WikiLeaks releases 3,071 new cables on Philippines

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Aug 25 2011 10:32 PM | Updated as of Aug 26 2011 11:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Whistleblower group WikiLeaks on Thursday night released more than 3,000 diplomatic cables on the Philippines that were sent by the US embassy in Manila and other diplomatic posts.

The cables are the largest batch so far, eclipsing the 33 published the previous day.

WikiLeaks has vowed to release more than 35,000 unpublished cables from US diplomatic missions worldwide.

The group said it suffered a sustained denial-of-service attack and was relying on backup servers after dumping the new cables.

Similar to the cables posted Wednesday, most of the 3,071 new documents on the Philippines were tagged "unclassified/for official use only" and were coursed through SIPDIS, the secret data distribution network used by the US Department of Defense and the State Department.

Many of the memos carried the advisory, "This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please protect accordingly."

They show US diplomatic officials' analysis and interest on current events in the Philippines, as well as Manila's views on international concerns.

Arroyo's corruption maelstrom

While it may take days before one reads and analyzes all of the diplomatic memos, their common denominator is the view of American officials stationed in the Philippines during the presidency of now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The contents of some of the cables highlight the maelstrom that Arroyo faced while she was chief executive.

One cable, 05MANILA2359, discussed the scandal that linked the husband and son of Arroyo to illegal gambling, or jueteng.

The memo, dated  May 23, 2005, said all that it would take then to oust Arroyo from power then "is for one credible witness -- like Governor Chavit Singsong [sic] in the Estrada case -- to go public."

"However, there is little enthusiasm for a new impeachment process that could constitutionally bump up Vice President Noli De Castro as President, despite a fairly widespread belief in elite circles that the Arroyos are indeed directly linked to jueteng payoffs," it added.

"The likelihood either of stamping out or legalizing jueteng remains low; too many powerful people benefit," said the embassy cable sent by then Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph A. Mussomeli.

The lack of a replacement for Arroyo during her terms of office was echoed in a cable labelled 05MANILA3045 that was sent by Mussomeli July 1, 2005.

"[T]he business community appears to remain mostly supportive of her, likely because there are no alternative economic plans from other potential leaders that would better address business concerns," it said.

Another cable, 05MANILA3231 that was created 12 days later, said the political opposition and Philippine society failed to reach a tipping point that could have ousted Arroyo.

"[T]he anti-GMA momentum seems to have fizzled following the decision of Catholic Bishops not to support a call for Arroyo's resignation," it said.

Cable 06MANILA1569, sent by the US embassy in Manila April 7,2006, also predicted that Arroyo won't follow the route taken by ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Cable 09MANILA2458 sent November 25, 2009 stated that Arroyo said that like all developing countries, the Philippines faces a challenge in stamping out corruption.  

"Her government is working to combat corruption, but the scale of the problem is exaggerated by the very free press (with which she does not want to interfere)," the embassy memo said, quoting Arroyo.