Sep 132014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1179 2006-03-15 10:32 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
DE RUEHML #1179/01 0741032
O 151032Z MAR 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001179




E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2016

¶B. 05 MANILA 2572

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Paul W. Jones for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).

¶1. (SBU) Summary: In a March 9 diplomatic corps briefing,
senior GRP officials laid out the case in support of the
February 24 declaration of a State of National Emergency
through Proclamation 1017. The GRP maintains that an “unholy
alliance” of three groups — Communist rebels and political
allies, elements of the mainstream Opposition, and
“habitually delinquent” members of the armed forces —
threatened the stability of the government. Clearly,
elements of the armed forces sought to topple the Arroyo
government by planning to “withdraw support” on the 20th
anniversary of the People Power movement that overthrew
President Marcos. On the question of a larger plot, we
conclude that there likely were some additional efforts by
the Communist rebels and some lower ranks of the military to
overthrow the government. The extent of actual coordination
with leftist and mainstream Opposition is unclear, but some
support from these elements is logical. It is doubtful that
the alleged plans of the Communist rebels, military elements
and certain politicos were as well-coordinated or potentially
bloody as the government suggests. Nonetheless, the GRP
faces a real adversary in the Communist Party of the
Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the New People’s Army
(NPA), which will continue to try to undermine President
Arroyo and her government. End Summary.

“Clear and Present Danger”

¶2. (SBU) On March 9, Charge attended a diplomatic corps
briefing in which the GRP laid out the case in support of the
February 24 declaration of a State of National Emergency
through Proclamation 1017 (Ref A). The briefing at the
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was led by Secretary of
Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo and co-chaired by Executive
Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Secretary of the Department of

National Defense Avelino Cruz. Throughout the briefing, the
three Cabinet officials repeatedly referred to a “clear and
present danger” that had necessitated the GRP’s actions. The
centerpiece of the briefing was a 15-minute video entitled,
“1017: The Weapon Against Betrayal.” The video portrayed a
strong link between three groups alleged by the GRP to be
behind the threat: the CPP/NPA; rebel members of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and, members of
leftist-front party list organizations, such as Bayan Muna,
led by Representative Satur Ocampo. While the involvement of
other Opposition figures in the alleged plot have been a
subject of public discourse and private allegations, they
were not discussed at the DFA meeting and only briefly
mentioned in the video.

The GRP’s Story

¶3. (SBU) The video — which received a wide distribution when
it was shown on television before the March 9 briefing —
laid out the alleged strategy of the three groups. According
to the narrative, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the
CPP/NPA and rebel AFP soldiers was found February 21 on a
computer drive taken from 1LT. Lawrence San Juan. (Note:
San Juan had been imprisoned for his role in the 2003 Oakwood
Mutiny, but escaped from his detention facility on January
¶17. He was recaptured on February 21 and his computer drive,
which contained the MOA, was confiscated — Ref B. End
Note.). The MOA outlined the goals to: depose the Arroyo
government; establish a transitional government; and,
continue strengthening their forces. Destabilization by
implementing one of three versions of “Oplan Hackle” would
involve various degrees of force and allow takeover of the
AFP, television stations and other communication facilities,
the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court,
and other targets. A main component of Oplan Hackle involved
left-wing party list organizations, whose job would be to
facilitate rallies and marches that would escalate to 500,000
civilians headed towards Malacanang. The pressure from the
protests would allow the CPP/NPA/AFP to initiate the “main
event” and commence plans for a takeover.


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How Valid Are These Claims?

¶4. (C) The GRP claims to source the information from multiple
documents, interrogations, and debriefings. According to the
GRP, it first learned of the existence of “Oplan Hackle” on
January 16, after discovering that a January 10 clandestine
meeting had been held in Makati involving San Juan
(supposedly on a “temporary pass” from his detention
facility) and other rebel junior officers. Additional
information on “Oplan Hackle” emerged after San Juan’s
escape, allegedly from documents recovered from his detention
cell and subsequent debriefings/interrogations of persons
implicated in the supposed operation. The documents
allegedly recovered from San Juan’s computer drive include:
minutes from a November 10, 2005 meeting between elements of
the military sector and representatives of the CPP; minutes
from a February 20 meeting between the same persons; and, a
memorandum of agreement between AFP rebels and CPP/NPA
counterparts (see para three above for more information on
the MOA).

¶5. (C) While the writing style and language of the three
documents are similar to known examples of CPP/NPA writing
and appear to be authentic, the information contained in them
does not fully support the GRP conclusions. Discrepancies in
GRP claims and GRP supporting evidence can be broken down
into the following categories:

a. Links between AFP and NPA: the documents said to have
been recovered from San Juan indicate that some
military-rightist elements indeed met with representatives of
the CPP. Only one active duty AFP officer (speaking on
behalf of junior officers) is identifiable from the
transcript of the meeting. Senior active duty officers are
spoken of only in the third person. Indeed, in the
transcript, the apparent head of the military-associated
elements acknowledges that they do not have direct control
over any anti-administration elements in the active duty
military. Thus, there is no clear indication of a genuine
agreement between any active duty military officers and the
CPP/NPA, other than the one unidentified officer claiming to
represent junior officers (whom the GRP claims was San Juan)
while describing other attendees as retired military
officers. That said, the NPA has historically recruited from
within the AFP and attempted to maintain secret links with
disgruntled soldiers through its “Lt Crispin Tagamolila
Command,” named after a AFP officer who defected to the NPA
in 1971. A link to the Lt Crispin Tagamolila Command
previously existed on the NPA website but was removed
sometime within the past month. Since 1971, a number of
high-ranking AFP officers and hundreds of lower ranking
troops have defected to the NPA;

b. Links between leftist organizations and the CPP: in its
presentation, the GRP alleged that direct ties exist between
the CPP/NPA and the Congressional party list groups Bayan
Muna, Gabriela, Migrante, and Anak Pawis (which have a total
of six congressional representatives, one of whom is
presently in detention while the other five are currently in
the custody of the House of Representatives). There is logic
behind this assertion, but no direct evidence. In the past
few years, the CPP created a number of left wing front
organizations under its United Front Commission. The CPP
actively seeks to influence pre-existing or “progressive”
organizations through penetration, coalitions, and/or common
actions. While the CPP ties to Gabriela, Migrante, and
Anakpawis are unclear, we have evidence the CPP formed Bayan
Muna to participate in Congressional elections as a party
list organization. Gabriela and Anak Pawis leaders are
former Bayan Muna members, suggesting but not proving that
the parties are linked (and thus, potentially linked to
CPP/NPA as well). Migrante is “commonly known” to be linked
to CPP/NPA and the other party list organizations, but no
direct evidence of this exists. (Note: Party list
candidates represent “disenfranchised” sectors or communities
and not/not ideologies. They do not compete head-to-head for
congressional seats but only need to garner two percent of
the party list votes nationwide to win one seat for a maximum
allocation of three seats for any single party list. End

c. Oplan Hackle: despite the GRP’s assertions in its “1017”
video, the documents from the alleged meetings indicate no
plan to take over multiple vital installations in a military
action. The AFP’s initial report on “Oplan Hackle” after San

MANILA 00001179 003 OF 003

Juan’s January 17 escape (and before his February 21
recapture) made no mention of an alliance with the CPP/NPA.
Further, the documents that purportedly detail the minutes of
the February 20 meeting do not mention “Oplan Hackle,” but
rather discuss the military component of a civil-military
action referred to as “Oplan 4G.” In this plan — should
political developments warrant it — the rebel military would
seize a vital installation and declare that spot as the seat
of a civilian-led transition government, with the possibility
of similar actions in rural areas where anti-administration
forces are strongest;

d. Opposition involvement: despite allegations in
Proclamation 1017 that mainstream Opposition figures in
addition to the extreme left were a key element of a larger
strategy, the Diplomatic Corps briefing and video did not
focus on this aspect. Documents from the alleged February 20
meeting between the unidentified AFP officer and CPP/NPA
elements assert there was some discourse on how to involve
other groups in the effort, including the support of
Opposition street protests and how Opposition and other (even
neutral) figures could be incorporated into a governing
“council” should Arroyo be removed. Among those
groups/personalities the CPP/NPA/AFP group discussed were the
Catholic Bishop’s Council of the Philippines and former
President Joseph Estrada. Separately, Senator Gordon told
Charge that he was approached by coup plotters, and Senator
Lacson has told the press of several approaches, all of which
were turned down.

Conclusion: Less Than Meets the Eye, but….

¶6. (C) Overall, we conclude that there was an effort to
destabilize the GRP, going beyond a simple “withdrawal of
support” by senior elements of the military. However, it is
not clear that the plans were as well coordinated or
potentially bloody as the GRP suggests. Despite claims of a
broad conspiracy involving the CPP/NPA, rebel factions of the
AFP, left-wing party-list organizations, and other Opposition
groups, we have seen little evidence to suggest that the
efforts at destabilization were this cohesive. While 1LT.
San Juan apparently did meet with some CPP/NPA members, the
CPP/NPA/AFP relationship appears to have ended there, with no
senior active duty AFP members involved. At the same time,
however, Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Marine Colonel
Ariel Querubin were preparing to withdraw support from the
government during the 20th anniversary of the People Power
that overthrew President Marcos. It was perhaps this
confluence of possibly separate efforts to destabilize the
government that triggered the President to declare a State of
National Emergency. There is no clear evidence that
mainstream Opposition members were involved in the strategy,
although Opposition leaders admit privately that they at
least maintain contacts with many in the AFP, including
elements unhappy with President Arroyo’s leadership. They
have not admitted to us any direct links with CPP/NPA
leaders, but years of on-again, off-again negotiations
between the GRP and the CPP/NPA have undoubtedly created ties
and perhaps alliances.

¶7. (C) While the GRP’s assertions regarding the CPP’s role
in the February 24 coup attempt seem tenuous, the government
nonetheless faces a real — and often deadly — adversary in
the CPP/NPA. Through its continuing political and military
activities, its calls for the overthrow of the government,
and its destabilization efforts in the countryside, the
CPP/NPA clearly remains a genuine threat.

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