented that one of
her anti-TIP efforts is to revamp the Philippine
Retirement Authority, since its activities to invite
people to retire in the Philippines may have encouraged
trafficking activity.
GRP Progressing Under MCA Threshold Program Process
--------------------------------------------- ------
7. (SBU) AA/ANE Kunder acknowledged the GRP's
achievement in obtaining Concept Paper approval under
the Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Program, and
encouraged the GRP to continue working with USAID on
developing a Threshold Country Plan. President Arroyo
expressed hope that these efforts would ultimately
result in approval of MCA Threshold Program funding for
the Philippines.
For Now AI-Free, Philippines Must Be Alert and Prepared
--------------------------------------------- ----------
8. (SBU) 5AA/ANE Kunder congratulated the GRP on its
efforts to prepare for and prevent the outbreak of
Avian Influenza (AI), but urged the President to remain
vigilant. President Arroyo assured him and CDA that
the GRP was already working with local veterinarians,
investing in laboratory facilities, taking disinfection
precautions as passengers arrive at airports and ports,
and, as poultry deaths are reported, testing
immediately. AA/ANE Kunder cited President Bush's
personal interest in AI preparedness, especially in
this region. President Arroyo noted her own personal
concern with AI, given the disastrous effects on
travel, commerce, and human lives if an endemic
9. (SBU) CDA Jones thanked the President for her
leadership in tackling AI preparedness in the
Philippines and stressed the importance for the GRP to
coordinate efforts between the Departments of Health
and Agriculture and to ensure that GRP funds allocated
for AI preparedness did in fact flow to agreed GRP
priority actions. President Arroyo advised that,
similar to the GRP's successful efforts to prepare for
SARS, the GRP had designated one Department to take the
lead. In the case of SARS, it was the Department of
Health; with AI, the Department of Agriculture, since
it is in the first line of defense by identifying and
eradicating any fowl infected with the disease.
Rape Allegations Against US Marines
10. (SBU) CDA Jones expressed appreciation for GRP
efforts to ensure that actions following recent rape
allegations against six US Marines are carried out in
accordance with the terms of the US/RP Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA) and that justice is served. CDA
pledged USG's full cooperation under the VFA.
Press Event
11. (SBU) Following the meeting, AA/ANE Kunder appeared
before the Malacanang Press Corps to summarize the
discussion, and also responded to questions on the
Millennium Challenge Account and on combating
trafficking in persons. He confirmed that lack of
progress on TIP could affect USG assistance levels.
12. (U) AA/ANE Kunder did not have an opportunity to
review this cable.
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