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Cablegate: Ambassador Kicks Off Pacific Partnership Philippines 2008

VZCZCXRO1514
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHML #1353 1570036
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 050036Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0908
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANILA 001353

SENSITIVE
STATE FOR EAP/MTS
STATE FOR OES
STATE PASS USAID

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER RP
SUBJECT: Ambassador Kicks Off Pacific Partnership Philippines 2008

1. SUMMARY: On May 30, 2008, Ambassador Kenney kicked off the
two-week visit of the USNS MERCY to the Philippines, a Pacific
Partnership 2008 initiative which brings together personnel from the
U.S. military, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine
government, partner militaries from other allies, and
non-governmental organizations to provide medical, dental,
veterinary and engineering assistance to citizens of the
Philippines. Mercy and Philippine military bands played at the
opening ceremony near Cotabato City, in the southern Philippines.
The Ambassador was joined by the U.S. and Philippine co-commanders
from the MERCY and the Philippine Executive Director of the
Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement. Also in
attendance were the Cotabato City Mayor, Congresswoman Mendoza of
North Cotabato, regional Philippine military and police generals,
members of the International Monitoring Team, NGO representatives,
local politicians and academics. Following the conclusion of the
official ceremony, all guests received tours on board the ship and
were impressed with the many Filipino-American sailors and medical
professionals they met along the way. END SUMMARY.

2. The Partnership brings together military and medical personnel,
health care agencies, and non-governmental organizations to deliver
humanitarian and civic assistance. The Embassy has been working
seamlessly with Mercy personnel for the past eight months to plan a
superb, interagency and intergovernmental deployment. The USNS
MERCY will serve as the command post and medical service facility
for more than 1200 partner nation personnel, linked to a robust
interagency team at Embassy Manila. One of two specially-designed
vessels in the U.S. Navy equipped to provide a variety of medical
services such as surgery, burn care, preventative medicine,
optometry screenings, dental treatment and veterinary care, the
MERCY is staffed by an experienced cadre of medical professionals.
The Mission's activities include medical and dental civic actions
programs -- including surgeries onboard the MERCY, services and
assistance in biomedical repair, preventive medicine, veterinary
services, and engineering projects. The 2008 Mission expects to
provide services to tens of thousands of residents in Mindanao and
Samar.

3. In her remarks to the assembled guests and media, Ambassador
Kenney highlighted the longstanding friendship and cooperation
between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines, and
the important medical and other services that would be delivered to
Filipinos in Central Mindanao and Samar by U.S., Philippine,
Australian, Canadian, and Japanese military personnel. She also
took the opportunity to encourage all parties to support the ongoing
peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front. Representing the Philippine government,
Visiting Forces Commission head Undersecretary Adan noted the
mission exemplified the effort of developing, nurturing, and
sustaining the partnership between the people of the U.S. and the
people of the Philippines, and also the partnership between the
armed forces of the two countries. He enthusiastically welcomed the
mission and noted that it gave substance to the relationship, and
urged everyone to give the fullest cooperation to support the
endeavor.

4. After the formal ceremony, the Amb

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