Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/01/08MANILA154.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA154
2008-01-18 08:40
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5805
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0154/01 0180840
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180840Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9447
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000154

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2018
TAGS: PTER PREL KISL RP
SUBJECT: CATHOLIC PRIEST SLAIN IN APPARENT KIDNAPPING ON TAWI-TAWI

Classified By: DCM Paul W. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The murder of a Catholic priest and
abduction of a school principal and fisherman in Tawi-Tawi, a
remote island along a terrorist transit line in the southern
Philippines, has sent shock waves through this usually
peaceful island. Security officials believe a group of 10
armed kidnappers wearing masks were responsible for the
crime, and have little clear information regarding the
identities and motives of the perpetrators. While some
officials and civilians are alleging that the Abu Sayyaf
terrorist organization was responsible, there is no firm
evidence to substantiate the claims. In addition, there are
conflicting reports about when and where the priest died
during the abduction. What is clear is that the killing and
kidnapping have drawn strong condemnation from all sectors of
society, irrespective of religion. As interfaith mourning
continues over this latest incident of violence and
bloodshed, Philippine security officials are widening their
dragnet to bring the perpetrators to justice and the hostages
safely home. End Summary.

——————————————— ——–
Priest Slain, School Principal and Fisherman Abducted
——————————————— ——–

¶2. (SBU) Catholic priest Father Jesus Reynaldo A. Roda, a
member of the Oblates of the Mary Immaculate Catholic
Congregation (OMI), was shot to death January 15 during an
apparent kidnapping at the Notre Dame School in Tawi-Tawi, a
remote island in the southern Philippines. According to
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Police Chief
Superintendent Joel Goltiao, the group of about 10 suspected
kidnappers was armed and wore masks and hoods to conceal
their identities. Philippine security forces are now
searching for the suspects, who fled the area after taking
Notre Dame School principal Omar Taup and fisherman Hussin
Sahirul hostage.

——————-
Conflicting Reports
——————-

¶3. (SBU) There are conflicting accounts from police
officials and civilians regarding Father Roda’s murder. ARMM
Police Chief Goltiao said Father Roda was shot to death
during a gunbattle between law enforcement authorities and
his abductors while being forcibly taken to a speedboat, one
kilometer away from the Notre Dame campus. In Father Ramon
Bernabe’s version of the crime, Father Roda was killed while
struggling with his abductors in the chapel where he was
praying. The abductors then stole some valuables from Roda’s
office before taking Omar Taup hostage and fleeing the
campus, said Bernabe. According to press reports, one
witness claimed to have seen the armed men beat Roda before
killing him.

——————————————
Abu Sayyaf Group Members Possible Suspects
——————————————

¶4. (C) Former Tawi-Tawi Councilman Ramon Salapuddin said
that Father Roda and Omar Taup were vocal critics of graft,
corruption, and terrorism. Salapuddin suspected that
“sympathizers” of the Abu Sayyaf Group, a terrorist
organization from Jolo, may have been responsible for the
murder and kidnapping.

¶5. (SBU) A relative of hostage Omar Taup — Tawi-Tawi Police
Superintendent Wyneright Taup — claimed Father Roda received
kidnapping threats from the Abu Sayyaf Group prior to the
January 15 incident. Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt.
Gen. Nelson Allaga told the press that a former policeman was
believed to be among Roda’s killers. The Philippine National
Police and National Bureau of Investigation are coordinating
their investigative efforts to identify the perpetrators.

——————————————— —
Muslim and Christian Leaders Condemn the Killing
——————————————— —

¶6. (SBU) Notre Dame School director and head of mission of
OMI in Tawi-Tawi, Father Roda had been a long-time advocate
of peace and development in Mindanao. Muslim and Christian
leaders throughout the Philippines were quick to denounce his
murder. House Deputy Speaker Simeon Datumanong and Peace
Process Undersecretary Nabil Tan called the killing
“un-Islamic and senseless.” Autonomous Region in Muslim

MANILA 00000154 002 OF 002

Mindanao Regional Governor Zaldy Ampatuan described the
murder as “a satanic act and an affront to both Islam and
Christianity.” According to the Philippine Council for Islam
and Democracy, the slaying was “a barbaric attack against
those who dedicate their lives for peace.” Catholic Bishops
Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Angel
Lagdameo said that “we condemn the violence and pray for a
just solution.”

———————————————
MILF and MNLF Denounce Killing of Father Roda
———————————————

¶7. (SBU) Senior members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) are also
denouncing this latest incident of violence and bloodshed
which came on the heels of peace rallies in cities across
Mindanao. MILF Da’wah (Call to Islam) Committee Chairman
Sheikh Mohammad Muntassir said that “we condemn this killing
in the highest possible terms and the killers deserve Hell
for their barbaric act.” According to MNLF Secretary-General
Muslimin Sema, the death of Father Roda was a “a great loss
to peace advocates and fighters against oppression and
exploitation.” MNLF Secretary-General Abu Abuamri Taddik has
directed MNLF members on Tawi-Tawi to monitor the incident.

——————————
Outpouring of Interfaith Grief
——————————

¶8. (SBU) Hundreds of Muslims and Christians filled the Holy
Rosary Church in the Tawi-Tawi capital city of Bongao January
17 to pay their last respects to Father Roda. His remains
will be brought to Cotabato City for burial at the OMI
cemetery in Shariff Kabunsuan Province on January 23.

——————————–
Other Priests Allegedly Targeted
——————————–

¶9. (SBU) According to Philippine Army Major-General Nejemias
Pajarito, the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions were
warned that four members of its religious order in Mindanao
were targeted for abduction. Despite these warnings, the
Italian religious order has decided to stay.

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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