Sep 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09MANILA1363.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1363
2009-06-29 11:07
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHML #1363/01 1801107
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291107Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4506
INFO RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANILA 001363

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS AND CA/ACS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2019
TAGS: ASEC CASC PHUM PTER RP
SUBJECT: AMCIT IN ALLEGED ABDUCTION TO SUE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT IN U.S. COURT

REF: MANILA 1113 (ALLEGED AMCIT ABDUCTION AND RELEASE)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney,
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a story widely covered by the Philippine
press, an American citizen who claimed to have been abducted
by Philippine security forces (reftel) said at a June 27 Los
Angeles press conference that she would file a lawsuit
against Philippine officials through a U.S. federal court and
would also file a complaint with the U.S. State Department.
When the alleged victim, Melissa Roxas, first made her
charges public in Manila May 25, Mission was able to confirm
with her by phone that she was in a safe location and did not
require Mission assistance. The FBI Los Angeles Field Office
is in communication with Roxas, who has since returned to the
U.S., and will attempt to interview her the week of June 29.
In addition to the legal case she intends to file in the
U.S., Roxas has sought protection from possible retribution
by Philippine officials through a petition filed and approved
by the Philippine Supreme Court, though Philippine goQrnment
officials deny any involvement by security forces in theQalleged abduction. Mission sources indicate that one of the
two Filipino companions allegedly abducted alongside Roxas,
who is known to be a member of the communist rebel group New
People’s Army, has charges against him for crimes committed
in 2006. END SUMMARY.Q
EMBASSY OFFERS ASSISTANCE TO ROXAS
———————————-

¶2. (SBU) An American citizen who claims she was abducted and
released in May by Philippine security forces (reftel) stated
in a June 27 Los Angeles press conference that she would seek
damages from the Philippine government through a U.S. federal
court. American Citizens Services (ACS) learned of the
alleged abduction of the AmCit, Melissa Roxas, through press
reports on May 26. Roxas is a member of the U.S. affiliate
of the Philippine leftist organization “Bayan” (or “New
Patriotic Alliance”), a vocal, anti-U.S. political group
which routinely criticizes the Philippine government for
human rights abuses and for its receipt of U.S. military
assistance.

¶3. (SBU) Attempts by ACS to speak by telephone to Roxas on
that day were unsuccessful; a woman by the name of Cristina
Gonzales, who identified herself as Roxas’ cousin, would not
allow the ACS Chief to speak directly to Roxas. On May 27,
the ACS Chief finally spoke by telephone with a person who
identified herself as Melissa Roxas; the woman said that she
was in good physical condition and that she felt safe at a
relative’s home. Roxas said she did not want to discuss the
abduction because she was traumatized, and noted that she was
making arrangements to return to the U.S. as soon as
possible. The ACS Chief offered to put Roxas in touch with
Embassy security officers — either via phone or in person,
at her family’s residence — to discuss concerns about her
personal safety, but she declined the offer. In a separate
conversation that day with LEGATT’s Crime Victims Assistance
representative, Roxas also declined to provide an affidavit
about her experience but agreed to speak to the FBI upon her
return to the U.S. The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office has
since communicated with Roxas via telephone and is attempting
to set up a time to obtain her statement about the case
during the week of June 29.

ROXAS SEEKS PHILIPPINE COURT’S PROTECTION
—————————————–

¶4. (SBU) Before returning to the U.S., Roxas filed a petition
June 1 with the Philippine Supreme Court for a protective
writ known as a “writ of amparo,” which compels government
offices to protect the constitutional rights of citizens,
particularly in cases ofQisappearances or torture, and to
produce certain information relatQto these cases. The
Supreme Court granted Roxas’ petition on June 9, ordering the
Armed Forces of the Philippines to comment on the alleged
abduction. Roxas’ petition also seeks to protect her from 11
individuals, including President Arroyo, Defense Secretary
Qdoro, and the military and police chiefs. Press reports
noted that a judge from the Court of Appeals charged with the
petition’s follow-on hearing questioned the utility of the
writ, given that Roxas had already returned to the U.S. and
was therefore outside Philippine jurisdiction, although
Roxas’ attorney in the Philippines said she was wilQng to
return to the Philippines to pursue her case. For its
scheduled June 29 hearing, the Appeals Court requested the
presence of the two companions allegedly abducted alongside
Roxas who could be witnesses for the petition, although their

present whereabouts are unknown (see para 7).

ROXAS’ ATTORNEY OUTLINES LEGAL STRATEGY
—————————————

¶5. (C) In a June 27 press conference statement from
Washington, D.C., another of Roxas’ attorneys, Arnedo Valera,
said that there were numerous legal options at her disposal
to hold the Philippine military and government accountable
for her purported kidnapping and torture, including the
filing of a tort action in U.S. federal courts for damages.
Violation of international human rights law, he asserted,
would also constitute a violation of U.S. domestic law and
could provide additional grounds for a case. Roxas could
also seek a special UN investigation or file a complaint with
the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and
Labor. While a creative attorney could file a case in a U.S.
federal court, it remains to be seen what specific
individuals would be named in a lawsuit, or if they would be
the same top officials named in the petition for the writ of
amparo.

PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT DENIES ALLEGATIONS, INVESTIGATES
——————————————— ———

¶6. (SBU) The Philippine government denied the allegations
that its security forces were involved in the abduction of
Roxas and her two companions. Philippine State Solicitor
Bernardo Villar, who was seeking dismissal of the writ of
amparo petition, said that the abduction of Roxas and her two
companions was a “stage-managed event to achieve spectacular
and theatrical results” to damage the reputation of the
Philippine government and earn “political capital.”
Malacanang Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told reporters June
29 that the government was prepared to face the allegations
made by Roxas and to cooperate with investigations. An Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson denied any AFP
involvement in the alleged abduction, saying that the AFP
“initiated a probe upon learning of the issue last month, and
our investigation showed that the (AFP) in Tarlac was not
responsible for anything that happened to Ms. Roxas.” The
spokesperson welcomed efforts by Roxas to engage the U.S.
State Department and the UN, calling it an “opportunity to
clarify that the AFP has nothing to do with her alleged
torture and abduction.”

POSSIBLE NPA TIES TO OTHER ABDUCTION VICTIMS
——————————————–

¶7. (C) Two companions allegedly abducted May 19 alongside
Roxas, John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo, also members
of Bayan, were reportedly released by their captors, but
their whereabouts remain unknown. Philippine police
officials earlier told RSO that both Jandoc and Carabeo were
allegedly members of the NPA and that Jandoc had not been
heard from since his disappearance from the Bataan area ten
years ago (reftel). Mission sources inQate that Carabeo
has charges pending against him from 2006 for arson and
attempted assassination as an NPA member.

COMMENT
——-

¶8. (C) Roxas’ decision to discuss her alleged abduction
experience with the press will reinforce Philippine
government beliefs that Roxas and the Bayan organization —
and their other supporters in the “Justice for Melissa Roxas
Campaign” — are seeking to garner political capital from
Roxas’ story. Leaders of Bayan, which the Philippine
government privately calls a “front group” for the NPA’s
communist insurgency, have repeatedly criticized ongoing
cooperation between the Philippine and U.S. militaries, and
appear to be using the alleged Roxas abduction in an attempt
to draw connections between U.S. military aid and human
rights abuses by Philippine forces, with the apparent goal of
ending U.S. financial support for the Philippine military
altogether. Post agencies, including LEGATT, Department of
Justice, and ACS, will continue to monitor developments in
this case.

KENNEY

   

 

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