Sep 172014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/09/07MANILA3086.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3086
2007-09-12 08:40
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5069
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3086/01 2550840
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 120840Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8224
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003086

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2017
TAGS: PGOV KCOR PINR RP
SUBJECT: ESTRADA FOUND GUILTY, BUT CALM REACTIONS SO FAR

REF: MANILA 2965

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney for
reasons 1.4.(b) and (d).

¶1. (SBU) Summary: After a six-year corruption trial, the
Philippine anti-graft court handed down a guilty verdict for
former president Joseph Estrada on the charge of plunder and
sentenced him to up to 40 years in prison. Estrada was
acquitted on the additional charge of perjury, while his
codefendants, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, the former president’s
son, and Edward Serapio, the former president’s personal
lawyer, were acquitted on plunder charges. In a solemn and
notably dignified court proceeding, Estrada reacted to the
decision calmly but called the verdict a “political decision”
from a “kangaroo court.” Approximately 700 pro-Estrada
demonstrators gathered on the streets outside the court, but
the police and military, which had secured the area and the
streets of Metro Manila with more than 6,000 soldiers and
police, kept the demonstration peaceful. Mission will
continue to monitor the so-far calm public reaction to the
verdict. End Summary.

—————————————–
The Decision Against the Former President
—————————————–

¶2. (U) After a six-year trial, the three-judge panel in the
Special Division Court of the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court
announced its decision in the long-running corruption trial
of former president Joseph (“Erap”) Estrada. Estrada was
found guilty of plunder for accepting millions of dollars in
bribe money from illegal gambling operations, diverting
millions of dollars of excise taxes to his personal accounts,
depositing his proceeds into alias bank accounts, and
profiting on commissions from stock manipulation. The former
president was acquitted on the charge of perjury for
non-disclosure of a number of businesses in a 1998 official
statement of assets. Estrada’s attorneys have fifteen days
to ask the anti-graft court to reconsider, or can appeal
directly to the Supreme Court.

¶3. (U) The court sentenced Estrada to “reclusion perpetua,”
or a maximum of 40 years, and ruled that his six years in
detention since his trial began will be credited to this
sentence. The prison sentence was accompanied by civil
penalties and a permanent disqualification from public
office. Estrada was ordered to forfeit approximately 15
million dollars in funds that he obtained illegally. The
court also ordered forfeiture of Estrada’s “Boracay Mansion,”
a luxurious estate in Metro Manila.

———————-
Continued House Arrest
———————-

¶4. (U) Estrada departed the court escorted by large numbers
of police to return to his house in Tanay, Rizal, where he
has been detained for the last six years. Estrada’s
attorneys released a statement on his behalf, saying that the
“conviction did not come as a surprise” and that the “rule of
law was set aside” but “truth will ultimately prevail.”
President Arroyo’s office issued a press release stating, “We
bow to the decision of the Sandiganbayan; we hope and pray
that the rule of law will prevail.” Lead prosecutor Dennis
Villa-Ignacio reiterated to the press that there was “no
interference from Malacanang while the prosecution panel was
doing its work.” Villa-Ignacio added that before a
presidential pardon could be considered by Arroyo, Estrada
must exhaust the appeals process.

——————————————— –
Demonstrations Peaceful, Smaller than Expected
——————————————— –

¶5. (U) Contrary to government expectations and in contrast
with the several hundred thousand who demonstrated in favor
of Estrada in May 2001, only some 700 pro-Estrada
demonstrators gathered on the streets outside the court,
bearing “Justice for Erap, Justice for the Masses” posters.
The police and military had secured the area with a 300 meter
perimeter around the court, while more than 6,000 soldiers
and police were placed at other strategic locations
throughout Metro Manila, including the Malacanang
Presidential Palace. Reports said that President Arroyo
intended to stay in the palace as a precaution. The
demonstrations remained peaceful and calm, however, with no
reports of violence. Estrada supporters have reportedly
scheduled rallies for the afternoon in other parts of Metro
Manila, though large numbers of demonstrators are no longer
expected following the low turnout for the verdict. Heavy
rains the day of the verdict also helped dampen the response.

MANILA 00003086 002 OF 002

In a brief CNN interview, Estrada called on his supporters
to “calm down.”

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (C) The promulgation hearing was a solemn, dignified
proceeding, both inside and outside the courthouse. The
police and military, having learned a hard lesson from past
popular demonstrations, were well prepared to avert any
violent demonstrations. The appeals process will likely drag
this case forward for many months to come but the general
public appears to have welcomed the closure of at least the
first portion of this long-running political distraction.

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

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.