Sep 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/09/08MANILA2103.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA2103
2008-09-10 09:41
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9329
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DE RUEHML #2103/01 2540941
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 100941Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1782
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002103

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
STATE FOR DRL KIM/STEINHELFER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/10/2018
TAGS: PHUM PREL RP
SUBJECT: DEMONSTRATING COMMITMENT TO STOP EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

REF: A. MANILA 2022 (PRESIDENT DETERMINED TO STOP ATTACKS)
¶B. MANILA 1759 (COURT CONVICTS SOLDIER FOR
DISAPPEARANCES)
¶C. MANILA 1706 (RAMPING UP INVESTIGATION AND
PROSECUTION OF KILLINGS)

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Jon Lindborg,
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The Philippine government continues to take
steps against extrajudicial killings (EJKs) through continued
engagement with civil society actors and increased vigilance
at the highest levels of the police and military. The
Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) is closely monitoring
the investigations of three killings committed in June and
August, including a potential EJK where a police officer is
the primary suspect. The Philippine National Police (PNP) in
August recalled a police commander to face investigation for
planning to commit abuses against a detainee. Secretary of
National Defense Gilberto Teodoro told Ambassador August 28
(Ref A) that he would pay close attention to human rights
issues during the military’s ongoing operations in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, programs supported by the State Department’s
Bureau of Democracy, Rights, and Labor and USAID continued to
train legal professionals around the country, imparting the
skills needed to investigate and prosecute EJK cases. These
programs are helping establish a long-term foundation for a
more responsive judicial system. In light of the
government’s continued cooperation with NGOs and recent
actions and comments by police and military leaders, the
government overall remains visibly committed to improving its
ability to prevent and resolve EJKs, even as it engages
insurgents in fighting in Mindanao. End Summary.

DOJ MONITORS THREE NEW KILLINGS
——————————-

¶2. (U) The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Task Force 211,
charged with prosecuting EJKs, is examining three new
killings of journalists. Only one of these incidents appears
to be an EJK involving a state actor. In early August, two
commentators from Radio Mindanao Network were killed in South
Cotabato and Aklan provinces. In the South Cotabato
incident, the DOJ is monitoring the case after charges were
filed against a junior police officer on August 17. In the
Aklan murder, which may have been politically motivated, the
two perpetrators were apprehended by police immediately
following the crime, and charges were filed on August 14. In
both these cases, the presence of eyewitnesses allowed the
police to file charges quickly. The DOJ is also monitoring
the investigation into the June 30 killing of a journalist in
Quezon province.

POLICE, MILITARY AWARE OF POTENTIAL ABUSES
——————————————

¶3. (C) The leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have repeatedly
expressed their commitment to bring perpetrators of human
rights violations to justice, and their positions appear
unchanged even as they engage in military operations in
Mindanao. In August, the PNP recalled a police commander to
face investigation for planning to commit abuses against a
detainee. With regard to the military, Secretary of National
Defense Gilberto Teodoro privately reassured the Ambassador
(Ref A) that he would pay close attention to human rights
issues during the military’s ongoing operations in central
Mindanao, and he acknowledged the Ambassador’s concerns that
all violent episodes during the last several weeks of
confrontations, whether committed by Christians or Muslims,
be properly investigated.

NGOs LEND A HELPING HAND
————————

¶4. (U) The Philippine government continues to cooperate with
civil society actors to help the justice system hold EJK
perpetrators accountable. Grants from the State Department’s
Bureau of Democracy, Rights, and Labor (DRL) and USAID have
enabled two NGOs to hold capacity-building workshops and
create detailed legal reference materials for law
professionals. Since 2007, the Asia Foundation has utilized
a USAID grant to train over 250 prosecutors, judges,
attorneys, and other stakeholders in specific legal topics
such as the proper handling of forensic evidence, Philippine
humanitarian law, and other subjects. The skills imparted in

MANILA 00002103 002 OF 002

these workshops are critical for the successful prosecution
of any EJK case. Workshops have been held in different
regions, including Mindanao, and additional programs are
scheduled for the remainder of 2008. In August, the Asia
Foundation finalized a Prosecutor’s Manual on Human Rights to
be distributed at prosecutors’ offices around the country.
This manual will guide prosecutors on gathering and
presenting evidence and coordinating with witness protection
providers for the security of victims, witnesses, and their
families. The continued enthusiastic support of Philippine
government partner institutions in these programs
demonstrates that they derive significant benefit from their
involvement.

¶5. (U) The American Bar Association (ABA), through a grant
from DRL, launched its own series of EJK-related training in
June 2008 with a training course in Luzon for 28 prosecutors
on crime scene preservation and forensics. The training
encouraged prosecutors to think critically about the role and
uses of physical evidence and taught them to recognize,
preserve, and present evidence for use in trials. Following
the training, a multi-sectoral conference on EJKs brought
together prosecutors, public attorneys, journalists, and
human rights activists, as well as the chair of the
Philippine Human Rights Commission and other officials, to
discuss legal developments and the different responsibilities
of stakeholders combating EJKs. Participants in both events
said the training gave them important new skills that they
would pass on to their colleagues and apply in their work.
Based on positive feedback received from participants, ABA
will conduct additional training workshops and conferences in
other parts of the country, including in Mindanao and Cebu,
during the remainder of the year.

COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) While the problem of EJKs remains serious, the
Philippine government appears increasingly committed to
preventing and solving cases of extrajudicial killings. The
PNP and the DOJ have maintained a higher level of
transparency in the investigation and prosecution of EJKs,
and have repeatedly noted to Ambassador and Embassy officers
that they are focused on the EJK issue. The PNP’s swift
recall of a commander is a sign that the PNP is able to match
its public words with private actions, while demonstrating a
growing awareness on the part of the government that gross
human rights violations could negatively impact the peace
process. Ambassador and senior officers at post remain
engaged with Philippine officials to reiterate the need for
all state actors to pay particular attention to the need to
respect the human rights of individuals detained during the
ongoing military operations in Mindanao.
LINDBORG

   

 

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