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http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/02/08MANILA474.

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Reference ID 08MANILA474
VZCZCXRO5967

Created 2008-02-25 04:38

Released 2011-08-30 01:44

Classification UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Origin Embassy Manila

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM DE RUEHML #0474/01 0560438 ZNR UUUUU ZZH O 250438Z FEB 08 FM AMEMBASSY MANILA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9862 INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000474 SIPDIS STATE PASS TO USAID STATE FOR ECA, EAP SIPDIS SENSITIVE E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EAID RP SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR INAUGURATES INFRASTRUCTURE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT PROJECTS IN MINDANAO REF: 06 MANILA 4126

------SUMMARY -------

1.

(U) The Ambassador visited several U.S.-Philippine projects and

an American business facility during a visit to General Santos City, a thriving port city in southern Mindanao and the tuna capital of the Philippines, on February 8. The Ambassador inaugurated a USG-funded Maritime Intelligence Coordination Center and presented a USAID-funded contract to Mayor Pedro Acharon to design a wastewater treatment facility for the public market. The Ambassador also had lunch with two governors from local provinces, visited a DEA-sponsored anti-drug class at an elementary school, attended the graduation of a USAID-funded livelihood training program and toured the local Coca-Cola bottling plant. The Ambassador's visit was the lead story on the local television news, and national media also reported positively the visit and USG engagement in General Santos City. End summary.

------------------------------------Increasing Law-Enforcement Capacities ------------------------------------2. (U) Ambassador Kenney, along with U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral

Paul Zukunft and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Dionisio Santiago, attended the ribbon-cutting for a new US$500,000 Maritime Intelligence Coordination Center (MICC). The MICC, funded by the Joint Interagency Task Force West, is the third regional center in the Philippines. It is an "intelligence fusion" center, designed to provide a common meeting place for law enforcement agencies involved in marine interdiction and to assist them in building actionable legal cases involving drug trafficking and other transnational crimes. 3. (U) Later in the day, in keeping with the anti-drug theme, the Ambassador visited a Drug Abuse Resistance Education class at a local school, supporting efforts to steer children away from drug use. The Ambassador met 32 fifth and sixth graders, their teachers

and administrators, and two Philippine National Police (PNP) officers who serve as DARE officers. She congratulated them on their anti-drug efforts, and the children serenaded her with a musical pledge to live healthy and productive lives. --------------------------------------------- -Promoting U.S. Business With A Coke And A Smile --------------------------------------------- -4. (U) Coca-Cola's professional basketball team greeted the

Ambassador when she arrived at the General Santos Coca-Cola bottling plant, a U.S.-owned business with over 160 local employees. Coca-Cola leveraged the visit of the Ambassador, a renowned basketball fan, to raise the team's visibility, and at the same time promote the company's products. The Ambassador's presence drew a substantial crowd and local radio and television coverage, with one radio station transmitting live from the event. ------------------------------Peace and Security with Governors ------------------------------5. (SBU) During lunch with Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez and

South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, the Ambassador sought their assessment of the Peace Process and ways to increase investment in the region. The governors expressed frustration at Manila politics and said they would like to see national leaders focus less on political maneuvering, and more on governance and attracting businesses to underdeveloped provinces. 6. (SBU) The governors support reaching a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Even though there is minimal MILF activity in their provinces, both governors expressed the belief that unrest can spill over to other areas and adversely affects the investment climate. Governor Dominguez commented that

some Catholic bishops are concerned that majority Catholic cities may be incorporated into Muslim areas under the proposed peace deal. He speculated that this could turn out to be a positive development if it increased outside oversight and enhanced transparency, thus improving local governance. 7. (SBU) Both governors stated that the Armed Forces of the They believe the New People's Army

Philippines (AFP), which has a strong local presence, is viewed positively by local residents. AFP's actions. has diminished into isolated groups of bandits as a result of the Governor Dominguez asked the Ambassador for an Ambassador update on Jolo and the role of U.S. forces there. MANILA 00000474 002 OF 002

explained that they share information with the AFP (particularly on locations of leading terrorists) and assist the AFP with humanitarian outreach. --------------------------------------------U.S. Engagement in General Santos' Livelihood --------------------------------------------8. (U) The Ambassador presented a contract to the Mayor of General

Santos for technical assistance to construct the first wastewater treatment facility in the city during a ceremony at the bustling public market where freshly caught fish were arrayed on tables. USAID will fund the detailed engineering design of the plant, which will treat 80 tons of wastewater generated by the market each day. Currently, the water flows directly into Sarangani Bay nearby, degrading a biodiversity-rich body of water that provides livelihood to many city and Sarangani province residents engaged in fishing. 9. (U) Traveling to the outskirts of General Santos, the

Ambassador's party arrived at the Tinagacan neighborhood, where the Ambassador attended the graduation for 38 students who attended a USAID-funded livelihood training program that teaches out-of-school youth small-engine repair and welding skills. The program is an effort to both meet the demand for skilled laborers and create job opportunities in a part of the country where youth unemployment exceeds 20 percent. In her address, the Ambassador congratulated the students for their efforts and emphasized the connection between development and peace. KENNEY