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Cablegate: Staffdel Branegan - Visit to the Philippines (Nov 10-14,

VZCZCXYZ0009
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHML #2529/01 3120801
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 070801Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2362
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 4988
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 4489

UNCLAS MANILA 002529

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP AND H

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP AMGT ASEC AFIN RP HG LA
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL Branegan - Visit to the Philippines (Nov 10-14,
2008)

REF: STATE 117498

1. Embassy Manila welcomes Mr. James Branegan, professional staff
member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Control
officers for his visit will be Econ Officer, David Rovinsky, who can
be contacted at: office (63 2) 301 2332, cell no. (63 917) 867 3521,
home (63 2) 815 3862, e-mail: RovinskyDJ@state.gov, and Grazyna
Coffin office (63 2) 301 2552, cell (63 917) 867 3529, home 833
2995, e-mail:coffingx@state.gov. Mr. Rovinsky will meet Mr. Branegan
at the airport and provide him with the per diem for lodging and
M&IE.

2. Hotel accommodations are confirmed at Makati Shangri-La Manila
hotel, Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue, Makati City, tel (63 2)
813 8888 fax (63 2) 814 5499. Hotel daily rate is approximately USD
160, including taxes, service fee and breakfast.

3. Scheduled agenda, times local (Washington plus 13 hours):

November 10
22:15 Arrive Manila, flight JL74. Meet and greet by David
Rovinsky, Economic Officer
November 11

8:00-9:00 Breakfast with Amb. Curtis S. Chin (ADB)
9:00-13:00 Meeting with Director General, Dr. Robert Zeigler and
staff, International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos
13:15-15:30 Meeting with the Chancellor, Dr. Cesar B. Quicoy,
University of the Philippines, Los Banos

November 12

8:15-9:30 Call on Ambassador Kenney, followed by Country Team
Briefing (Embassy)
9:30-11:00 Round Table Meeting (Embassy officers & Staff) USAID,
FAS, Econ
11:00-13:00 Travel and lunch
13:00-14:00 Meeting with Christopher Wensley, Agriculture,
Environment and Natural Resources Div, ADB
14:00-15:00 Travel
15:00-16:00 Meeting with Isagani R. Serrano, Vice President
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement

November 13

8:30-10:00 Meeting with Usec Segfredo Serrano, Department of
Agriculture, Policy and Planning
10:00-11:00 Travel
11:00-12:00 Meeting with Ramon Clarete, University of the
Philippines, School of Economics, and Abraham Manalo, Biotech
Coalition of the Philippines
12:00-13:00 Lunch and travel
13:00-14:00 Meeting with Stephen L. Anderson, Country Director,
World Food Program
14:00-15:00 Travel
15:00-16:00 Meeting with Margarita R. Songco, Deputy Director,
National Economic & Development Authority

November 14

8:00-9:00 Meeting with Arcadio Cruz, Assistant FAO Representative,
Food & Agriculture Organization
10:00-11:00 Meeting with Leonardo Montemayor, Federation of Free
Farmers, (former DA Secretary)
11:30 Proceed to the airport for 14:50 flight


4. Terrorism: The terrorist threat to American citizens in the
Philippines remains high. The Embassy continues to receive reports
of ongoing activities and of planned multiple attacks throughout the
Philippines by known terrorist groups. The Embassy urges visitors to
observe vigilant personal security precautions, to remain aware of
the continued potential for terrorist attacks against Americans, and
U.S. or other Western interests in the Philippines. The Philippine
government has been engaged on and off in negotiations with
Communist and Muslim rebel groups. Nonetheless, rebel activity and
armed banditry in certain areas of the Philippines still pose
security concerns. The Communist Party of the Philippines and its
terrorist military arm, the New People's Army, operate throughout
the country and have issued public threats against U.S. citizens and
interests in the Philippines. Americans are urged to exercise
caution when traveling throughout the country and are specifically
warned to avoid hiking or camping in the vicinity of Mt.Pinatubo in
Pampanga Province.
In Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, kidnappings, bombings,
violence, and insurgent activity make travel hazardous in many
areas. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) , which the U.S. Government has
designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, has kidnapped several
Americans and other foreign tourists since April 2000. Some were
freed after substantial ransoms were paid, some escaped or were
rescued by military action, and some were killed. Other kidnapping
gangs operate in the same general area and have abducted a number of
foreigners for ransom. Operatives of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI),
which the U.S. Government has also designated a Foreign Terrorist
Organization, are also present in the Philippines. JI is an
extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and other regional terrorist
groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist
groups in the region have demonstrated a capability to carry out
transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate.
Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian
targets. U.S. citizens and interests may be at increased risk of
terrorist actions from foreign or domestic extremist groups in the
Philippines. There are periodic reports of plans for possible
terrorist acts aimed at U.S. Government facilities or personnel,
public and private institutions, and transportation carriers. The
Embassy takes all such threats seriously. The RSO reminds all
visitors to remain vigilant with regard to personal security issues
and always to follow basic and important security countermeasures:
do not establish a pattern or routine in movement and travel; vary
the times and routes taken to the extent possible; maintain a low
profile; and immediately report any unusual activity, to include
possible surveillance, to the RSO. In light of recent events, the
State Department urges all visitors to maintain a high level of
vigilance and to increase their security awareness when traveling
throughout the Philippines. All visitors are urged to review the
State Department's most recent Public Announcement on the
Philippines. Due to the United States' efforts in the on-going War
Against Terrorism, the potential for retaliatory acts against
Americans worldwide is real.

5. Crime: As in many of the major metropolitan areas in the United
States, crime is a serious concern in Metro Manila. As a rule of
thumb, visitors are advised to exercise good judgment and remain
aware of their surroundings. Reports of confidence games,
pick-pocketing and credit card fraud are common. Be wary of unknown
individuals who attempt to befriend you, especially just after you
have arrived in country. A number of recent robberies and assaults
involving the "date rape drug" (known locally as Ativan) have
occurred; the drug is generally administered to unwitting male and
female visitors via food or drink. It is best not to accept food,
drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they
appear legitimate. There have been several kidnappings and violent
assaults of foreigners in the Metro Manila area, although Americans
have not been specifically targeted in such crimes. There have also
been reports of gunmen robbing foreign passengers in vehicles
traveling to and from the international airport.

6. Taxis are the recommended form of public transportation. However,
the following safeguards are important: do not enter a taxi if it
has already accepted another passenger; and, request that the meter
be used. If the driver is unwilling to comply with your requests, it
is best to wait for another cab. It is also a good idea to make a
mental note of the license plate number should there be a problem.
When driving in the city, make certain that the doors are locked and
the windows rolled up. All other forms of public transportation,
such as the light rail system, buses, and "jeepneys" should be
avoided for both safety and security reasons.

7. Visitors should also be vigilant when using credit cards. One
common form of credit card fraud involves the illicit use of an
electronic device to retrieve and record information, including the
PIN, from the card's magnetic strip. The information is then used to
make unauthorized purchases. To limit your vulnerability to this
scam, never let your card out of your sight. A continuing problem is
the commercial scam or sting that attempts to sell or to seek
negotiation of fraudulent U.S. securities. Visitors should be wary
when presented with supposed Federal Reserve Notes or U.S.
securities for sale or negotiation. Common sense is the rule of
thumb.

8. Travel: Before traveling to the Philippines, we urge you to visit
the State Department's web site at www.state.gov for the latest
security and travel information. All visitors should defer travel to
isolated beach resorts and avoid personal travel to the islands of
Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago. The RSO must approve all official
travel to these islands in advance.

9. If you have additional security-related questions, you may
contact the RSO either through your control officer or directly at
(632)528-6300, ext 2290, (632)522-2337 (FAX), or at
RSOmanila@state.gov.

10. We look forward to your visit.

Kenney

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