Search

 

Cablegate: Ambassador Forges Key Relationships in Islamic City Of

VZCZCXRO3616
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHML #0651/01 0730916
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130916Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0125
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000651

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KPAO RP EAID
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR FORGES KEY RELATIONSHIPS IN ISLAMIC CITY OF
MARAWI, PROMOTING PEACE AND PROSPERITY

REF: A) 06 MANILA 4553
B) 07 MANILA 3909

1. (U) SUMMARY. On March 1, the Ambassador returned to Marawi
City, the heart of Muslim Mindanao, accompanied by EAP DAS Scot
Marciel. The strategic timing of the visit, near the end of the
annual joint military Balikatan exercises, was intended to promote
goodwill with the city's somewhat skeptical populace. The
Ambassador's trip renewed two themes from her previous visit (ref A)
and visits by country team members: promoting peace and prosperity,
and protecting the environment. The day included a civil-military
medical mission and building project, two USAID environmental
programs, and a model police station training class. The visit made
inroads with the people of Marawi and key individuals, although
sustaining a positive relationship with the city will require
ongoing attention. END SUMMARY.

MARAWI: THE ISLAMIC CITY BY THE LAKE
------------------------------------

2. (U) The Islamic City of Marawi is the capital of Lanao del Sur
and has a population of 130,000 that is more than 90 percent Muslim.
Marawi is also the region's cultural and educational center, home to
Mindanao State University (MSU). It is situated on Lake Lanao, one
of the 15 ancient lakes of the world, which serves as a major source
of livelihood for the city's residents and provides 70 percent of
the city's power. The population of Marawi remains among the poorest
in the Philippines, however, and relatively isolated, as logistics
make travel to and from the city difficult.

3. (SBU) Although still generally pro-America, there are factions
of Muslim Mindanao, and Marawi in particular, that are suspicious of
U.S military activities. The Ambassador leveraged the visibility
enjoyed by U.S. envoys in the Philippines to draw attention to the
military's humanitarian efforts. She was met by roughly 20
protestors on the MSU campus and a well-coordinated anti-U.S.
military sign campaign across the city. However, as evidence that
this is not the sentiment of the majority, the Ambassador was also
greeted by large, enthusiastic crowds throughout the day.

SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
--------------------------------------------

4. The day began with a visit to a medical civil action program
(MEDCAP), coordinated as part of Balikatan -- an annual joint
"shoulder-to-shoulder" military exercise and humanitarian project.
The U.S. military and Armed Forces of the Philippines provided
medical and dental services to nearly 350 Marawi residents. The
Ambassador also cut the ribbon on two elementary school classrooms
built jointly by 120 U.S. and Philippine troops and furnished by a
private non-profit foundation. During the ribbon cutting ceremony,
the City Administrator remarked that Marawi is a peaceful city,
despite its opposition to Balikatan. He welcomed, on behalf of the
city, the medical missions and building projects. The Ambassador
responded that improved health and education are the greatest gifts
we can give to the people of Marawi.

PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS
---------------------------------

5. (U) The Ambassador reconnected with members of the Philippine
Muslim Women's Council (PMWC), with whom she had met during her
previous visit to Marawi. At that time, the PMWC received a USAID
grant to develop an action plan for the conservation of Lake Lanao.
Lake Lanao has become increasingly polluted from sewage and
agricultural waste, indiscriminate logging, and excessive land use.
With the grant, the PMWC convened focus groups, developed a plan for
improving lake management, and embarked on a publicity campaign.
The Ambassador commended the women for their leadership, and
complimented them for their work at the local level, for taking
environmental responsibility seriously, and for creating inclusive
partnerships. She commended them for passing the lake's treasure to
the next generation, as reflected by their motto, "Our Lake, Let Us
Save It."

6. (U) Later, the Ambassador was greeted by a large crowd at a
local mosque, where she witnessed the signing of an MSU-EcoGov grant
agreement. Through USAID's EcoGov program, the mosque was given
funding to improve its ablution facilities. The Ambassador also
presented local religious leaders with "Al Khalifa," a resource book
for Muslim communities on environmental management practices. Her
message was one of environmental responsibility for the future of
the city's children. The newly selected President of Mindanao State
University praised the United States for its generosity, thanked the
Ambassador for her assistance, and noted the long history of
American support. (MSU was built by Americans, its first teachers
Peace Corps Volunteers.) The Ambassador had the opportunity earlier
in the day to discuss with the MSU President the importance of
education and to renew the U.S. commitment to facilitating

MANILA 00000651 002 OF 002


educational exchanges.

MODEL POLICING: KEEPING THE CITY SAFE
------------------------------------

7. (U) The Ambassador also had the opportunity to stress the
importance of community safety to promoting peace. The city of
Marawi was selected as one of ten Model Police Stations in the
Philippines to receive assistance through the International Criminal
Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICITAP). More than
100 Marawi police officers have received training on subjects such
as crime scene investigation, community policing, and human rights.
The Ambassador met with 15 police officers and cadets who had
benefited from the program. They briefed her on their progress and
shared with pride how they are learning from each other. Among the
group were several female cadets, a rare but important asset in
Muslim Mindanao. The Ambassador congratulated the group and
commented on the importance of their work. DAS Marciel also
addressed the group, noting that it was beneficial for him to see
first-hand the success of the programs that Washington funds.

A MESSAGE OF PEACE AND PARTNERSHIP
----------------------------------

8. (U) The Ambassador's visit to Marawi was an important step in
cementing the friendship between the U.S. and the local -- sometimes
skeptical-- population. Based on the positive media coverage, the
efforts seem to be working. During an interview at a local radio
station, the Ambassador noted the importance of the
Philippine-American partnership. The interviewer, proud of his
recent selection as an International Visitor program participant,
thanked the Ambassador for the USG's continued assistance. The
Ambassador praised him for communicating a message of peace.

9. (SBU) COMMENT. The Ambassador's trip to Marawi was marked with
interesting contrasts and contradictions. At the mosque ceremony a
local Imam prayed for an end to the U.S. military presence, but
thanked the United States for its humanitarian efforts. Signs in the
center of town counted down the days until the end of Balikatan, but
families lined up by the hundreds to receive military medical
assistance. These contradictions reflect the delicate balance of
public opinion, easily swayed by negative external influence. Also
of note, key local officials, including the governor and mayor, were
absent from the day's events, perhaps signaling their hesitation to
publicly support U.S. activities. Nonetheless, the Ambassador's
trip was timely and garnered much-needed support in an area of the
Philippines particularly sensitive to U.S. presence. END COMMENT.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC