Sep 152014
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-11-15 09:40
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 005346



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2015

¶B. MANILA 1401
¶C. MANILA 1151
¶D. MANILA 1086

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: About 40 leftist activists have been killed
in the Philippines so far in 2005. These killings, a jump
from the number recorded in 2004, come amid a flurry of
attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA), which have killed and
injured many. “Legal” left politicians and activists have
harshly criticized the attacks, asserting that the GRP is
“sponsoring” the killings. The government denies involvement
and says it is investigating. Mission continues to urge the
GRP to investigate each case thoroughly. The killings
highlight the high level of violence associated with the
long-running NPA insurgency, which has no end in sight. (See
forthcoming Septel review of the status of the NPA
insurgency.) End Summary.

40 Activists Reported Killed in 2005

¶2. (SBU) Killings of leftist activists in the Philippines,
perennially a matter of human rights concern, have spiked
this year. In March, Mission reported that gunmen had killed
up to 18 members of leftist groups since the beginning of
2005 (ref b). The leftist Bayan Muna party reported on
September 29 that 53 of its members have been killed since
2001, including ten members this year. According to the
left-wing labor movement Kilusan Mayo Uno (KMU), or “May
First Movement,” 33 of its activists have been killed this
year, as of mid-September. Since that date, at least six
more members of leftist parties (including three Bayan Muna
members) have been slain, bringing the total number of
activists killed this year — according to observers — to at
least 40. This compares to the figure of 10-20 activists who
were believed killed in all of 2004. (Note: Some of the
slain activists were members of groups believed to have links
with the NPA, while others were members of groups without
apparent links to the NPA. End Note.)

¶3. (U) The killings include two ministers of the United
Church of the Philippines (UCCP) who were associated with
leftist groups. The UCCP reports that there have been at
least seven other attacks on its members during the year.

¶4. (U) Details of some prominent incidents since ref b
(March 2005) follow:

— November 13: Ben Bajado, a local leftist, was killed in
Maydolong, Eastern Samar, in the central Visayas region.

— October 25: Unidentified assailants killed Ricardo Ramos,
the local leader of the sugar workers’ union at the Hacienda
Luisita plantation located in Tarlac Province, north of
Manila (see ref a).

— October 15: Two men on a motorcycle shot dead Florante
Collantes in Camiling town, Tarlac. He was Bayan Muna’s
General Secretary in Tarlac Province.

— October 2: Unknown persons shot dead Armandao Javier Jr.,
a leftist leader in central Luzon. Celia Esteban, a local
Bayan Muna leader in the same region, was also abducted and
later found dead.

— September 22: Two unidentified gunmen shot and killed
Diosdado Fortuna, local Chairman for the Kilusang Mayo Uno
(KMU) in Cabuyao, Laguna Province, located south of Manila.

— September 1: Two armed men on a motorcycle shot and
killed Norman Bocar, regional chairman of a leftist party, in
Borongan, Eastern Samar.

— August 20: Two armed men shot UCCP minister Rev. Raul
Domingo, a provincial officer of a leftist group, in Puerto
Princesa, Palawan Province, in the west of the country. He
died of his injuries on September 4.

— May 12: Assassins killed UCCP minister Rev. Edison Lapuz,
the former Bayan Muna coordinator for Eastern Visayas, in
Tacloban, Leyte Province, in the central Visayas region.

— May 8: Unidentified gunmen killed Ambrocio Matias, a
left-wing municipal coordinator in Nueva Ecija Province,
north of Manila.

Left Accuses GRP

¶5. (SBU) Leftist representatives in Congress and activists
publicly accuse the GRP of “sponsoring” the killings of the
activists. Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo has
described the attacks as “political repression masquerading
as counter-insurgency and antiterrorism operations.” Ocampo
and other leftist leaders have repeatedly urged national and
local authorities to ensure the safety of members of their
party and for the GRP to apprehend the perpetrators of the
attacks. On April 14, Ocampo tabled a resolution asking
President Arroyo “to take immediate steps to stop the
escalation of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances,
illegal arrests and harassment committed against leaders of
progressive party-list Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and
their allied organizations.” The resolution has not yet been
considered by the House.

GRP Reaction

¶6. (C) For its part, the GRP has asserted that it is
investigating the killings. On March 26, President Arroyo
stated in a press release that law enforcement agencies are
investigating the “alleged assassinations of Bayan Muna
leaders and other killings,” and asked persons with
information to come forward and help the authorities. The
GRP has issued few other public statements on the killings.
The October 25 killing of a well-known labor activist (see
para 4), however, prompted a press uproar; in response, the
chief of the Philippine National Police visited Tarlac and
the President’s spokesman promised a full investigation. Two
soldiers were questioned by police (ref a) and have now been
charged with murder — the first for any killings this year.

¶7. (C) Flora Atilano, the head of the Commission on Human
Right’s Legal and Investigation Division, acknowledged during
a recent meeting with poloff that a weak government
witness-protection mechanism (or at least ineffective
implementation of it) hinders thorough investigations of
these killings and potential prosecutions. The UCCP’s
national office in Manila also said that witnesses fearful
for their own safety were precluding any progress in cases
where UCCP members were killed.

Increasing NPA Violence

¶8. (SBU) The killings are taking place in the context of
increased violence between the Communists and the government.
Clashes between the NPA and the security forces appear to
have increased since exiled CPP leader Jose Maria Sison
announced in late September that the NPA would intensify its
attacks on government targets, apparently as part of its
drive to undermine the Arroyo administration by forcing her
to resign. (Note: In a further sign of increased tensions,
the GRP on October 5 formally canceled immunity guarantees
that it gave to 97 communist rebel negotiators for the second
time in three months, citing “aggressive” NPA activities and
difficulties in arranging peace talks. End Note.)

¶9. (U) During the first eight months of 2005
(January-August), the NPA killed 80 PNP and AFP personnel and
40 civilians, according to government figures. Major
incidents included:

— On June 13, NPA cadre killed nine soldiers of the 50th
Infantry Battalion and injured three others in an ambush in
the northern Luzon province of Ilocos Sur.

— During the last two weeks of September, at least seven NPA
rebels and three AFP soldiers were killed during separate
clashes in Aurora and Nueva Ecija Provinces in the
north/central Philippines. Separately, NPA rebels mounted
seven simultaneous attacks on government outposts in Surigao
del Sur and Agusan del Sur, provinces in Mindanao.

— On October 30, at least 10 NPA rebels were wounded in
clashes with the AFP in Surigao del Sur.

— On November 10, NPA rebels torched a public bus in Bataan
Province, located west of Manila, for not paying
“revolutionary” taxes.


¶10. (C) Mission continues to urge the GRP to investigate
each killing thoroughly. Unfortunately, the spate of
killings serves to highlight the high level of violence
associated with the long-running NPA insurgency, which has no
end in sight. (See forthcoming Septel review of the status
of the NPA insurgency.) As noted, the GRP says it is trying
to do its best, but it is the case that historically few
perpetrators of extrajudicial killings have ever been
arrested, much less convicted of crimes. Authorities, for
example, have not convicted anyone for the recent rash of
murders of journalists in the Philippines (ref c). The
killings of the left-wing activists could also have the
unfortunate consequence of driving the “legal” left
underground, which would only polarize the situation further
and lessen the chance that the left could be brought into the
political mainstream at any time soon.

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