Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1162.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1162 2006-03-14 09:06 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO7765
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1162/01 0730906
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140906Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9968
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001162

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, DRL/CRA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/14/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR PHUM RP
SUBJECT: GRP KEEPS UP PRESSURE ON ACCUSED LAWMAKERS

REF: A. MANILA 1021

¶B. MANILA 0918
¶C. MANILA 889

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: The GRP has presented its first witness in
a prosecution probe of five left-wing lawmakers accused of
sedition in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the
government in February. The five remain ensconced at the
House of Representatives. On March 13, a trial court ordered
the release of leftist Congressman Crispin Beltran, who was
arrested on charges of inciting to sedition on February 25
right after the imposition of a State of National Emergency.
Beltran remains in custody, however, pending further police
investigation. The government is clearly intent on pressing
forward with its cases against the six representatives, who
— based on our soundings — do not mind the notoriety they
are receiving. End Summary.

———————————–
GRP Presses Case vs. “Batasan Five”
———————————–

¶2. (U) On March 13, the Philippine National Police (PNP)
presented their first witness in a probe by Department of
Justice (DoJ) prosecutors into charges of rebellion filed
against five left-wing “party list” representatives. (Note:
These lawmakers are known as the “Batasan Five” — a
reference to the Batasang Pambansa complex where the House of
Representatives meets and where the five have been staying
since late February. End Note.) Appearing at a
hastily-convened panel at the complex, former New People’s
Army (NPA) member Jaime Fuentes — who wore an improvised
hood made from a brown sports shirt throughout the proceeding
— claimed to have witnessed “a secret” meeting in February
2006 involving the five accused lawmakers and NPA cadre in a
discussion of a plan to oust President Arroyo. Fuentes
testified that NPA leaders also met with former social
welfare secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and other members
of the Opposition to discuss similar plans. None of the
accused lawmakers were present at the proceedings. After the
brief hearing, government lawyers delivered copies of the
rebellion complaint filed by police to the House offices of
the accused with instructions that they have ten days to
respond to the charges by filing a counter-affidavit.

¶3. (C) In a March 13 meeting at her office in the House,
Gabriela representative Liza Maza told poloff she believed
the DoJ was “railroading” her and the other accused
lawmakers. She said the Arroyo administration had prejudged
the case, as evidenced by what she said were prejudicial
comments made by GRP officials to the press. Maza accused
the GRP of ignoring due process in threatening to arrest her
and the other accused representatives without warrants. She
also showed poloff a copy of the subpoena for the preliminary
investigation’s panel’s hearing earlier that day; it was
issued only hours before the hearing started. Maza — who
appeared tired but quite determined in countenance — accused
the government of acting in “bad faith” and said the
preliminary investigation was nothing more than “a sham.”
She expressed confidence that the government did not have
strong evidence that she or any of her colleagues had broken
the law, but said she expected that arrest warrants would be
issued soon for the accused lawmakers nonetheless.

¶4. (U) In the meantime, the “Batasan Five” remain ensconced
in the House of Representatives compound in Quezon City,
though they have moved into their own offices. (Note: The
five were initially staying in the chambers of House Speaker
Jose de Venecia. The accused lawmakers remain under the
“protective custody” of De Venecia while the DoJ conducts its
preliminary investigation. End Note.) Supporters of
left-wing parties are trying to use the charges as a rallying
point against the government. Many posters and signs
supporting the accused lawmakers were in evidence at the
House compound. Supporters — clearly worried about the
potential for police moves to arrest the five –are on edge:
Poloff was briefly stopped by a small group of Maza’s
supporters who are camped outside her office before she gave
the word allowing him to enter.

——————————-
Judge Orders Release of Beltran
——————————-

MANILA 00001162 002 OF 002

¶5. (C) In other news related to legal cases against party
list lawmakers, the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court
ordered the release of left-wing representative Crispin
Beltran, who was arrested on charges of inciting to sedition
on February 25 right after the imposition of a State of
National Emergency. Judge Evangeline Castillo-Margomen said
in her March 13 ruling that she found no basis for Beltran’s
continued detention. Despite the ruling, the PNP has
announced that it intends to continue to hold Beltran at a
maximum-security facility located at police headquarters at
Camp Crame in Manila, stating that he still faces another
charge of rebellion before the Makati City Regional Trial
Court. In a March 10 meeting, Congressman Gilberto Teodoro
told Acting Pol/C that he doubted that Beltran would be
released any time soon, though he predicted the possibility
of adverse court rulings for the GRP: “I think the
government will work to make sure he remains in detention by
constantly filing new charges, if necessary. However, the
court system will make the government show its evidence and
really demonstrate that it is appropriate for him to be kept
under lock and key.”

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (C) The government is clearly intent on pressing forward
with its cases against the six representatives. As reported
(also see septel), the government is constantly pressing the
view that the New People’s Army, assisted by its leftist
allies in Congress, were in cahoots with elements of the
military in a plot which necessitated the declaration of the
State of National Emergency. To back down regarding the
“Batasan Five” and Beltran at this stage, would be an
embarrassment for the GRP. This situation does not seem to
bother the party list representatives, who are enjoying all
the press play and their increased notoriety. They also feel
that the government is coming off as unbending and
dictatorial, which is fine with them. If the five
representatives now staying at the Congress join Beltran and
are arrested — which seems to be where events are headed —
tensions would probably spike, with the left trying to stir
things up a bit on the streets ahead of May Day.

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Jones

   

 

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