Sep 152014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA1401 2005-03-29 08:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL 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 03 MANILA 001401



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2015


¶B. MANILA 1127
¶C. MANILA 0887
¶D. MANILA 0387
¶E. 04 MANILA 5901
¶F. 04 MANILA 5552

Classified By: Political Officer Timothy L. Cipullo
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: Gunmen have already killed up to eighteen
members of leftist front groups including Bayan Muna — a
political party closely associated with the Communist Party
of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) — since the
beginning of 2005. Leftist leaders have claimed that there
is a “systematic campaign” underway by GRP security forces to
kill leftist party members. The GRP has promised that it is
investigating the killings and police claim to have
“identified” one suspect so far. The NPA continues its
long-standing insurgency, frequently assassinating local
leaders as well as ambushing GRP security forces. We have
raised concerns with the GRP about the situation, but the
culture of violence will continue to thrive for the
foreseeable future. End Summary.

Spree of killings

¶2. (U) Gunmen have already in 2005 killed up to eighteen
activists belonging to left-leaning organizations, while
seriously wounding several others. Two other individuals are
missing. These killings have occurred primarily in central
and northern Luzon and in the Visayan region. Details of
major incidents follow:

— on March 22, unidentified gunmen in Pampanga Province
(northwest of Manila) attacked lawyer Charles Juloya, a
losing Bayan Muna candidate in the 2004 Congressional
elections. Juloya remains in critical condition, having
suffered six gunshot wounds. He was the second target of
violence among fourteen suspects in a 1999 killing of former
rebel priest and ex-NPA member Conrado Balweg (although the
NPA itself claimed responsibility for his death), following
the March 9 slaying of Romeo Sanchez (see below);

— on March 16, two gunmen in Camarines Norte Province in
Southern Luzon shot and killed Joel Reyes, an organizer for
the CPP/NPA-linked peasant group, Anakpawis;

— on March 14 in Tacloban City, Leyte Province, two men
riding a motorcycle shot and killed Felidito Dacut, the Bayan
Muna regional coordinator for the Eastern Visayas region;

— on March 10, four unidentified men shot and killed Ernesto
Bang on the doorstep of his house in Camarines Norte. Bang
was the public information officer of the Camarines Norte
chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Farmers’
Movement of the Philippines), another peasant organization);

— on March 9 in the crowded Baguio City public market, a
lone gunman killed Romeo Sanchez, Bayan Muna coordinator for
the Ilocos Region. Sanchez, a suspect in the 1999 Balweg
murder, was also a radio journalist (ref A);

— on March 3, a gunman shot and killed Abelardo Ladera,
Councilor of Tarlac City and Provincial Chapter Leader of
Bayan Muna. Ladera was a supporter of various left-leaning
causes in Tarlac Province, including the effort to support
striking farm workers at Hacienda Luisita, where in November
2004 security forces killed at least seven people when they
fired into a crowd of protesters at the estate — (refs

Left Accuses Security Forces

¶3. (SBU) Leftist front groups have publicly accused GRP
security forces of waging a “systematic campaign” to
eliminate leftist operatives. According to Bayan Muna
spokesman and Congressman Satur Ocampo, “the probability, if
not certainty, that these (killings) are perpetrated by
agents of the state, through its military or paramilitary
operatives, makes the situation a larger cause for public
concern.” Ocampo claimed that almost fifty leftist activists
have been killed since 2001. Ocampo, along with fellow Bayan
Muna Congressman Teddy Casino, have drafted a resolution
urging Congress to condemn the attacks; Congress is expected
to consider the resolution in April. Casino told poloff that
he and other Bayan Muna members “fear for their lives” due to
the recent violence but did not provide any hard evidence or
documentation to back up allegations of GRP involvement in
the attacks.

¶4. (C) Gilberto Teodoro, a Congressman from Tarlac,
separately told poloff that he was concerned that elements
linked with the AFP may be involved in the killings.
However, Teodoro (part of the large Cojuangco clan that owns
Hacienda Luisita) did not provide any hard evidence. He
expressed worry that there could be a “real bloodbath” if the
NPA decided to retaliate for the killings of the leftist

GRP Reaction

¶5. (SBU) The Philippine National Police (PNP) has promised
that it is actively investigating the killings. So far,
however, authorities have made progress on only one of the
cases. A special task force created by the Cordillera police
department (in the Ilocos region) has “identified” a suspect
in connection with the March 9 killing of Bayan Muna
official, Romeo Sanchez. According to the PNP, Baguio City
police are now “preparing the necessary evidence and other
pertinent documents to facilitate the filing of murder
charges” against a known suspect described by eyewitnesses.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the
constitutionally-mandated body set up to promote human rights
in the Philippines, has also tasked its own investigators to
look into the recent killings. According to CHR officials,
however, the CHR has not received any formal complaints about
any of the killings as of yet. Bayan Muna representatives
nonetheless claimed to poloff that they planned to file a
detailed complaint shortly covering all of the killings so
far this year. (Note: CHR can investigate human rights
matters without a complaint, but the filing of a complaint
sets off mandated timeframes by which a formal report must be
filed. End Note.)

NPA Violence

¶6. (U) The NPA itself has a long history of attacks on
members of the military and police during its almost
forty-year insurgency. In its print and electronic
publication “Ang Bayan,” the CPP/NPA boasted that the NPA had
killed 138 members of the PNP and AFP in 2004 alone. (The
PNP has reported that the NPA assassinated only 91 PNP and
AFP members in 2004, however.) Some recent NPA attacks on
security forces include:

— In early 2005, after the slaying of two policemen
(witnessed by an amcit) by suspected NPA members at the local
airport in Catanduanes Island (in Southern Tagalog), local
police sent six officers to pursue the killers, but suspected
NPA soldiers ambushed and killed them;

— On December 14, 2004, suspected NPA members staged a road
accident in Tarlac. When police responded, gunmen opened
fire, killing the two officers;

— On November 30, 2004, suspected NPA forces ambushed and
killed 10 AFP soldiers deployed on rescue and relief
operations in typhoon-ravaged Quezon Province.

GRP Concern About the CPP/NPA

¶7. (C) Contacts in the GRP have expressed frustration over
the NPA attacks and the failure to bring the perpetrators to
justice. An internal PNP report in 2004 stated that
“…losses incurred by the Government from recent NPA
atrocities show that the NPA has become bolder and efficient
in the conduct of its armed offensives.” Ref b noted new
strategic efforts by the GRP to deal with the CPP/NPA,
including the appointment of a new GRP panel for peace talks.

¶8. (C) GRP officials are also alarmed by what they consider
to be rapid political gains by parties associated with the
CPP/NPA in recent years. The same PNP also stated that
“after the 2004 elections, the party (Bayan Muna) is expected
to significantly move forward in terms of increasing its mass
base support through transforming the electoral mass base
developed and organized by the six (6) party-list groups that
it has fielded for the party-list elections. In this regard,
the so-called white areas or venue of open mass campaigns
would be expected to expand, along with the intensification
of protest movements by exploiting national and local issues.
These activities are likely to strongly complement the
intensification of NPA armed offensives in the so-called
guerrilla fronts or red areas.” (Note: Bayan — the
umbrella group of Bayan Muna and other leftist parties —
managed to get six of its members elected to Congress under
the “party list” system, established in 2001. This allows
political parties representation in Congress if they receive
at least two percent of the national vote. Party list
candidates do not represent any particular geographical
district. End Note.)


¶9. (C) Embassy has raised concerns in meetings with GRP
officials about the killings of known left-wing activists.
Historically, however, few perpetrators of extrajudicial
killings have ever been arrested, much less convicted of
crimes. Authorities have not even filed any charges related
to the recent rash of murders of journalists (ref a) over the
past several months despite widespread public concerns and
vows of action by the GRP. The culture of violence remains
strong in the Philippines, often more linked to local
vendettas, personal feuds, and competing business interests
than political agendas. However, the NPA insurgency remains
bloody and many Filipinos feel frustrated by the inability of
the AFP to defeat the NPA or of the GRP to offer attractive
peace terms. Sadly, more violence is inevitable.



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