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Cablegate: Philippines Recognizes Flaws with Burmese

VZCZCXRO6133
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1083 1270832
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060832Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0613
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 001083

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EAP/MLS (COPE), EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RP BM
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES RECOGNIZES FLAWS WITH BURMESE
CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM

REF: A. STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT BUSH - MAY 1

B. EXECUTIVE ORDER 13464 (BLOCKING PROPERTY AND
PROHIBITING CERTAIN TRANSACTIONS RELATED
TO BURMA)
C. SECSTATE 45471 (DEMARCHE REQUEST: BURMA'S FLAWED
CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM)
D. MANILA 690 (PHILIPPINES SUPPORTS FAIRNESS IN
BURMESE REFERENDUM)
E. MANILA 654 (EAP DAS STRESSES NEED TO MAINTAIN
PRESSURE ON BURMA)

1. (SBU) The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is acutely
aware of the planned May 10 constitutional referendum in
Burma and agrees with our assessment of its flaws. President
Arroyo publicly chastised the Burmese junta March 9 for not
allowing international observers at the planned referendum
(refs D and E). In her statement, Arroyo called the Burmese
regime's rejection of outside observers "a sad day for
democracy" and made it clear to the international community
that she considered it a "strong rebuff of the UN." DFA
Acting Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Lourdes
Yparraguirre assured Polcouns May 5 that Philippine support
for that position had not wavered.

CONTINUING TO TAKE A STRONG STAND
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) On May 5 Polcouns raised demarche points (ref C)
with Acting Assistant Secretary Yparraguirre, who confirmed
that the Burmese constitutional referendum was extremely
important to President Arroyo as indicated by her March 9
statement. Yparraguirre was certain the President Arroyo
would "continue to take a strong stand on this issue of great
concern," and added that she would take the issue to the
highest levels of the DFA. Separately, Asian and Pacific
Affairs (ASPAC) Southeast Asia Director Maria Elena
Algabre-Misrahi said May 2 that "flaws in the process and in
the constitution itself" were consistent with the critique
detailed in the demarche request (ref C). According to
Algabre-Misrahi, Burmese diplomats, who have always been
constrained by their military, are increasingly expressing
frustration with their own government in informal meetings
with ASEAN counterparts regarding the human rights and
economic situation in Burma and how it adversely affects
ASEAN.

PRESIDENT'S EXECUTIVE ORDER AGAINST THE BURMESE REGIME
--------------------------------------------- ---------

3. (SBU) Post also highlighted President Bush's April 30
public statement (ref A) and message to Congress regarding
Executive Order 13464, which further blocks transactions
involving Burmese government assets (ref B). Post shared the
text of the Presidential statement with DFA Asian and Pacific
Affairs (ASPAC) Executive Director Maria Hellen Barber May 2
and raised demarche points again (ref C). Post also shared
the text with ASPAC Assistant Secretary Romeo Manalo and
DFA's ASEAN Affairs Officer-in-Charge Angelica Escalona on
May 5. DFA officials welcomed the additional documents and
indicated they would carefully review them.


Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov
KENNEY

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