Cablegate: Philippines: Looking Ahead to the Trilateral


DE RUEHML #2130/01 2560914
O 120914Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 84610

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Embassy Manila provides the following for
use with the upcoming Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) to
be held in Washington. The Philippine government has been an
active partner in trilateral and bilateral counterterrorism
cooperation, and continues to achieve significant progress in
combating terrorist elements including Abu Sayyaf Group
(ASG), Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI), and the New People's Army
(NPA). Pursuant to reftel, post provides herewith an update
on trilateral counterterrorism efforts in the Philippines, as
well as an outline of bilateral CT cooperation which may be
relevant to future trilateral collaboration in the four
proposed programmatic-themed working groups. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) During 2007, the Philippine government welcomed a
proposal by the governments of Australia, Japan, and the
United States to enhance the security of two ports in
southern Mindanao: Davao and General Santos City. With the
approval of the Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), a
team of experts from the trilateral partners' embassies
conducted a needs assessment of the two ports and Davao
International Airport May 7-10, 2007, and provided the
results of this assessment in September. Following several
months of analysis, the Philippine government in March
concurred with the results of the assessment.

3. (SBU) Following on the successful completion of the ports
assessment, officers from the three partner embassies met in
January to discuss ways to improve cooperation with the
Philippine government in the prosecution of terrorist
suspects. Most recently, trilateral partner embassies have
contributed to a joint matrix showing each embassy's
completed and planned counterterrorism activities; this will
ultimately result in a comprehensive new workplan to build on
the lessons learned from the Ports Pilot Project (PPP).


4. (SBU) Post's Economic Section oversees the U.S.
Department of State, Bureau of International Security and
Nonproliferation, Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction
(ISN/CTR) Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP), which was
launched in 2006 to address the threat of bioterrorism.
Three factors make Southeast Asia a priorty for BEP: a
burgeoning biotechnology industry, a high rate of endemic
tropical infectious diseases such as Avian Influenza (AI) and
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and the established
presence of transnational terrorist groups. Post has engaged
the Philippine Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal
Industry (DA/BAI) in BEP-organized workshops, as well as
surveillance and diagnostics training. Activities of
upgrading laboratories and creating pathogen-monitoring
systems are ongoing with the Philippine Department of Health
(DOH) and the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine
(RITM). In October, we anticipate the transfer of
animal-incinerator equipment that will upgrade Philippine
animal laboratories; post will facilitate corresponding
technical consultations and training.

--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) In August, Post's Public Affairs Section hosted the
Syrian-American Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat of Baltimore,
Maryland, who led discussions on the importance of interfaith
dialogue, addressing both Christian and Muslim audiences on
the theme of "Muslim and Christian relations: Obstacles and
Opportunities." In addition to media interviews and talks at
universities, city governments, and houses of worship, Imam
Arafat reached audiences in Mindanao via digital
videoconference. In July, Post's Anti-Terrorism Assistance
(ATA) unit coordinated a week-long course in "Mitigating
Prison Inmate Radicalization" in which 30 officers and staff
from the Philippine Bureau of Corrections participated.

--------------------------------------------- -------

6. (SBU) ICITAP-Provided Training: During the past year,
post's ICITAP office has overseen the inauguration of the
first-ever USG-funded police training on Jolo Island, an area
often considered on the front lines of the Philippines' fight
against Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI)
terrorist elements. The six-month training program has

enhanced the capacity of Philippine National Police (PNP)
officers who are increasingly called on to assume
public-security functions that have hertofore been the
responsibility of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
in conflict-affected areas. Successful completion of the
Model Police Station (MPS) program included two stations in
Mindanao (Zamboanga and Marawi); the project involved
training and development in 14 critical law enforcement
subjects. Although the MPS program is not specifically
counterterrorism in focus, the training it entails in such
areas as crime scene exploitation, evidence handling, and
others will support the apprehension and prosecution of
terrorist elements.

7. (SBU) Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance:
Post's Anti-Terrorism Assistance (DS/ATA) Program Manager
oversees a broad variety of CT training, including courses in
Interdicting Terrorist Activity, Explosive Incident
Countermeasures, Post-Blast Investigation, Advanced Computer
Forensics, and Cellphone Forensics. During the past year,
PNP officers of appropriate ranks have also been dispatched
to participate in ILEA-Bangkok courses that included "A
Police Executive's Role in Combating Terrorism," "Combating
Domestic and Transnational Terrorism," and "Fraudulent Travel
Documents." ATA coordinated an eight-month program of
training at Front Royal, Virginia, for Philippine handlers
and vets of bomb-detection dogs, and funded the provision of
trained dogs, kennels and veterinary facilities, plus
necessary furnishings and supplies.

8. (SBU) Philippine Biometric Initiative: DHS/ICE Attache
has developed the Philippine Biometric Initiative, a program
focused on identifying "not-yet-known" terrorists by
collecting fingerprints, photographs, and rap sheets of
suspected terrorists in PNP custody. Forty-two Biometric
Data Collection Kits (BDCKs) were purchased with support from
the Joint Interagency Task Force-West (JIATF-W), and placed
with local PNP stations in selected areas. In April, DHS/ICE
Attache conducted training for 89 PNP and Bureau of Jail
Management and Penology personnel in subjects that included
maintenance of BDCKs, fingerprinting, computer processing of
digital photos, encryption of files, as well as computer and
communications security. As of August 1, biometric data for
100 suspected terrorists have been obtained.

9. (SBU) Terrorist Finance: Embassy's Economic Section has
the lead on all terrorist-finance issues, and coordinates
efforts by Treasury, Justice, FBI, and other USG agencies in
assisting Philippine counterpart agencies in efforts to
locate, freeze, and seize the assets of designated terrorist
organizations and individuals. The Economic Section's
Terrorism Finance Coordination Officer also assists the
Philippine government with its own terrorist designations
under UNSCR 1267, including, most recently, the Rajah Soliman
Movement (RSM).


10. (SBU) Coastwatch South and Related Programs: The
Coastwatch South (CWS) program continues to move toward full
implementation. When completed, CWS will include 12-17
coastal radar sites connected by a string of air, ocean
surface, and ground surveillance and interdiction assets,
covering the vast sea-lane approaches to Davao, Sarangani,
and the Sulu Archipelago, in what has been called the
"Terrorist Transit Triangle." With FY2008 NDAA Section 1206
Funds, the USG will supply via JUSMAG four coastal radar
stations and the equipment necessary to get CWS headquarters
up and running at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga. JUSMAG has
requested four additional radar stations under FY2009 1206
Funds, and the Philippine government is constructing an
additional station on Taganak Island, off the coast of Sabah
(Malaysian Borneo) in the Philppines' remote Turtle Islands.

11. (SBU) Additional equipment being supplied to the
Philippine Navy in support of CWS includes six 7-meter
Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), four 11-meter RHIB
boats, together with storage facilities, trailers, spare
engines, crew-served weapons, radios, GPS, night-vision
devices, and other supporting equipment. The Philippine
Navy's Islander surveillance aircraft will be equipped with
Forward-Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) pods. Under FY2009
1206 Funds, JUSMAG has requested Zodiac boat packages for the
Philippine Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) and
CENTRIX Secure Information Exchange technology for CWS

12. (SBU) Special Boats Unit: ICITAP is moving ahead with
the Special Boat Unit for PNP Maritime Police in Puerto
Princesa, Palawan province's capital city which lies on the
Sulu Sea. The Sulu Sea is well known as a crossroads for
movement of terrorists, undocumented aliens and victims of
trafficking, as well as illicit firearms and other smuggled
goods. The Special Boat Unit will entail the provision of
five specially-built police boats, as well as construction of
dock facilities, an office building, and boathouse. This
project, the completion of which is anticipated for March
2009, will greatly enhance the ability of police to interdict
the transit of criminal and terrorist elements and illicit

13. (SBU) Megaports Program: The objective of this program,
overseen by the Embassy's Economics Section, is to detect
radioactive materials that could be smuggled into or out of
the country by terrorists to make weapons of mass
destruction. The program features large-scale
radiation-inspection monitors through which trucks carrying
shipping containers must pass. In July 2005, the U.S.
Department of Energy (USDOE) signed an Agreement with the
Philippine Department of Science and Technology to implement
the program at two ports: Manila's South Harbor and the
Manila International Container Terminal (MICT); construction
of the portals was completed in March 2008. With the
cooperation of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA),
Philippine Customs, and the ports' private operators, USDOE
has trained a Philippine interagency team in the use and
maintenance of the equipment, which is now operational.

14. (SBU) Post's point of contact for the TSD CT
consultations is Political Officer Philip Thompson: phone
(63-2) 301-2583; fax: (63-2) 301-2472; E-mail:

© Scoop Media

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