Cablegate: Scenesetter for Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter


DE RUEHML #1188/01 1060935
O 160935Z APR 07






E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Director Tschetter: We deeply appreciate your visit, which will
mean a lot to our Peace Corps volunteers and to Philippine
authorities who are offering extraordinary support in the search for
Julia Campbell. Karl will be at the airport upon your arrival and
give you the latest on the search. We will all travel together to
the site on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday you will meet all Peace
Corps Volunteers, key members of the Mission Country Team, senior
Philippine officials, and members of the media.

2. Let me take this opportunity to provide you with background on
our Peace Corps program, suggested media themes, and the context of
our relationship with the Philippines.

Peace Corps in the Philippines

3. Our overall relationship with the Philippines is deep, strong
and constructive. We are immensely proud of Peace Corps Philippines'
history spanning 46 years and of the more than 8,000 Volunteers who
have served here in numerous fields of development including
environment, education, business, and youth services. In the past
year Peace Corps Philippines has begun implementing important
programmatic changes to assure that all Volunteers have full jobs
and to respond to current Philippine development needs. The effect
of these changes has strengthened Peace Corps' position as a key
element of the overall US-Philippines relationship. The tragic
disappearance of Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell has drawn many
American and Philippine organization and officials together in
conducting search operations. The Embassy and staff continue to
offer all of the support possible to you and the Peace Corps in this

Press Themes in Search for Missing PCV

4. (U) The following press themes may assist you in your contacts
with the media in the Philippines.

-- The Peace Corps deeply appreciates the excellent assistance of
the Government of the Philippines in the ongoing search for our
missing Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell.

-- In particular, we thank local authorities in Banaue (Ban-OW-way)
and Ifugao (IF-u-gow) Province, the Philippine National Police, the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, and citizens of the Banaue area for
their generous assistance.

-- We thank the Filipino people for their prayers and support, and
we all continue to hope and pray for Julia and her family.

-- Peace Corps Volunteers have done great work in the Philippines
since 1961, and we have been proud to be a part of so many
Filipinos' lives. The more than 8,000 Americans who have served
here in the Peace Corps carry fond memories of this country and its

-- Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines serve and work in close
partnership with local government and charities to improve the lives
of Filipinos through education, environmental conservation, economic
opportunity, life skills development, and business development.

-- Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines work in national and
local government institutions and with numerous non-governmental
organizations to improve the lives of Filipinos through English
language and computer education, coastal resources management,
literacy and life skills development, and business development.

-- The Peace Corps will remain a committed partner of the
Philippines and friend of the Filipino people.

Partners in the Global War on Terror

5. (SBU) The Philippines is a strong partner in the global war
against terrorism. We are working together to rid the poor Southern
Philippines islands of international terrorists who hide among
Muslim insurgents in this Christian majority country. Our
engagement with the Philippines on counterterrorism ranges from
humanitarian relief and economic development to military cooperation
and public diplomacy. There is no better antidote to terrorism and
extremism than economic progress, and USAID and other USG programs
directly assist vulnerable populations and former insurgents. A
U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force provides advice and
assistance to Philippines Armed Forces conducting anti-terrorism
operations in the South. Although assignment of Peace Corps
Volunteers to these southern islands is ruled out due to security
concerns, Peace Corps remains active there via a distance learning
project in which Peace Corps Volunteers train Mindanao teachers of
English and Internet Communications.

Partners in Economic Development and Reform

6. (U) In the area of economic development, the United States
remains the Philippines' most important partner. With our bilateral
economic assistance of about $70 million in 2006, we are the
Philippines' largest grant aid donor. In addition, the Philippines
is in the middle of a Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Country
program to strengthen substantially its fiscal capacity through
fighting corruption and improving its revenue collections. If the
Philippines can demonstrate the political will to strengthen the
rule-of-law and successfully fight corruption, we would see more
domestic and foreign investment as well as more jobs and growth.

7. (U) The U.S. remains the Philippines' largest trading partner,
with over $16 billion in two-way merchandise trade. Japan falls
slightly behind us. Trade with China, though only about $6 billion
in 2005, grew by about 60 percent over the last year. Major U.S.
exports are electronics, machinery, and agriculture. The U.S. is
also the largest foreign investor, with over $6 billion in assets in
a broad range of manufacturing and service industries including
banking, insurance, consumer goods, electronics, autos, and
agriculture. The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines
describes itself as the first overseas American Chamber worldwide
and is an active contributor to the economic policy dialogue as well
as a strong supporter of trade and investment policy reforms.

8. (U) In comparison to other countries in the region, the
Philippine public and private sector investment levels remain low.
This condition inhibits the economy's ability to sustain accelerated
growth rates about 6 percent, the level necessary to begin reducing
poverty. The current GDP growth of about 5 percent is respectable,
but, with a population growth rate of 2.3 percent, the impact on per
capita income remains insufficient.

Politics and Poverty

9. (SBU) The Philippines is in the midst of election campaign for
half of its Senate, all seats in the House of Representatives, and
virtually all provincial and local leadership positions. May 14 is
election day. Most campaigns center on personalities, not policies.
The relatively small middle class, the mass emigration of overseas
workers (about ten percent of the total population, or twenty
percent of the workforce), and improved income distribution help
explain the absence of a strong political force for change. The
middle and upper income classes make up only 9 percent of the
population. The economy is heavily dependent on remittance inflows
from overseas workers, totaling about $13 billion annually. About
40 percent of the population living on $2 per day or less.

10. (U) We look forward to your visit.


© Scoop Media

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