Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/05/06MANILA1981.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1981 2006-05-09 07:04 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO7905
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1981/01 1290704
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090704Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0898
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001981

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, EAP/PD
NSC FOR H. MORROW

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PINS KPAO ASEC RP
SUBJECT: ARAGONCILLO GUILTY PLEA ANNOUNCEMENT NETS BIG PRESS PLAY

REF: 05 MANILA 4809

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) Summary: The May 4 USDOJ announcement that former
FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo pleaded guilty to espionage
and other charges received significant press play in the
Philippines. GRP reaction was basically restrained, mixed
with some chortling over the Opposition’s predicament
(several key Opposition figures are entwined in the case as
alleged recipients of classified information provided by
Aragoncillo). Those listed as unnamed “co-conspirators” by
the USDOJ, including former president Estrada and one of his
sons, have been put on the defensive by the announcement.
Some Filipinos have reacted by claiming that the USDOJ
announcement was purely “a U.S. matter.” End Summary.

¶3. (U) A Big News Story: The May 4 USDOJ announcement that
former FBI analyst Leandro Aragoncillo has pleaded guilty to
espionage and other charges has received significant press
play in the Philippines, including coverage on radio and
television. Since Saturday, May 6, the story has earned
front-page coverage in most of the Philippines’ newspapers.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s banner headline on May 6
stated, “Aragoncillo admits spying for GMA foes: Erap, Ping
named co-plotters in bid to oust Gloria.” (Note: “Erap” is
the nickname of former president Joseph Estrada and “Ping”
the nickname of Senator Panfilo Lacson. End Note.)
Meanwhile, the Philippine Star’s front-page headline
declared, “Palace: Espionage a shameful act.” Many of the
articles also mentioned the case of Michael Ray Aquino, a
former Philippine National Police official, who was among
those who Aragoncillo specifically identified as a
“co-conspirator” in the transfer of classified documents and
information. By May 9, the case had also become a subject of
a slew of editorials and op-eds (a selection of such
commentaries is being sent septel).

¶4. (U) GRP Reaction: Press Secretary and Presidential
Spokesperson Ignacio Bunye said on May 6 that the admission
by Aragoncillo that he passed classified information to
certain politicians in the Philippines proved “beyond doubt a
conspiracy to oust the President; and that those involved
include prominent officials who have caused embarrassment to
the country by their actions.” He described Aragoncillo’s
admission as a “shameful act of a political cabal” which
justifies the “vigilance” of the GRP to protect its national
security and survival. He added that Malacanang expects more
information to come out about links between Aragoncillo and
Opposition political figures as the case unfolds. Bunye
added that the GRP would steer “a careful course given the
sensitive issues at stake, including relations with the U.S.

¶5. (U) Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was quoted as
stating that the Aragoncillo announcement could strengthen
the cases of “rebellion” against personalities involved in
alleged plots to oust the President, a point also made
publicly by Solicitor General Eduardo Nachura. Ermita added
that the government would take (unspecified) action based on
its own laws and legal procedure, while it respects U.S.
processes. Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor said
the apparent involvement of Opposition leaders in the
Aragoncillo espionage case may be a basis for filing treason
and rebellion charges against them. Justice Secretary Raul
Gonzales said the GRP would turn over Filipino politicians
involved in the espionage case if they were indicted by the
USG and if the U.S. government files an extradition request.
He also said the Department of Justice was coordinating with
Department of Foreign Affairs officials to secure copies of
Aragoncillo’s plea for possible use in Philippine courts.

¶6. (SBU) A Defensive Crouch: Former president Joseph
Estrada and his son Mayor J.V. Ejercito downplayed the
admission by Aragoncillo that the latter passed classified
information to Philippine Opposition members seeking to oust
President Arroyo. Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was in Kenya
at a conference, was quoted as stating that he could not say
if he should worry about Aragoncillo’s guilty plea, as he was
not facing any charges in the U.S. He described Secretary
Gonzalez’s declaration that the GRP would cooperate with the
U.S. on any extradition requests involving Opposition members
allegedly involved in the case as “virtually
feeding…compatriots to the lions.” In a May 8 meeting, a

MANILA 00001981 002 OF 002

ranking Opposition figure (not involved in the Aragoncillo
matter) told us that he had met with former president Estrada
after the story broke on May 6 and that he (Estrada) was
“very anxious” about USG intentions in the case.

¶7. (U) “A U.S. Matter”: Senator Joker Arroyo, a prominent
senator who has tried in the past to steer a path between
Palace and Opposition forces, has called for “moderation”
from all parties, urging Malacanang to back off from any
effort to try to implicate Estrada and others in the
Aragoncillo case for political gain. He asserted that no
Philippine law was violated and the government has no role in
the case (it was “a U.S. matter”). Senator Arroyo also urged
the GRP to play a passive role as the case continues to
unfold. Several columnists in the Philippine Star struck the
same note on May 9 when they claimed that the case was a
matter of U.S. law and a USG concern which did not require
GRP involvement in any way at this time.

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

   

 

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