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Cablegate: Dcm Visit to Davao Spotlights Youth, Business And

VZCZCXRO9836
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3605/01 3110546
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 070546Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8817
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003605

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PREL APEC CASC BTIO BEXP EAIR ECON RP
SUBJECT: DCM visit to Davao spotlights youth, business and
environmental programs

REF: Manila 2422

Manila 2672

1. (U) Summary: During an October 24-25 visit to Mindanao's
largest city, the Deputy Chief of Mission joined local government
leaders and U.S. businesses to inaugurate the ninth annual Davao
Trade Expo, featuring the largest number of U.S. companies ever to
participate. The DCM also spoke to a hundred youth leaders who had
participated in State Department exchanges; was interviewed on the
most popular regional TV morning show; visited with beneficiaries of
a U.S. Department of Agriculture-supported River Conservation and
Clean-Up project; toured a G/TIP/USAID-supported halfway house for
victims of trafficking in persons; and discussed security threats in
Central Mindanao with the regional commander for the Armed Forces of
the Philippines. The visit re-emphasized themes from the
Ambassador's previous travels to Davao, during which she praised the
success of Davao area businesses as evidence that progress toward
peace can result in increased investment and prosperity (reftels).
End Summary.

DAVAO CITY

2. (SBU) Davao City is growing well economically, and is generally
peaceful and secure, in contrast to the 1970's and 1980's when
criminal gangs and the New People's Army of the Communist Party were
far more active. However, the city has a high incidence of alleged
vigilante killings. South Eastern Mindanao, while primarily
agricultural, is developing into a center for agro-industrial
business, trade, and tourism, and seeks stronger links to markets in
other parts of Mindanao, Brunei Darussalam, and parts of Malaysia
and Indonesia. City government is run by a father-daughter tandem,
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and the Vice Mayor, Sara Duterte. Mayor
Duterte is averse to U.S. involvement in his city, opposing
Balikatan joint training exercises because he believes the presence
of U.S. military personnel will attract terrorist attacks. He is
also highly critical of U.S. travel warnings regarding Mindanao,
considering them counter-productive to boosting tourism. He
generally avoids contact with Embassy Country Team Members, as he
did during this trip.

YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM - PHILIPPINES

3. (U) This program brings Muslim and non-Muslim youth from Mindanao
to study conflict resolution and inter-ethnic understanding for one
month at Northern Illinois University and live with local families,
while strengthening relationships between the people of the United
States and the Philippines. At the closing ceremony of a three-day
reunion of program alumni, the Deputy Chief of Mission handed out
awards and certificates of completion to the 96 highly enthusiastic
students, who told stories of the conflict in their respective areas
and how much the exchange program has helped them deliver messages
of peace, inter-ethnic dialogue, and conflict resolution.

DAVAO RIVER CONSERVATION PROJECT

4. (U) A large crowd of local residents greeted the DCM when he
arrived at the banks of the Davao River. The local leaders
described their project and expressed thanks for U.S. government
financial support, which is helping to keep the river cleaner,
maintain fishing resources, and provide sustainable alternatives for
agriculture and fishing. The DCM planted a mangrove tree, used at
the site to prevent erosion; some residents use mangrove leaves to
feed livestock, and the bark of the trees to weave into fiber. This
project, otherwise known as "TIN-AW" (Timely Intervention and
Natural Approaches to Watershed Management) is funded by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Food for Progress program and
implemented by Catholic Relief Services through two local
non-governmental organizations: People Collaborating for
Environmental and Economic Management, and Protect the Davao River
Movement.

AMERICAN SHOWCASE AT THE DAVAO TRADE EXPO

5. (U) A record 16 U.S. brands had representatives at the "American
Showcase", the highlight of this year's 9th annual Davao Trade Expo.
In addition to the U.S. pavilion within the local trade show, 58
"new-to-market" U.S. firms were part of a catalog exhibition
presenting business opportunities. The catalog exhibition was
staffed by employees of the U.S. Commercial Service. The Davao
program was the third and final stop of this major U.S. business
road show, following successful stops in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro
earlier this month. The DCM participated in a ribbon cutting
ceremony and then toured the Showcase, along with regional business
and government officials, including Davao Oriental governor Corazon
Nuez-Malanyaon. The DCM highlighted increased participation by
U.S. businesses at the Davao Expo and the positive impact U.S

MANILA 00003605 002 OF 002


business had on the Philippines as good corporate citizens. He took
advantage of heavy press coverage of the event to encourage the
people of the Davao region to keep working hard for peace, which, in
turn, would attract more business investment to their area.

VISAYAN FORUM FOUNDATION HALFWAY HOUSE

6. (U) The DCM then visited the Visayan Forum Foundation's Halfway
House for victims of human trafficking at the Port of Davao. The
Visayan Forum Foundation works for the welfare of marginalized
migrants, especially those working in the invisible and informal
sectors, such as domestic workers. State and USAID funds support
operation of Visayan Forum Halfway Houses at several ports across
the Philippines, including Davao. The Port manager showed the DCM
the various areas of the Port where trafficking victims could be
identified and rescued with assistance from port security officials
and alert employees. He noted that some port areas will be
remodeled and new construction undertaken in the near future to
improve port facilities and the ability to deal with the problems of
trafficking.

EASTMINCOM

7. (SBU) The DCM met with the new Eastern Mindanao Commander of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna, who
described the security challenges he faces in his area, which
includes all of mainland Mindanao, except for the Zamboanga
peninsula and the Sulu archipelago. Drawing on his experience as a
brigade commander in Central Mindanao, Luna pointed to the need to
develop the enormous Liguasan Marsh region, in which terrorists and
other lawless elements find refuge.

8. (SBU) General Luna praised the Balikatan exercises as a welcome
annual event whose public image has productively evolved from "war
games and beach-landings" to Civil-Military and Community Relations
events. When asked what military assets are needed to improve
EASTMINCOM's capability, Gen. Luna responded that EASTMINCOM would
benefit from more helicopters and small boats for use in operations
in the Liguasan Marsh of Central Mindanao. Similarly to other
current senior Philippine Commanders in Mindanao, Luna takes a
holistic approach to countering insurgents. He described the most
effective approach to the Communist New People's Army as placing
Philippine Special Operations soldiers inside key villages with
resources to conduct civil-military projects. Sensitive to the
political environment, Luna said that he could not support hosting a
full-time U.S. liaison officer from JSOTF-P, but he welcomed visits
to coordinate activities at his headquarters level. He was
enthusiastic about the U.S.-Philippines military relationship, and
related the high regard in which senior officers hold Ambassador
Kenney.


Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website: http://www.state.sgov.gov


KENNEY

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