Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/12/05MANILA5877.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5877
2005-12-19 09:09
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS MANILA 005877

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, INR/EAP, INR/B

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS PREL PINR RP
SUBJECT: FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY RELEASED AFTER BEING CHARGED WITH INCITING SEDITION

REF: A. MANILA 5844
¶B. MANILA 1988

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (SBU) Summary: Former defense secretary Fortunado Abat
and three members of his self-proclaimed “Revolutionary
Transition Government” were released on December 16 — a day
after police detained them for questioning. All four men
were charged with “inciting sedition.” The 80-year old
Abat’s effort to replace the Arroyo government appears to
have been a blip on the radar screen that has only served to
draw loud guffaws. End Summary.

¶3. (U) The Philippine National Police (PNP) released former
defense secretary General Fortunado Abat late December 16
after detaining him the day before for “inciting sedition.”
Plainclothes officers from the PNP’s Criminal Investigation
and Detection Group (CIDG) had detained Abat on December 15
two days after he declared himself “President” of a
“Revolutionary Transition Government” during a press event
at a Manila social club (ref A). Former National Labor
Relations Commission Chairman Roy Senares, former budget
secretary Salvador Enriquez, and attorney Charlie Serapio —

SIPDIS
all members of Abat’s self-proclaimed “government” — were
taken into custody at the same time and were released along
with Abat. Like him, they were also charged with the
inciting sedition charge. All of the accused were released
after posting bail of 12,000 pesos (USD 225). If convicted,
they face between six and twelve years imprisonment.

¶4. (SBU) Reaction to Abat’s release has been muted.
Despite the fact that Abat is believed to maintain friends
in the military (he was once commander of the army in
addition to being defense secretary), there has been little
reaction within the ranks of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) to his detention. Malacanang, for its
part, sought to downplay the matter. Press Secretary
Ignacio Bunye told the press on December 17, “As far as
Malacanang is concerned, this issue is over. This is now a
police and judicial matter and what the police did was
within the bounds of the law. We would prefer to talk about
more productive endeavors.” Some members of Congress
criticized Malacanang for coming down too hard on Abat,
asserting that Abat’s halting effort need not have been
dignified with a police response.

¶5. (U) Abat’s lawyer vowed to file charges against the PNP
and the Philippine Department of Justice for illegal arrest
and detention, as well as preventing legal assembly, grave
coercion, theft, and other crimes. He contends the
detention was illegal because the PNP had not obtained a
warrant before detaining Abat and his supporters. (Note:
When asked at a December 15 press conference about this, PNP
Spokesman Chief Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil responded
that the police had made a “citizen’s arrest,” which
required no warrant. End Note.)

¶6. (SBU) Comment: The 80-year old Abat’s effort to replace
the Arroyo government appears to have been a blip on the
radar screen that has only served to draw loud guffaws. In
making his announcement, Abat was clearly trying to agitate
the military, but, as noted, there was no discernible
resonance from that quarter to his effort (save for that of
his son, a military officer who has been relieved from a
field command and investigated for apparently supporting his
father). Arroyo may be suffering from precipitously low
poll numbers, but Filipinos at large seem more focused on
Christmas than politics at this point.

JONES

   

 

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