A visual interactive timeline of significant Philippines-related diplomatic cables released online by whistleblower group WikiLeaks.
Created by jojomalig on Sep 1, 2011
Last updated: 09/22/11 at 01:49 PM
Tags: wikileaks philippines
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago asks the Senate to investigate recent information released by online whistleblower group WikiLeaks, which revealed that former President Fidel Ramos received P5 million from Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi for his 1992 presidential campaign.
Santiago, who claims Ramos cheated her in the polls, filed a resolution calling on the Senate electoral reform and Blue Ribbon Committees to conduct a probe on the matter.
Santiago suspects the money Ramos got from Gaddafi helped him cheat during the elections.
"This latest revelation from WikiLeaks is sufficient proof that Ramos is a thief," the senator told reporters in briefing. "He stole the elections not only from me but also the Filipino people."
Santiago also pointed out that receiving campaign money from any foreign source, directly or indirectly, is illegal.
Former Makati Business Club executive director Bill Luz has urged the Aquino administration to look into the alleged corruption involving former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo that was revealed in a US cable released by whistleblower group WikiLeaks.
The cable, classified "Confidential" by US embassy Economic Counselor Robert Ludan and sent June 9, 2005 by then US Chargé d'Affaires Joseph Mussomeli, disclosed talks with Luz, Washington Sycip of SGV, and Francis Chua of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The memo revealed the feelings of the businessmen about the supposed corruption of the Arroyo administration.
It disclosed the alleged involvement of the former First Gentleman in smuggling and illegal gambling syndicates.
The cable, quoting Sycip, said former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reportedly approved of her husband's activities.
Luz admitted that he often talked to the US embassy's economic counselor because it was part of his job.
"We meet on many occasions, actually, and talks about many things including corruption and its impact on investments."
He said he only relayed to the US embassy the sentiments of the Makati Business Club that the Arroyo administration thoroughly investigate reported corruption in government.
"If they're false, we need to clear the air and the country needs to move forward. If they're true then the perpetrators need to be formally brought to justice."
This, however, was not done, Luz said.
Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo branded the WikiLeaks report about him as “baseless and downright malicious.”
He noted, however, that the supposed attacks are sounding to be more like a “broken record,” as he hit the Aquino administration for overstating the issues.
“I was never involved in jueteng or smuggling. I never got involved in jueteng because I know that was what brought former [President Joseph] Estrada down. I don’t even know how to play jueteng. As to smuggling, why would I do that?” he asked.
He said his critics should remember that the bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue consistently met their targets during his wife’s term.
“It is very disheartening that whenever the economy or the popularity of President Aquino goes down, like the recent disappointing GDP rate, it is almost always followed by an Arroyo-bashing episode based on recycled issues,” he stressed.
He said the administration and the Senate should just focus on improving the lives of Filipinos “instead of engaging in never-ending persecution and character assassination.”
Malacanang downplayed a secret cable recently issued by anti-secrecy website Wikileaks, supposedly quoting a former United States envoy versus President Benigno Aquino III.
In an interview with dzRB, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said former US ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney’s alleged comments that Aquino was “diffident and unassertive” does not speak the truth.
“We don’t feel the need to answer. You can ask anybody that the assessment is wrong,” Valte said.
In fact, Malacanang will not anymore push for an official or diplomatic action on the matter, she said.
Kenney filed the series of unflattering cables after then senator Aquino had declared his presidential candidacy and during the election campaign, the website said.
Whistleblower site Wikileaks announces that it has posted online all 251,287 diplomatic cables in its possession.
The new memos include thousands of previously unpublished secret and confidential cables on the Philippines.
The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions.
-15, 652 secret
- 133,887 unclassified
"This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes," WikiLeaks says.
Former US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney said she cried at the funeral of former President Corazon Aquino, just a day after she recieved flak for allegedly badmouthing the former leader in an embassy cable published by WikiLeaks.
Kenney, now US envoy to Thailand, did not deny sending the cable.
"I thought Pres Cory had courage and charisma. And I cried at her funeral," she said on microblogging website Twitter.
The US diplomat also expressed dismay at criticisms levelled against her by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario over the contents of the leaked cable.
"[I] don't like such words fm a friend like DFA Sec del Rosario. But he was my first Filipino friend so I won't speak against him," she said.
"Haven't spoken to him recently but I respect DFA Secretary del Rosario and consider him a friend," Kenney added in a separate tweet.
"An encrypted WikiLeaks file containing 251,000 unredacted U.S. State Department cables is now widely available online, along with the passphrase to open it. The release of the documents in raw form, including the names of U.S. informants around the globe, has raised concerns that dozens of people could now be in danger.
The 1.73-GB file and passphrase were published Thursday on Cryptome, a competing secret-spilling site, after news broke over the last week that the file had been circulating on the internet unnoticed for several months."
Agence France-Presse reports:
"WikiLeaks released a mysterious encrypted file on Wednesday after telling its followers on Twitter to stand by for 'an important announcement.'"
"WikiLeaks did not identify the contents of the 571 megabyte file and it could not be opened without a decryption key, which the anti-secrecy website said would be released 'at the appropriate moment.'"
"In July of last year, WikiLeaks posted what it called an 'insurance file,' which was also encrypted."
Whistleblower group WikiLeaks on August 25, 2011 released more than 3,000 diplomatic cables on the Philippines that were sent by the US embassy in Manila and other diplomatic posts.
The cables are the largest batch so far.
WikiLeaks has vowed to release more than 35,000 unpublished cables from US diplomatic missions worldwide.
Most of the 3,071 new documents on the Philippines were tagged "unclassified/for official use only" and were coursed through SIPDIS, the secret data distribution network used by the US Department of Defense and the State Department.
Many of the memos carried the advisory, "This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please protect accordingly."
They show US diplomatic officials' analysis and interest on current events in the Philippines, as well as Manila's views on international concerns.
Whistleblower group WikiLeaks on August 24, 2011 published 33 new cables from the US embassy in Manila.
The contents of the leaked embassy cables ranged from terrorism to the Philippine government's stand on Iran and Cuba.
All of the documents released Wednesday were tagged "unclassified/for official use only." It means that people without security clearances from the US government may be allowed to view the documents.
All of the cables were coursed through SIPDIS, the secret data distribution network used by the US Department of Defense and the State Department.
Malacañang has refused to make any comment on the latest diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace is not making a comment on supposed internal communication between governments, especially on something that neither governments, the US nor China, have validated. She said for the Palace, the views of China on former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are a "non-issue."
A leaked cable from the US Department of State revealed China's views on the Philippines and the government of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo back in 2007.
A cable sent from the US Embassy in Beijing, dated March 5, 2007, showed discussions between Eric John, then US Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP), and two senior Chinese diplomats regarding Southeast Asia.
China saw then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a "good leader," saying that she has shown "she is in control."
Top Australian diplomats saw their country's Asian neighbors in a bad light, with the Philippines being labeled as a "basket case," Australia's The Age newspaper revealed on Wednesday.
A leaked diplomatic cable of secret talks between Australian and US officials, released to The Age by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, revealed that Australian Foreign Affairs deputy secretary David Richie warned their nation faced a "troubled neighborhood."
Richie cited "an increase in illegal immigration from Indonesia … continuing political instability in Thailand; the 'basket case' of the Philippines; the continuing 'burden' of providing security and development assistance to East Timor; problems of bad governance in many of the Pacific Island states," the newspaper revealed.
The secret political-military discussions between the two countries were held in Canberra in October 2008.
A total of 1,796 diplomatic cables from the United States embassy in Manila are part of more than 251,000 documents leaked by the website WikiLeaks November 28, 2010.
The leaked memos are part of a release that Julian Assange, the chief of the whistleblower website, described as a "diplomatic history of the United States" that would cover "every major issue" as governments braced for damaging revelations.
"The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret," WikiLeaks stated in its website.
Former presidential candidate Gibert "Gibo" Teodoro saw then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a liability in his campaign, a confidential cable released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said.
Cable 10MANILA60, written and sent January 13, 2010 to the State Department purportedly by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, said Teodoro welcomed Arroyo's non-involvement in his campaign.
"Teodoro voiced relief that Arroyo was not significantly involved in his efforts, as he recognized her unpopularity with most voters made her a liability," the memo said.
"Teodoro said President Arroyo had a limited role in his campaign. She was more focused on her own run for the House of Representatives, although she occasionally spoke with his campaign advisors," it added.
"Teodoro also assessed that Philippine Secretary of National Defense Norberto Gonzales was doing a poor job of running the Department of National Defense, which Teodoro himself formerly headed," it said.
The 2,000-strong private army of a powerful clan suspected of carrying out the Philippines' worst political massacre was better armed than the military and police, leaked US embassy cables showed.
The cables from late 2009, released by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, described the reach of the feared Ampatuan clan in the southern region of Mindanao and said it had authorities on the run.
Key members of the clan and its private army are now being tried for the murder of 57 people in Mindanao in 2009 but many of the accused are still at large, making witnesses reluctant to come forward.
"We estimate that the Ampatuan clan maintains a private army of up to 2,000 men -- who are often better armed and equipped than their (police) and (military) counterparts," an embassy cable said.
"Government officials were astonished by the size of the arms caches and the power of the weaponry" that was later recovered from the Ampatuans, another cable said.
Former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney briefed the US State Department on boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao's "friendship" with actress Krista Ranillo in connection with his run for Congress last year, a confidential diplomatic cable published by antisecrecy group WikiLeaks said.
Cable 09MANILA2490, dated December 2, 2009 and sent purportedly by Kenney, also tackled in passing Pacquiao's chances of winning a seat in Congress based purely on his popularity.
"Riding a wave of popular enthusiasm, star boxer Manny Pacquiao has registered to run for Congress in the southern province of Sarangani," said the cable, which primarily discussed the chances of presidential aspirants in the 2010 elections.
The memo also cited the boxer's chances for election amid the Ranillo affair scandal that was brewing at that time.
"It is unclear whether widespread speculation about his friendship with actress Krista Ranillo, which has rankled Pacquiao's wife, will hinder the boxer's prospects for election," the cable said.
It also mentioned Pacquiao's loss in his previous congressional bid.
"Pacquiao's previous run for a Congressional seat from General Santos City ended in a rare defeat for the boxing champ, as he lost out to diminutive, politically savvy Darlene Antonino-Custodio, deputy minority leader in the House of Representatives."
The cable said the loss could have prompted Pacquiao to try his luck in a more rural area. "The move to more rural Sarangani could boost Pacquiao's chances for victory."
The boxer handily won the Sarangani congressional race in the 2010 elections.
US President Barack Obama designates Harry K. Thomas, Jr. as America's new top envoy to Manila
Former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney was opposed to National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales being appointed as defense secretary because he was seen as trouble for the Philippine government, according to a confidential diplomatic cable published Friday by whistleblower group WikiLeaks.
Cable 09MANILA2408 dated November 18, 2009 had Kenney describing Gonzales as "mercurial," "inconsistent," and "prone to shooting from the hip."
"While his term as SND (secretary of national defense) will be fairly brief, it has the potential to be problematic," said the cable sent by Kenney to the US State Department.
Gonzales replaced Gilbert Teodoro, who resigned from the post to focus on his presidential campaign.
The US embassy memo cited the criticism Gonzales received in March 2009 when he proposed that a transitional government be formed to carry out constitutional changes, with membership drawn from the executive branch, judiciary, churches, and civil society.
"He suggested that this government be headed by former President Joseph Estrada, who was forced out of the presidential palace in a 2001 uprising and then convicted on corruption charges, or Mike Velarde, the leader of the Catholic Charismatic group El Shaddai Movement," it said.
Sen. Manny Villar had a low regard for his running mate, fellow senator Loren Legarda, but accepted her as his vice-presidential bet because many Filipino voters thought she was pretty, a US embassy cable published by whistleblower group WikiLeaks alleges.
The cable, which was marked "Confidential", was allegedly written by then US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney on Nov. 3, 2009, a few days after a private breakfast between Kenney and Villar on October 28.
In the cable, Kenney said Villar had criticized his opponents as "inexperienced, beholden to hidden campaign financiers, or simply phony."
The Nacionalista Party standard-bearer also allegedly dismissed Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero and then Vice-President Noli de Castro as possible running mates in the election.
The cable said Villar dismissed Escudero because "his staff did not gel with [him]."
[Photo by Louie D/TheCoffee, Creative Commons]
A US embassy cable said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front looks up to Washington to help end the decades-long fighting in Mindanao.
The Wikileaks cable, dated October 19, 2010, revealed that then US chargé d'affaires Leslie Bassett and other US embassy officials met MILF leader Murad Ebrahim, vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar, other high-ranking officials, and commanders of the rebel group at the heavily-guarded Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last February 19, 2009.
Bassett was accompanied by US Agency for International Development (USAID) acting mission director Elzadia Washington, defense attaché Col. Tony Senci, and political officer Michael Pignatello, according to the confidential cable sent by then US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenny.
Kenney quoted Ebrahim as having said that "the US is the only country we feel can push peaceful resolution of the (Mindanao) conflict."
MILF rebels met the US embassy officials with an honor guard in the military camp, which can only be reached through a poorly maintained dirt trail off a main road just north of Cotabato City, the report said.
"Men young and old in Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) camouflage uniforms stood at intervals in formation on the two kilometer stretch from the main road to the camp's Bangsamoro Development Agency office, with guns and rocket launchers at their sides," the cable added.
Murad called the Americans the "friends of the Bangsamoro," and thanked them for supporting the peace process, "embodied in exchanges of letters during the past six years with US officials."
US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, in cable 09MANILA1414, calls the dying former President Corazon Aquino a "weak" and "tarnished" leader and a "partial icon of morality."
The cable says, "Once allied with President Arroyo, Aquino asked Arroyo to make the 'supreme sacrifice' of resigning following Arroyo's 2004 'Hello Garci' election fraud controversy and subsequent impeachment moves against her in the House of Representatives. Aquino has since supported civil society protests against President Arroyo (reftel), including efforts to block constitutional revisions that critics fear could perpetuate President Arroyo's hold on power after her term expires in 2010. However, Aquino's credibility as a moral crusader was tarnished when she was seen with disgraced former President Estrada in protest movements against President Arroyo -- even after she supported then-Vice President Arroyo's 2001 successful 'second people power' revolt which ousted President Estrada. Her falling out with the Arroyo administration continued after President Arroyo's move to distribute Hacienda Luisita, the huge Aquino-Cojuangco sugar estate in Tarlac, to farm workers under the government's agrarian reform program."
[US Department of Defense photo, Wikimedia Commons]
Former US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney threw everything but the kitchen sink at Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and some senators in 2008 after the lawmakers scolded a group of foreign lobbyists, according to a US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks.
Cable 08MANILA1417, sent by Kenney to the US Department of State June 13, 2008, accused Enrile of having "ulterior motives" for having "raked over the coals" several officials of the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines over the lobby group's opposition to reforms in the power sector.
In a letter to Malacañang dated May 27, 2008, the group urged the government against proposed amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
The letter prompted the Senate to summon the foreign business group, with the cable saying Enrile "decried the 'intervention' of foreigners into the policymaking of the government."
"Enrile labeled foreign investors 'carpetbaggers, predators, and buccaneers' and demanded that they appear in the Senate to explain themselves," it added.
During the Senate hearing, Enrile accused the foreign chambers of failing to respect the Philippines' constitutional system.
Kenney quoted Enrile as having have shouted at the Joint Foreign Chambers officials, "You wanted to make a profit. Because you are forcing the government to sell [its generation and transmission assets] for a song. My goodness, get out of this country if you can't live with us. You're guests in this country."
Kenney links Enrile to smuggling
Without naming sources, the US envoy said "a few commentators have gone so far as to suggest that there may have been ulterior motives behind the show at the Senate."
The cable linked Enrile's outburst to the Joint Foreign Chambers' talks earlier in the year with smuggling.
"Some analysts suggest that the Chambers' anti-smuggling efforts may have incited Enrile's reaction since representatives of the Foreign Chambers last month discussed smuggling with Enrile's son-in-law, who runs an auto import operation operating in Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port and is suspected of involvement in smuggling," it said.
[Philippine Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. US Embassy photo, Wikimedia Commons]
Corruption allegations that rocked the Arroyo presidency dealt serious blows to China's growing trade and economic influence in the Philippines, according to several US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.
Cable 08MANILA998 titled "Limits of Chinese Soft Power in the Philippines" said China's "soft-power diplomacy" stumbled in the Philippines under a barrage of corruption allegations and scandal investigations that hounded the Arroyo administration.
"China's use of soft power in the Philippines has given it another bruising lesson in the role of a free press and political opposition in a democracy. The current problems are likely a temporary setback for China and the Philippines, as bilateral trade and policy ties continue to rise in concert with the growth in China's economy and influence," said the embassy cable dated April 28, 2008 sent by then US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.
It cited the botched $329-million ZTE-National Broadband Network deal that implicated a number of senior government officials, as well Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.
"President Arroyo’s statement that the world would not forgive another popular revolt, while self-serving, carried a fundamental truth. Another people power revolution would make a habit of changing presidents between elections, through constitutionally-questionable means, with negative implications for political and economic stability, including foreign investment that the Philippines needs to sustain current economic growth.”
[Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo talks to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a meeting in the Pentagon, June 24, 2008. Photo by the US Department of Defense, Wikimedia Commons]
The US embassy expected money to change hands in Philippine Congress before it granted a franchise to a consortium in 2007 to operate the Philippine National Transmission Company (TransCo).
Cable 07MANILA3966, which was allegedly sent by the US Ambassador Kristie Kenney to the State Department and the Department of Treasury, said the TransCo project was hounded by corruption allegations, like "any major privatization in the Philippines."
"It is unlikely that we will ever know whether collusion took place in this bidding, or whether there were other irregularities," it said. "There is a consensus among Filipinos that Congress will get its share when the franchise comes before it."
A confidential cable from the United States embassy in London revealed the possible illicit smuggling of radioactive material in the Philippines in 2007.
The cable revealed that an unidentified male called the US Foreign Service National Investigator (FSNI) unit on November 20, 2007 and revealed he had information about the "possible sale of uranium that formerly belonged to the US."
"The FSNI unit received a phone call from subject, xxxxxx, stating he had worked with divers in the Philippines previously and was recently contacted by them with information that they had found 5-6 Uranim 'bricks' at the sight (sic) of an underwater wreck," the cable said.
It said the caller's contacts expressed a desire to sell the radioactive material for profit.
Radioactive material in a container destined for Indonesia sent alarm bells ringing at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) in 2007, a US embassy cable released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said.
Cable 07MANILA3619 dated November 8, 2007 and purportedly signed by then US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) reported to the embassy the detection of radioactive material at the terminal on October 8, 2007.
"The MICT Central Alarm Station operator was alerted to a high gamma ray reading in an outbound container of scrap metal destined for Indonesia," the memo said.
Inspection of the container the following day confirmed the presence of a Cesium-137 (Cs-137) source.
Radiation readings from the front left side of the container showed something inside it was emitting 50 microsieverts per hour (uSv/hr) while and the front right side of the container showed readings of 23 uSV/hr.
The radiation levels, however, remained far from extremely dangerous, as it will take a dose of about 500,000 to 1 million before someone falls ill from radiation sickness.
"The container of loose scrap metals and compact block of scrap was opened on October 16, 2007; after two days of stripping the container, the team located and isolated the Cs-137 source in a metal bolt," the cable said.
"The source was brought to PNRI to be stored at the radioactive waste facility. The Cs-137 source did not present any threat to the public, and the detection of the material shows that the Megaports Initiative equipment is functioning correctly," said the cable, which did not specify where the Cs-137 source came from.
Malaysia has shown interest in expanding its influence in Mindanao and cashing in on the region by acting as a facilitator in peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), several US embassy cables published online by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks have revealed.
US Ambassador to Malaysia Ambassador Christopher J. LaFleur made one such observation in secret cable 07KUALALUMPUR1234 dated August 2, 2007, wherein he discussed the results of his meeting with then peace talks facilitator Othman Abdul Razak.
The cable, which was classified secret, said Othman complained about America's development projects in impoverished communities in Mindanao.
"Othman's expressed unease with our development assistance appears to reflect a degree of Malaysian wariness with increasing US activities and presence in a neighboring Muslim area of Southeast Asia," the cable said. "It also whiffs of Malaysian interests Mindanao, an area in which Malaysia desires influence and economic gain."
The Vatican pressured the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) not to support protests calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005, a US embassy cable released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks revealed.
Confidential cable 05VATICAN500 said Monsignor Luis Montemayor, Holy See Country Director for the Philippines, said through the Holy See's Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Antonio Franco, the Vatican pressured the CBCP to remain neutral in the "Hello Garci" scandal in 2005.
"He told us that although the Vatican's preferences on the matter had never been a secret, Franco had for the first time on July 9 explained in no uncertain terms to the CBCP that the Vatican did not support popular uprisings as a method to remove a government," said the July 15, 2007 cable sent by Brent Hardt, then deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires of the US Embassy to the Holy See.
Hardt quoted Montemayor as saying, "We put a lot of pressure on the bishops" not to support the protests calling for the president's resignation.
The Holy See Country Director for the Philippines also added that the Vatican "insisted that the bishops distinguish between pastoral care and political involvement," the cable said.
"Montemayor, a former Department IVP recipient who has covered the Philippines since 2001, emphasized that he had always opposed Catholic clergy's involvement in popular uprisings against the government," the cable said.
[Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons]
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is believed to have temporarily transferred Hermogenes Ebdane from the Public Works department to the Department of National Defense (DND) in 2007 to have him personally handle the midterm elections in the same year, a US embassy cable published by whistleblower group WikiLeaks alleges.
Cable 07MANILA809, tagged Confidential with a "NOFORN" (not for release to foreign nationals) caveat, states that Ebdane was no more than an "Arroyo loyalist" who was "far from the best choice" that the President could have made to succeed former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz.
"He is a committed Arroyo loyalist whom many believe President Arroyo hand-picked to 'manage' the 2007 Congressional elections before returning to his previous portfolio as Secretary for Public Works," said the cable sent March 13, 2007 by the US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney.
Kenney reiterated this in another part of the memo.
"An Arroyo loyalist, Ebdane found his name prominently featured in the 'Hello Garci' tapes scandal from the controversial 2004 elections. Many believe he helped then-Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcilliano go into hiding at the peak of the controversy," the cable said, without naming specific sources.
"Rumors abound that Ebdane's tenure may not extend much beyond the May 2007 Congressional and local elections," it added. "President Arroyo has still not named a new Public Works Secretary, fueling speculation that he may return to his former cabinet post once he has "managed" the elections for the Administration to ensure that its candidates win enough seats to avoid a successful impeachment motion again this year. "
The cable proved correct.
Ebdane was appointed DND chief February 2007, a few months before the May polls. He left the DND and returned to the public works department in July the same year after the elections.
A leaked cable from the US Department of State revealed China's views on the Philippines and the government of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo back in 2007.
A cable sent from the US Embassy in Beijing, dated March 5, 2007, showed discussions between Eric John, then US Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP), and two senior Chinese diplomats regarding Southeast Asia.
The cable, labeled "secret" by the Beijing post, focused on the "overlapping interests" in the region, specifically among Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Thailand, East Timor, and the Philippines.
Under the subhead "Progress in the Philippines, but More Needed," the cable revealed the discussion between John and Hu Zhengyue, then Chinese Minstry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian Affairs, focusing on the Chinese efforts in dealing with the southeast Asian nation.
It revealed that China saw poverty as the "key challenge" facing the Philippines, and, as a response, Hu said they have "invested in its agricultural development and transportation infrastructure."
"Beijing recognizes corruption as the second significant problem facing the Philippines, but believes it "cannot do much about that," DG Hu said," the cable stated.
Meanwhile, China saw then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a "good leader," saying that she has shown "she is in control."
John agreed with the Chinese observation, saying Arroyo has "stabilized Philippine leadership and enacted strong fiscal and economic policy."
Despite this, John and Hu both agreed that their countries must encourage Manila to "continue working hard to promote transparency and good governance."
[Cable 07MANILA645] Philippines asks for help on extrajudicial killings
The United States suspected a Saudi Arabian ambassador to the Philippines of potential involvement in funding terrorists, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in December 2010.
A security aide of then-US president George W. Bush raised concerns over Muhammad Amin Waly in a private meeting with Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, in Jeddah in 2007, the secret cable showed.
"In a following private meeting... (Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Terrorism) Townsend raised US concerns with the potential involvement of the Saudi ambassador... in terrorism facilitation," it said.
Francis Townsend cited Waly's intervention to secure the release of two members of an Islamic charity detained in the Philippines, the cable showed.
The group was suspected of funnelling funds to Al-Qaeda-linked groups based in the southern Philippines.
"Prince Saud said some of his actions may have involved bad judgement rather than intentional support for terrorism," said the missive from the US embassy in Riyadh.
"Waly had been investigated, he said, and no evidence was found regarding his involvement."
The prince also told the Bush aide that Waly's Manila assignment was ending in a few months and sought US government evidence of his alleged terror links, the cable said.
Townsend pledged cooperation with the Saudi authorities in providing evidence, the cable added.
Waly was replaced by Abdullah Al Hassan as Saudi envoy to Manila in January this year.
The February 24, 2007, US embassy cable named the charity suspected of terror financing in the Philippines as IIRO, which stands for the International Islamic Relief Organisation.
Intelligence agencies have said IIRO was set up by Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Cable 07MANILA193 questioned the Philippine government's labor export policy as a development strategy.
"Though no one in the Philippines is talking about exporting labor as a development strategy, this is effectively what the country is doing," the cable said.
"Foreign remittances are the most dynamic sector of the Philippine economy, and have been for some years now," it stressed.
"As qualified airline pilots, engineers, mechanics, nurses, doctors, and teachers leave the Philippines for lucrative jobs abroad, it is crucial that a broadened, high-quality education system provide new, well-trained workers to take up their positions in the Philippines. So far, that is not happening," it added, highlighting the "brain drain" in the country.
The cable, sent by then US Ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney, said Washington should not be surprised that the Philippine government encourages Filipinos to work abroad and remit their earnings despite labor shortages affecting some sectors.
[Philippine Overseas Employment Administration composite photo]
Migrant Filipinos are synonymous with the word trouble in Malaysia's Sabah state, according to a confidential cable from the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Masidi Manjun, Sabah's Minister of Youth and Sports, told US diplomats in Malaysia that his state was "flooded with foreigners" and "singled out Filipino Muslims from Mindanao as 'especially troublesome.'"
Manjun claimed that the Filipinos were "using our [Malaysia's] social services and not integrating into society," and that "vagrancy and violence" were rampant within Sabah's Filipino community, according to the diplomatic cable dated October 10, 2006 that was deemed classified by US embassy political section chief Mark D. Clark.
The Sabah official, who headed government-funded think tank Institute of Development Studies, said the state's maritime and land borders are "very porous" and expressed concern that Sabah's foreign residents were starting to become politically active.
"He acknowledged, however, the economic importance of Sabah's foreign population," the US embassy cable said. "With regard to Sabah's large number of illegal foreign workers, estimated to total over 750,000, Manjun said, 'We need them here, or our economy would collapse."
Sabah's then Acting Police Commissioner, Mohd Bakri Zinin, also told American officials that "illegal migrants and other foreigners" account for about three-fourths of violent crimes committed in the state.
The embassy cable also quoted a state assemblyman, Samson Chin Chee Tsu, who said Filipinos and Indonesians outnumber Malaysians 3 to 1 along Sabah's east coast.
"He (Samson) and his wife recently refused to attend an event that gathered public and private sector leaders on the resort island of Mabul, off the east coast of Sabah, as he feared an attack on the gathering by Mindanao-based Muslim extremists," it added.
Simon Sipaun,then vice-chairman and state head of the Malaysian human rights commission Sukaham, also told US officials that the large number of Filipinos on the state's east coast represented a potential security threat "if they decide to become more politically active, or if parts of Mindanao become more autonomous."
US Special Forces troops have been directly involved in hunting down suspected terrorists in Mindanao, several diplomatic cables released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks revealed.
Cable 06MANILA3401, classified secret and sent August 14, 2006 in the name of US embassy deputy chief of mission Paul Jones, said US Special Forces troops and ships gave "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the 87-plus maritime interdictions" in Jolo, Sulu during an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) campaign in the said year against Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leaders on the island.
It added that this was made possible because the US Navy's Joint Venture and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines' (JSOTF-P) Mark V special operations crafts and rigid-hull inflatable boats are already fully integrated into the Philippine Navy.
The US embassy, however, wanted to hide this from the public.
In the cable's "if asked - press guidance" section, US officials are told to say that "US forces are not directly involved in this operation, but are providing support. Our forces, in a support role, advise, train, and share information with AFP forces."
New US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney arrives in Manila, replacing Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo defied the US government when she placed the entire country under a state of emergency in February 2006 during the 20th anniversary of EDSA people power.
Several alleged diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Manila published by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks show that American envoys stated their firm opposition to the imposition of emergency rule during separate meetings with Arroyo and other government and military officials a few months before the Palace issued Proclamation No. 1021.
Cable 05MANILA5328, classified secret and dated November 14, 2005, states that then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Eric John met Arroyo, Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, and defense officials 3 days earlier wherein he reiterated Washington's stand against any form of emergency rule in the Philippines.
"Both Arroyo and Romulo indicated that they consider emergency rule, as provided for by the Constitution, to be a legitimate option. Other senior officials have told us that emergency rule is under active consideration, but reassured us that it is unlikely to be imposed imminently," the cable said.
The phrase "martial law" was not used in the discussions.
John told Arroyo that emergency measures may "trigger a review of US defense-related and other assistance to the Philippines."
"The President responded only with a defiant stare," the cable stated.
The defiant stare would turn out into Proclamation No. 1021 that Presidential spokesperson Ignacio Bunye announced on the morning of February 24, 2006.
The US government has been trying to find overseas bank accounts of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leaders, according to a cable from the US embassy in Brazil that was released by WikiLeaks.
The cable from the American embassy in Brasilia was addressed to officials of the US National Security Council, the Treasury Department, and State Department and was coursed through SIPDIS, the secret data distribution network used by the US Department of Defense and the State Department.
The November 11, 2005 cable, classified secret by Deputy Economic Counselor J. Andrew Plowman, revealed that US embassy officials "delivered (a) reftel [reference telegram] prenotification on November 21 to Jaime Freitas, the Executive Director of COAF, Brazil's Financial Intelligence Unit, and to Luiza Lopes da Silva of the Foreign Ministry's Office for the Combat of Illicit Transnational Activities" regarding its investigations on the terrorist group's financing.
"Freitas undertook to search COAF's databases for any assets or accounts belonging to the three ASG leaders, as well as to circulate the list to other GoB agencies, including the intelligence agency (ABIN) and the Central Bank, for them to conduct similar searches," the cable added.
It did not name the 3 specific Abu Sayyaf leaders who could have held bank accounts overseas.
Saudi nationals have allegedly financed the operations of Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in the Philippines, according to secret diplomatic cables released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
To make matters worse, a Saudi ambassador reportedly intervened to secure the release of compatriots who were arrested in the Philippines for terrorism financing, the cables said.
Cable 05MANILA5126 dated November 2, 2005 that was sent in the name of US embassy deputy chief of mission Paul Jones said Saudi-origin terrorist financing came into the Philippines under the cover of donations to mosques, orphanages, and madrassahs.
Several other secret and confidential cables coming from the US embassy in Manila identified some of the individuals and organizations that were allegedly bankrolling terrorist groups.
Cable 05MANILA2356 said the groups include the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a subsidiary of the Saudi-based and funded Muslim World League (MWL).
Darryl N. Johnson serves as chargé d'affaires ad interim from August 2005 to March 2006.
Cable 05MANILA3231: Arroyo opposition fails to produce massive demonstration
" Despite opposition plans for additional rallies, the anti-GMA momentum seems to have fizzled following the decision of Catholic Bishops not to support a call for Arroyo's resignation."
[Photo by Matikas 0805, Wikimedia Commons]
The lack of a replacement for the scandal-ridden President Arroyo during her terms of office was echoed in a cable labelled 05MANILA3045 that was sent by July 1, 2005.
"[T]he business community appears to remain mostly supportive of her, likely because there are no alternative economic plans from other potential leaders that would better address business concerns," it said.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim gave the go-ahead in 2005 for the rebel forces to hunt down "high-value" terrorists belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Mindanao, a US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks Friday said.
The cable, which was classified "Secret," said an MILF-Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (MILF-AHJAG) official talked to US embassy Political Officer Joseph Saus June 24, 2006 to tell him that "the MILF is covertly mobilizing its forces in a "non-combat" effort to locate and capture suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) "key targets."
"The operation should take place over the next week, and has a 50-percent chance of success, according to the embassy contact, whose identity the cable asked be "strictly protected."
The MILF-AHJAG official told Saus "that the operation comes at the direct order of MILF Chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad and that the action required the 'utmost secrecy.'"
"Even MILF Base Commanders are out of the loop, due to Murad's concern that some continue to hide and/or protect these elements," the embassy said, quoting its contact person.
It is not known if the MILF operation was a success or if the Moro rebels were given cash under the US government's reward program.
[Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, abs-cbnNEWS.com photo]
One cable, labelled "05MANILA2675" that was sent by the US embassy in June 9, 2005, said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was validating a list of 53 suspected terrorists that was given by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
"MILF officials have publicly stated they are in the process of 'validating' the list, and the names will form the foundation of jointly executed investigations and arrests using the GRP-MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG)," the US embassy said.
Names on the list included suspected members of the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terrorist network and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
"An MILF AHJAG official privately stressed to poloff [US embassy political officer] that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Pentagon Gang suspects can be arrested easily. He noted, however, that Jemmah Islamiyah (JI) personalities are 'difficult to locate' because they operate in isolated areas and are suspicious of outsiders," the cable said.
Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo knew of her husband's heavy involvement in smuggling and illegal gambling syndicates but refused to stop him because he got her elected as President, a US embassy cable says.
Some of the Philippines' top business leaders raised the issue before American government officials in 2005 as they feared for the worst for the country, according to cable 05MANILA2670, classified "Confidential" by US embassy Economic Counselor Robert Ludan and sent by then US Chargé d'Affaires Joseph Mussomeli.
Washington Sycip, a founding partner of accounting giant SGV, told US officials that then First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo "is heavily involved in the illegal gambling or 'jueteng' networks and closely connected with major smuggling syndicates," according to the embassy memo.
"President Arroyo, according to Sycip, is aware of her husband's misdeeds, but she is unwilling to do anything to curb his activities because he was instrumental in marshaling campaign donations and is now keeping those supporters in line to help her maintain her grip on power," it added.
Cabinet officials were also caught in a bind. Many of their subordinates--Arroyo loyalists who were placed in key government positions--reported directly to the First Gentleman, bypassing chains of command, the cable revealed.
[Then US First Lady Laura Bush talks with Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo and Indonesia's Kristiani Herawati during a program for leaders' spouses during the APEC summit in Santiago, Chile, Nov. 20, 2004. White House photo by Susan Sterner.]
The US embassy in Manila washed its hands clean of involvement in the wiretapping and electoral fraud scandal involving then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in 2004, a diplomatic cable released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said.
Cable 05MANILA2626 dated June 6, 2005, revealed that then Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye met with the embassy's public affairs (PA) counselor to discuss reports that the US government provided Philippine opposition leaders with the wiretapped recordings, which are more known as the "Hello Garci" tapes.
"PA Counselor dismissed this claim. Bunye also asked whether the USG was angry with the GRP for trying to improve relations with China. PA Counselor replied that this claim was wholly unfounded," said the cable, signed in the name by then US Ambassador to the Philippines Joseph Mussomeli.
The cable said embassy officials reiterated the denial in media interviews and in meetings with other government officials.
"Philippine Ambassador to the US Albert Del Rosario, who is in Manila, also requested clarification from the Charge on June 4 about allegations that a USG official had provided the tape to the opposition. Charge [chargé d'affaires] denied the claim and reiterated US support for democracy and stability in the Philippines. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Reynaldo Wycoco also brought up the allegations in a June 5 meeting with Legatt [legal attaché]. Legatt also dismissed the claims," the cable said.
The confidential memo said the US embassy was also in the dark on who created the recordings.
"We are not sure of the precise origin tape itself, much less of the wild charge that the USG was somehow involved in this matter," it said.
Cable 05MANILA2359 tackles the scandal that links the husband and son of President Arroyo to illegal gambling, or jueteng.
The memo, dated May 23, 2005, said all that it would take then to oust Arroyo from power then "is for one credible witness -- like Governor Chavit Singsong [sic] in the Estrada case -- to go public."
"However, there is little enthusiasm for a new impeachment process that could constitutionally bump up Vice President Noli De Castro as President, despite a fairly widespread belief in elite circles that the Arroyos are indeed directly linked to jueteng payoffs," it added.
"The likelihood either of stamping out or legalizing jueteng remains low; too many powerful people benefit," said the embassy cable.
The Philippines would be a boiling cauldron of poverty and social unrest if it were not for the millions of Filipinos heading overseas to work in higher-paying jobs, according to another US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks.
Cable 05MANILA1808, titled "The 'Masa' as a Political Force," said social unrest in the country had yet to reach its tipping point.
"The export of OFWs provides an enormous political-economic safety valve for the Philippines; not only by providing needed hard currency for the domestic economy, but also by exporting large numbers of ambitious individuals from the 'masa' who might otherwise combine to force acute social-economic issues such as persistent poverty and unemployment to the political front burner and to take a pre-dominant political role against the entrenched elite," it explained.
Cebu residents may have allowed death squads to go on killing sprees in the city in the mid-2000s as a means to combat crime, a US embassy cable said.
Cable 05MANILA1774 titled "Latest Vigilante Killings in Cebu - No End in Sight" said summary executions of suspected criminals by "death squads" in Cebu rose by an alarming rate from December 2004 to the time of the cable's creation on April 18, 2005.
The embassy memo, sent by then US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone Jr., said suspected vigilantes killed at least 41 people in a 4-month period alone.
"Civil society groups have condemned the extrajudicial killings, but much of the public appears willing to tolerate them as an expedient means of combating crime," the cable said.
[Map of Cebu City via Mike Gonzalez (TheCoffee), Creative Commons)