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Cablegate: Burma Relief: Philippines Focused On a Successful

VZCZCXRO1626
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1260 1440813
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 230813Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0813
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 001260

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RP BM
SUBJECT: BURMA RELIEF: PHILIPPINES FOCUSED ON A SUCCESSFUL
PLEDGING CONFERENCE

REF: A. SECSTATE 55244

B. SECSTATE 53985

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Per reftels, Ambassador, polcouns, and
poloffs have underscored demarche points with Philippine
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials, from Foreign
Secretary Alberto Romulo to working-level contacts. DFA is
busy preparing for the May 25 UN-ASEAN co-sponsored
conference in Rangoon, and welcomed U.S. views and concerns
about potential outcomes. DFA officials share our
frustration that the Burmese junta has been recalcitrant and
obstructionist towards international assistance. According
to DFA officials, the Philippine government is likewise
underscoring the great importance of the pledging conference
by sending a delegation led by Senator Richard Gordon (also
Chair of the Philippine National Red Cross) and
Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In conjunction with poloffs' communication with
working-level DFA officials, Ambassador reinforced reftel
points in a May 23 conversation with Philippine Foreign
Secretary Alberto Romulo, underscoring the need for
independent assessments of the damage, our concern about the
Burmese regime's limiting access for international relief
operations, and that the U.S. is sending Rangoon Charge
d'Affaires Villarosa to the conference to emphasize the
importance of the gathering. Secretary Romulo assured the
Ambassador that the Philippines likewise intended to send a
strong message.

3. (SBU) Polcouns on May 23 detailed for Assistant Secretary
for Asian and Pacific Affairs Romeo Manalo our concerns about
the upcoming conference. Manalo readily grasped all the
points, and said he would share our views with higher DFA
levels and other offices represented in the Philippine
delegation. Poloff discussed demarche points with Asia and
Pacific Affairs Office (ASPAC) Principal Assistant Princess
Tayo on May 23, stresing the need for an independent
assessment of cyclone damage. When Tayo mentioned the ASEAN
Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ERAT) Mission Report as a
potential independent assessment, poloff noted that the ERAT
Mission Report bemoaned the Burmese regime's limiting access
to areas in the Irrawaddy delta most ravaged by Cyclone
Nargis.

4. (SBU) DFA Office of UN and International Organizations
(UNIO) Staff Officer Carolina Constantino told econoff May 23
that the Philippines concurs with the U.S. positions, and is
distressed over the Burmese junta's obstruction of
assistance. She added that her government also feels
strongly that rapid and objective assessments are critical to
the coordination of appropriate international donor response.
Constantino outlined that Singapore will offer ASEAN's
official response at the pledging conference.

5. (SBU) According to officials at DFA's ASEAN and ASPAC
offices, the delegation led by Senator Gordon and
Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo will also include
ASPAC Assistant Secretary Romeo Manalo and a representative
from the Office of ASEAN Affairs. ASPAC Principal Assistant
Princess Tayo said that DFA conversations and planning
surrounding the conference, as well as the delegation itself,
show that the Philippine government places high importance on
the conference, the suffering in Burma, and implications for
ASEAN should relief missions fail to gain sufficient access.

KENNEY

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