Cablegate: Country Clearance Granted for a/S Raj Chellaraj, Jennifer
DE RUEHML #5095/01 3620522
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280522Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4395
UNCLAS MANILA 005095
FOR A/S Chellaraj
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT ASEC OTRA RP
SUBJECT: Country Clearance Granted for A/S Raj Chellaraj, Jennifer
Wicks, Kenneth Wilkinson, Alan Greenfield, and Frederick R. Cook
REF: STATE 202183
1. Embassy Manila warmly welcomes and grants country clearance to
Assistant Secretary Chellaraj, Jennifer Wicks, Kenneth Wilkinson,
Alan Greenfield, and Frederick R. Cook for January 23-25, 2007.
2. Contact Information: Reservations have been made at the
Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.
- The hotel phone is (632) 813-8888.
- Control Officer S/GSO Scott D. McDonald's phone numbers are (63-2)
528-6300, Ext. 2831 or (cell phone) 632-918-948 6350. Manila
Management Counselor Catherine (Cassy) Ebert-Gray will join you on
your flight from the EAP Management Officers Conference in Phnom
Penh to Manila.
3. Post will propose a schedule for A/S Chellaraj shortly.
4. Security Information:
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 Information:
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. Safe Travel Guidance:
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.
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.
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. If you have additional security-related
questions, you may contact post.