Cablegate: Charge Visits Subic During Us-Philippines
DE RUEHML #3464 2300353
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180353Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2548
INFO RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS MANILA 003464
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS MCAP EWWT ECON RP
SUBJECT: CHARGE VISITS SUBIC DURING US-PHILIPPINES
NAVY/COAST GUARD EXERCISE
REF: MANILA 2637
1. Following up on the Ambassador's visit to Subic June
15-16 (reftel), Charge d'Affaires visited the Subic Bay
region August 15-16 to meet local officials, observe
Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2006, and
participate in a CARAT community relations event. CARAT is a
joint U.S.-Philippine Navy and Coast Guard training exercise
focused on combating seaborne terrorism threats and
transnational crimes. CARAT 2006 included several community
relations events, which Embassy believes is a critical
element of our overall strategy to maintain and enhance
domestic support for U.S. military deployments. On August
16, CDA, CARAT Commander Rear Admiral William Burke, and a
dozen U.S. sailors visited a school for deaf and blind
children, donating books, sewing machines, and food items.
CDA and Admiral Burke underscored the continuing U.S.
engagement in the Subic Bay region to members of the local
and national media through exercises such as CARAT, in
addition to Peace Corps, USAID, and U.S. business activity.
2. At an August 15 reception aboard the USNS Hopper, Subic
Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand Arreza
highlighted the infrastructural changes coming to the Subic
Bay area that he hopes will enhance its economic viability
for foreign investment. These include: the Japanese-financed
Clark-Subic Expressway, due for completion in 2007, which
will also bring new high-tech fiber optic capability; a
Chinese firm's USD300 million investment in glass production
facilities; and, the Korean firm Hanjin Heavy Industries and
Construction's hiring of 1,000 welders for its new and
growing shipbuilding facility based in Subic.
3. CDA paid a courtesy call on James "Bong" Gordon, Mayor of
Olongapo on August 15. Mayor Gordon said the Olongapo
community remained strongly supportive of U.S. ship visits
and welcomed U.S. sailors, marines, and soldiers on liberty.
He welcomed U.S. naval activity in Subic Bay and said he and
other local officials were highly conscious of the importance
of port security and personal safety for individual U.S.
servicemen at work and on liberty.
4. Comment: The ongoing CARAT exercise contributes
importantly to our overall engagement with the Philippines.
The Embassy believes that community relations activities are
critical to the overall goals of our military engagement, and
would welcome their expansion. We also welcome U.S. Coast
Guard participation in exercises such as CARAT because it
helps facilitate cooperation with the Philippine Coast Guard,
which is a key partner for success in counterterrorism
operations and drug trafficking interdiction. Finally, we
support planning for CARAT 2007 to take place in the Mindanao
region to further focus U.S.-Philippine maritime security
efforts in the region terrorist exploit.