Sep 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/06/06MANILA2273.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA2273 2006-06-01 06:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO3973
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2273/01 1520624
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 010624Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1232
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002273

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/01/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINS PREL SOCI RP
SUBJECT: ANATOMY OF AN EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING

REF: MANILA 2193 AND PREVIOUS

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

¶1. (C) Summary: During POL team’s recent visit to Puerto
Princesa, the capital of Palawan in the western Philippines,
contacts expressed their deep concern about the brazen
daytime killing of a well-known radio broadcaster and former
politician on May 22. GRP authorities arrested a serving
member of the local police force for the killing, but many
contacts assert that the Puerto Princesa mayor, a political
opponent of the victim’s, probably orchestrated the attack.
The slaying has clearly bred anger, fear and cynicism in
Palawan, highlighting in a microcosm the damage done by
extra-judicial killings on a national scale. End Summary.

————————-
Brazen Killing in Palawan
————————-

¶2. (U) Acting Pol/C and Senior POL LES visited Puerto
Princesa, the capital of Palawan, a large island located in
the western Philippines, May 24-26. During the visit, many
contacts expressed their deep concern about the killing of
popular radio broadcaster Fernando “Dong” Batul on May 22
(see reftel). Batul was killed on the way to work by several
gunmen in downtown Puerto Princesa in broad daylight as his
car rolled over a speed bump. Contacts told Acting Pol/C
that Batul, 36, was one of the most famous people in Palawan
— an area with about one million people — due to his
popular morning radio show on station DYPR called “Bastonero”
(meaning “one who whips”), which ran hard-hitting exposes on
political subjects and alleged corruption. He had also
served as vice mayor of Puerto Princesa from 2001-03.

¶3. (C) Catholic Bishop Pedro Arigo told Acting Pol/C on May
25 that he was “a good friend” of the slain broadcaster.
Batul, he said, had feared for his life in recent months
after receiving several threatening letters demanding that he
end his radio show. Batul did not reveal the full contents
of the letters, but he indicated that some were linked to his
on-air interview with a local leader of the communist New
People’s Army (NPA). A couple of weeks ago, Bishop Arigo
related, two unexploded grenades were found near Batul’s home
(where Batul, who was unmarried, lived with his mother).
Feeling that he was in danger, Batul planned to go on break
soon to Baguio City, but was killed before doing so. Gertie
Anda, the head of the Palawan Environmental Legal Assistance
Center, told Acting Pol/C on May 25 that she was also a
friend of Batul’s and had had “many nightmares” since his
killing. Noting that there had not been many such killings
in Palawan in the past, Anda remarked that “many people are
now afraid that they could be targeted and killed, too.”

—————–
Blaming the Mayor
—————–

¶4. (C) Many contacts blamed Mayor Edward Hagedorn, a
long-time politician with a thuggish image, for the killing.
The allegations about Hagedorn started almost immediately
after the slaying when Batul’s mother and sisters turned up
at the murder site and began to shout that Hagedorn was
responsible. Anda noted that Hagedorn has been a political
opponent of Batul’s and the subject of frequent criticism
from Batul on his radio program. Anda theorized (as did
other interlocutors) that Hagedorn (who is said to be very
thin-skinned) may have been so angered by the criticism that
he ordered the killing. During a May 25 meeting, Joel R.
Reyes, the Governor of Palawan and a political opponent of
Hagedorn’s, claimed that he had information which “might
establish” a link between Hagedorn and the killing, noting
that a police officer arrested for the crime (see below) had
served as a bodyguard for Hagedorn.

¶5. (C) Concerns about Hagedorn’s alleged involvement has
also drifted down to the public, with drivers of
three-wheeler taxis holding an anti-Hagedorn “noise barrage”
on May 24, while a crowd gathered at the main Catholic Church
denounced the attack and offered prayers for the victim. Two
businessmen told Acting Pol/C that “even if Hagedorn is not
proven to be linked to the crime, his political position has
been seriously damaged due to the suspicion.”

——————-
Arrest of Policeman
——————-

MANILA 00002273 002.2 OF 002

¶6. (SBU) In response to the press outcry over the killing,
Malacanang announced on May 24 that the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) was taking the lead in the criminal
investigation. On May 25, the NBI announced that it had
arrested Aaron Golifardo, an active duty member of the Puerto
Princesa Philippine National Police (PNP) force. The NBI had
arrested Golifardo on May 24 in Manila, where he had
allegedly flown right after committing the crime on May 22.
According to press reports, Golifardo had a long record of
infractions while a member of the PNP and had even been
linked to a murder in 2002. In allegedly killing Batul,
Golifardo reportedly may have been motivated by negative
comments that Batul had made about him on his radio program.
Golifardo is currently incarcerated in the NBI’s jail
facility in Puerto Princesa after being formally charged with
the crime on May 25. The NBI has announced that its
investigation is continuing and that it is trying to track
down other perpetrators of the attack. In meetings with GRP
officials in Puerto Princesa, Acting Pol/C underscored the
need for a full investigation of the crime, and the arrest
and trial of all perpetrators.

——-
Comment
——-

¶7. (C) Batul was a well-known and well-liked figure, and his
slaying has clearly roiled Palawan. While many contacts
believe that the local mayor is linked to the crime (a view
that involves conjecture), they do not believe he will face
serious scrutiny because of his influence, which includes a
close relationship with Malacanang. This has bred cynicism
toward the political and legal system. Batul’s slaying
highlights in a microcosm the damage done by extra-judicial
killings on a national scale in the Philippines. Very few
suspects have been caught and prosecuted for the rash of
killings of leftist activists, journalists, and alleged
criminals over recent years. This, in turn, has led to
serious questions about the rule of law and the fairness and
effectiveness of the country’s law enforcement system.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

Kenney

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.