Sep 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/07/09MANILA1569.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1569
2009-07-24 09:04
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5357
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1569/01 2050904
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240904Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4723
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001569

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2019
TAGS: ASEC CASC PHUM PTER RP
SUBJECT: AMCIT RETURNS TO PHILIPPINES TO TESTIFY ON ALLEGED ABDUCTION

REF: A. MANILA 1363 (AMCIT IN ALLEGED ABDUCTION TO SUE
PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT IN U.S. COURT)
¶B. MANILA 1113 (ALLEGED AMCIT ABDUCTION AND RELEASE)

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: AmCit social activist Melissa Roxas
returned to the Philippines this week to participate in
hearings at the Commission on Human Rights and Court of
Appeals on her alleged May abduction and torture in Tarlac
Province by persons she believed to be government security
forces. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which is
providing security for her visit, received her testimony July
23 as part of its own investigation; Roxas’ next testimony
will be given July 30 at the Court of Appeals as part of her
effort to obtain a protective writ from the Court. A member
of the U.S. affiliate of the Philippines-based Bayan leftist
group, Roxas refused Philippine police and U.S. Embassy
assistance after being released by her alleged captors on May
25 (reftel B), and in Los Angeles, later canceled a meeting
with FBI agents to provide an official affidavit. The
Philippine government and military deny responsibility for
her alleged abduction, and officials have publicly agreed to
cooperate with investigations. The activist’s return to
Manila and her high-profile press conferences are giving
anti-Arroyo administration groups a platform for their causes
at a time when the rest of the country is paying close
attention to the news: President Arroyo will deliver her
final State of the Nation Address on July 27, and will then
travel to Washington for a July 30 meeting at the White House
and a July 31 meeting with U.S. Attorney General Holder. END
SUMMARY.

ROXAS RETURNS TO THE PHILIPPINES
——————————–

¶2. (SBU) Melissa Roxas, a Filipino-American activist who
accused government security forces of abducting and torturing
her over seven days in late May (reftel B), returned to
Manila July 21 to attend two hearings at the Commission on
Human Rights (CHR) and the Court of Appeals on July 23 and
30, respectively. At the July 23 CHR hearing, Roxas
discussed the manner of her abduction and captivity, and
attempted to give descriptions of her captors. Next week,
the Court of Appeals will review her petition for a
protective writ, known as a writ of amparo, which if granted
will require government officials to produce information
about the abduction (reftel A). In remarks to the press,
Roxas said she returned to the Philippines to pursue the case
against her abductors and to “reveal the truth” about the
incident. Press reports noted that a 10-member delegation of
the United Methodist Church’s California Nevada Conference
accompanied Roxas back to the Philippines to conduct its own
investigation.

GOVERNMENT AGREES TO COOPERATE, DENIES INVOLVEMENT
——————————————— ——-

¶3. (SBU) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of
Staff General Victor Ibrado said that the AFP would conduct
its own investigation into the alleged abduction of Roxas and
would cooperate with other investigations, though he
indicated there was no evidence of military involvement in
the incident. Malacanang Palace Executive Secretary Eduardo
Ermita told press that the government was committed to
investigating the case, and that Roxas’ testimony at the CHR
and the Court of Appeals would help with that investigation.

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION NOTIFIES AMBASSADOR
——————————————-

¶4. (C) Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Leila De Lima
notified the Ambassador July 18 of Roxas’ intended return.
In a follow-up July 21 conversation, De Lima said that the
CHR, though unaccustomed to doing so, agreed to provide
protection for Roxas so that the Commission’s own
investigation could continue. De Lima gently probed whether
the U.S. Embassy would be able to provide protection for
Roxas. The Ambassador said this kind of arrangement was not
possible, and said that Embassy officials told Roxas before
her mid-June return to Los Angeles that the U.S. could not
offer personal protection if she decided to return to the
Philippines, though they did offer to help her contact the
Philippine National Police. De Lima said the CHR had
likewise offered assistance through the police, but said that
Roxas refused. Recounting her experience of greeting Roxas
upon her July 21 arrival in Manila, De Lima expressed some
surprise that Representative Satur Ocampo, co-founder of the
communist group National Democratic Front of the Philippines,

MANILA 00001569 002 OF 002

was also on hand to greet Roxas. The Ambassador thanked the
CHR for looking after the safety of Roxas, and said that the
U.S. takes seriously all incidents involving U.S. citizens,
adding that thoughtful investigation seemed the best course
of action in this case.

U.S. OFFICIALS ATTEMPT TO OBTAIN AFFIDAVIT
——————————————

¶5. (C) Post’s Legatt said that, after Roxas’ mid-June return
to Los Angeles, agents at the FBI Los Angeles Field Office
attempted to contact her on June 28 to set an appointment to
obtain her affidavit. Unable to reach her by phone, agents
visited her house and met her parents to relay the message
regarding their availability for a meeting. Roxas and her
attorney finally contacted the FBI on June 29 and agreed to
an afternoon meeting, but Roxas canceled shortly thereafter.
A second attorney called the FBI on June 30 and offered to
invite the agents to a meeting with Roxas at his office
before July 12, but the attorney did not call again to offer
a specific date. The first attorney later told the FBI that
Roxas was too emotionally distraught to talk about her
experience with anyone, and that was why she had not yet
agreed to a meeting.

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) Bayan, its U.S. affiliate Bayan-USA, and other
anti-Arroyo administration groups appear eager to use Melissa
Roxas’ return to Manila as an opportunity to bring both
domestic and international attention not just to her alleged
abduction but, more generally, to human rights and social
issues in the Philippines. The highly publicized case has
the potential to embarrass President Arroyo in advance of the
July 27 State of the Nation Address — the last of her
presidency — and her highly anticipated July 30 meeting with
President Obama, which will be followed by a meeting with
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Roxas claimed emotional
distress in declining repeated offers in May and June by U.S.
Embassy and FBI officials to discuss her case and file an
affidavit, but has shown emotional fearlessness in pursuing a
voluntary, widely-publicized return to the Philippines that
has all the ingredients of a protracted — and acrimonious —
human rights investigation that could continue long after the
end of President Arroyo’s term.

KENNEY

   

 

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