Cablegate: Country Clearance for Eap/Mst Office Director Scot Marciel
DE RUEHML #0596/01 0530805
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 220805Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5380
INFO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 3070
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS MANILA 000596
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA JA RP
SUBJECT: COUNTRY CLEARANCE FOR EAP/MST OFFICE DIRECTOR SCOT MARCIEL
Ref: A) UNCLAS STATE 020486
1. Post warmly welcomes the February 27 to March 4, 2007, visit of
Scot Marciel traveling to the Philippines for consultations with
Embassy staff. Point of contact for this visit will be ConOff Ben
Reames. He can be reached at (63)-(2)-528-6300, ext. 2171 and at
2. Post has arranged lodging at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Makati
Ave. corner of Paseo de Roxas, Makati City, Manila for Mr. Marciel.
The telephone and fax numbers are, respectively: (632) 750-8888 and
(632) 817-2472. The confirmation number is: 285903. Reames will
meet Mr. Marciel at the airport.
3. Terrorism: The terrorist threat to American citizens in the
Philippines remains high. The Embassy continues to receive reports
of ongoing activities and of planned multiple attacks throughout the
Philippines by known terrorist groups. The Embassy urges visitors
to observe vigilant personal security precautions, to remain aware
of the continued potential for terrorist attacks against Americans,
and U.S. or other Western interests in the Philippines.
4. The Philippine government has been engaged on and off in
negotiations with Communist and Muslim rebel groups. Nonetheless,
rebel activity and armed banditry in certain areas of the
Philippines still pose security concerns. The Communist Party of
the Philippines and its terrorist military arm, the New People's
Army, operate throughout the country and have issued public threats
against U.S. citizens and interests in the Philippines. Americans
are urged to exercise caution when traveling throughout the country
and are specifically warned to avoid hiking or camping in the
vicinity of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga Province.
5. In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnappings, bombings,
violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many
areas. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which the U.S. Government has
designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, has kidnapped several
Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were
freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were
rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping
gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of
foreigners for ransom.
6. Operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which the U.S.
Government has also designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, are
also present in the Philippines. JI is an extremist group linked to
al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating
throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have
demonstrated a capability to carry out transnational attacks in
locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not
distinguish between official and civilian targets.
7. U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk of
terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups in the
Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible
terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel,
public and private institutions, and transportation carriers. The
Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The RSO reminds all
visitors to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues
and always to follow basic and important security countermeasures:
do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary
the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low
profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include
possible surveillance, to the RSO. In light of recent events, the
State Department urges all visitors to maintain a high level of
vigilance and to increase their security awareness when traveling
throughout the Philippines. All visitors are urged to review the
State Department's most recent Public Announcement on the
Philippines. Due to the United States' efforts in the on-going War
Against Terrorism, the potential for retaliatory acts against
Americans worldwide is real.
8. Crime: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United
States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of
thumb, visitors are advised to exercise good judgment and remain
aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games,
pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown
individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you
have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults
involving the "date rape drug" (known locally as Ativan) have
occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and
female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food,
drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they
appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent
assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area, although Americans
have not been specifically targeted in such crimes. There have also
been reports of gunmen robbing foreign passengers in vehicles
traveling to and from the international airport.
9. Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation.
However, the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi
if it has already accepted another passenger; and, request that the
meter be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your
requests, it is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good
idea to make a mental note of the license plate number should there
be a problem. When driving in the city, make certain that the doors
are locked and the windows rolled up. All other forms of public
transportation, such as the light rail system, buses, and "jeepneys"
should be avoided for both safety and security reasons.
10. Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One
common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an
electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the
PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used
to make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this
scam, never let your card out of your sight.
11. A continuing problem is the commercial scam or sting that
attempts to sell or to seek negotiation of fraudulent U.S.
securities. Visitors should be wary when presented with supposed
Federal Reserve Notes or U.S. securities for sale or negotiation.
Common sense is the rule of thumb.
12. Travel: Before traveling to the Philippines, we urge you to
visit the State Department's web site at www.state.gov for the
latest security and travel information. All visitors should defer
travel to isolated beach resorts and avoid personal travel to the
islands of Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago. The RSO must approve all
official travel to these islands in advance.
13. If you have additional security-related questions, you may
contact the RSO either through your control officer or directly at
(632) 528-6300, ext 2290, (632) 522-2337 (FAX), or at
RSOmanila@state.gov (unclassified email).