Sep 282014
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-11-30 07:51
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005521



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2015

¶B. MANILA 3754
¶C. MANILA 1774

Classified By: Political Officer Machut Shishak for
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (SBU) Summary: Justice Secretary Gonzalez has issued the
first public statement by a high-ranking Philippine
administration official on the extra-judicial killings of
suspected criminals in Davao and Cebu, which continue to
increase. This year, at least 147 have been killed in Davao
and 104 in Cebu. Local officials appear to openly condone
these crimes, and it remains to be seen whether Gonzalez’
statements will result in any concrete actions. No arrests
have yet been made for past killings, and the killings
continue to erode an already low level of public confidence
in the rule of law. Mission will continue to urge the
apprehension and prosecution of those responsible. End

Davao Killings Hit 147

¶2. (U) The Davao-based NGO Kabataan Consortium, a founding
member of the Coalition Against Summary Executions (CASE)
recorded 147 cases of summary executions in Davao City from
January to November 5, an increase of ten since August (ref
b). According to press reports (which are not always
accurate), the number reached 169 by mid-November. Most of
the victims were suspected drug pushers and thieves whose
killings have been attributed to suspected members of the
“Davao Death Squad” (DDS), the shadowy vigilante group that
is suspected of killing 104 persons last year, according to
Kabataan (see refs b and c).

¶3. (SBU) Kabataan documented one case of attempted murder in
October in which the alleged “vigilante” suspect was arrested
but posted bail. The trial hearing was scheduled to start on
November 28, but Kabataan informed Pol FSN that the victim’s
family has withdrawn their complaint and that the case will
likely be dismissed as a result. Kabataan has five other
cases it wants to bring to the courts, but is worried about
the level of protection local police would provide to its

Cebu 94

¶4. (SBU) According to press reports confirmed by Cebu City
Councilor Procopio Fernandez, the number of vigilante-style
killings in Cebu reached 104 in mid-November. The killings
began in December 2004, when Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena
announced the creation of a special police “Hunter Team” to
crack down on crime. In one recent example, on October 1 a
gunman in Cebu shot and killed a man who had been jailed six
times for alleged petty crimes.

¶5. (U) The Cebu City chapter of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines approved a resolution on October 5 asking the
House of Representatives to address the failure of local
authorities to resolve or stop the summary executions of
people with criminal backgrounds in Cebu and other parts of
the country. Cebu’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Ricardo Vidal
and the Cebu Commission on Human Rights have also continued
to be critical of city government officials for failing to
curb the killings.

Mayors Appear to Condone Killings

¶6. (SBU) Public officials, including the mayors of both Cebu
City and Davao City, appear to condone if not encourage these
killings. In October, Mayor Osmena publicly speculated that
vigilante killings had frightened criminals in Cebu City and
reduced crime. He was referring to a reported 31 percent
decline in the incidence of robberies between January and
September, according to local police statistics. Osmena has
also stated in the press that solving vigilante killings is
among the least of his priorities. (Note: One reason why
some officials and members of the public may condone such
killings is a weak judicial sector, partly reflected in a low
conviction rate; in this context, “quick” justice becomes a
way to circumvent a slow-moving and inefficient or corrupt
judicial process. End Note.)

¶7. (C) Andrei Seeto, the human rights reporting officer at
the Embassy of Australia in Manila, told poloff that during a
recent conversation he had with Davao City Mayor Duterte, the
mayor very bluntly said the killings were what criminals
understood and that was “the way things are done here.”
Duterte also criticized human rights groups for “putting
ideas” into people’s heads about the killings.

The GRP Speaks, Finally

¶8. (SBU) On September 15, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez
issued a statement ordering the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) to investigate the reported extrajudicial
or vigilante killings in Davao City. Gonzalez stated,
however, that these reports were unsubstantiated. He claimed
that police investigations show that many of these cases are
not vigilante killings, and that media reports blow the real
situation out of proportion. According to the Chief State
Prosecutor, the investigation will be a joint effort by
members of the NBI headquarters and regional Davao office.
In October, Gonzalez also ordered the NBI to investigate the
killings in Cebu. An NBI official told Pol FSN said the NBI
in Cebu was investigating some cases of summary killings but
that these were not yet classified as vigilante killings.


¶9. (C) These vigilante killings, together with the killings
of leftist activists (ref a) and journalists (septel) are
eroding public confidence in the rule of law. Despite GRP
assurances that it is investigating the killings, there has
been little action on the ground. It remains to be seen
whether Gonzalez’ recent statements will lead to arrests and
convictions or a decline in vigilante killings, especially
when local officials appear to condone these crimes openly.
Mission continues to urge the GRP to vigorously investigate
these killings and bring to justice those responsible, as
well as to support and encourage reform of the PNP and
judicial system.




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