Sep 242014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA3346 2006-08-09 07:12 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
DE RUEHML #3346/01 2210712
O 090712Z AUG 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003346



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2016


Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary. At least some NGO and party activists in
Central Luzon are scaling back their rural activities in
response to an increased number of extrajudicial killings
(EJKs). Some place the blame for the recent rise in EJKs
squarely on the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines (AFP). Local government officials and the
Philippine National Police (PNP) agree that there is a rise
in EJKs, but attribute this to increased Communist Party of
the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) activity in the
region. The Catholic Church is trying to play an active role
in documenting EJKs, while the regional Commission on Human
Rights has severe resource constraints. EJKs often reflect a
pervasive “culture of impunity” that too often protects
wayward provincial government authorities or local crime
lords. End Summary.

Running scared

¶2. (C) According to Nueva Ecija province-based Shubert
Ciencia of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), a
collectivist NGO advocating rural sustainable development,
Central Luzon is characterized by intense farmer discontent,
which attracts CPP/NPA insurgents wishing to capitalize on
it. He said that the AFP had beefed up its overall
anti-insurgency activities, but he claimed that a noticeable
rise in EJKs in Nueva Ecija had also coincided with the
arrival of Major General Jovito Palparan, Commander of the
7th Infantry Division. Ciencia further alleged that the AFP
targets anyone even suspected of linkages to the NPA,
including NGO members and farmers cooperating or meeting the
NGO members. Ciencia and his staff said the AFP often takes
a census of a particular barangay, then sets up surveillance
to monitor outsiders not included in the original census.
These outsiders, such as PRRM members wanting to work with
peasant farmers, become targets of suspicion, then threats,
and sometimes assassination. Ciencia also alleged that
elements of the 7th ID sometime “forcibly invite” rural
farmers to their detachments for questioning on NPA links,
creating a “climate of fear” among residents.

¶3. (U) Ciencia said that PRRM representatives increasingly
— vary travel patterns;
— document death threats to their national organization;
— self-impose a curfew; and,
— scale back the number of meetings with individual or
groups of farmers.
Ciencia insisted that PRRM has no connection to the CPP/NPA.
He characterized the attitude of local farmers as now not
trusting either the AFP or NPA.

¶4. (C) Leaders of two other NGOs in Nueva Ecija — Movement
for a Democratic Country and the Central Luzon Human Rights
Defenders — also pointed the finger at the AFP for likely
responsibility in EJKs in a meeting with poloff on August 3.
They said they now bring in non-local leaders to work in the
area, because locally-based leaders are more easily targeted
for assassination. They have also begun activities to raise
awareness of personal protection. The local activists agreed
that the lack of an effective witness protection program
makes any kind of prosecution of EJK perpetrators especially

Blame the NPA

¶5. (C) Nueva Ecija Provincial Senior Board Member Eduard
Thomas Joson (son of Governor Tomas Joson III) separately
told poloff that the AFP has the lead in combating the
CPP/NPA insurgency because the local PNP lacks sufficient
arms to do so effectively. He claimed that security forces
in Nueva Ecija are “very on top of things” and that cases of
EJKs are “isolated.” He warned of infiltration of villages
both by CPP/NPA operatives seeking to overthrow the local
governments and by NGO representatives also espousing a
Communist ideology.

¶6. (C) According to Nueva Ecija PNP PCSupt Ismael Rafanan,
the recent upswing in violence in Central Luzon —
particularly Bataan, Zambales, and Pangasinan — was most
likely linked to a purge by the CPP/NPA of rejectionist
elements from their ranks. Rafanan described a major
difficulty in prosecuting cases of EJKs as the reluctance of
witnesses to come forward. Rafanan claimed that the NPA is

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currently amassing even more firearms, either by purchasing
them from a weapons pipeline that starts in the southern
Philippines, or simply by raiding rural PNP stations, as
happened at the PNP detachment in Zambales in April 2006.

The Role of the Church and the CHR

¶7. (C) Cabanatuan Catholic Bishop Sofronio Bacud told poloff
that he and the priests of his diocese work with other
religious groups in the province as well as with the human
rights NGO “Karapatan” to document cases of EJKs and other
human rights violations. From January to July 20, they have
documented six cases of summary killings and twenty-two cases
of abduction and forced disappearance, harassment, torture,
frustrated killing, and illegal search of domiciles in Nueva
Ecija, he said. Bishop Bacud commented that the presence of
MG Palparan now has the NPA more “on the run,” but added that
there is growing confusion among farmers because both the AFP
and the NPA are armed and run checkpoints on some of the same
provincial roads.

¶8. (SBU) Central Luzon Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
Regional Director Jasmin Regino separately expressed concern
about the rise of EJKs in the region, and lamented the lack
of witnesses to the cases as well as CHR’s lack of resources,
funding, and manpower as limitations to its own efforts in
investigating these killings.

¶9. (C) Comment: EJKs remain a fact of life in many parts of
the countryside, with Central Luzon now a special focus of
concern. Septel will provide update on the efforts of the
national level “Task Force Usig” of the PNP to investigate
and prosecute the culprits (ref a), but the bottom line
reality for many local activists, ordinary citizens, and
local government officials is that assassinations remain
cheap and easy to arrange while extremely difficult to solve.
Additionally, as a Deputy Director for the Center for Media
Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) commented separately, EJKs
often reflect a pervasive “culture of impunity” that too
often protects wayward provincial government authorities or
local crime lords.



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