Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/07/07MANILA2284.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2284
2007-07-06 08:07
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4666
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2284/01 1870807
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 060807Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7296
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002284

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2017
TAGS: PTER PGOV PHUM RP
SUBJECT: LIKELY DELAY IN START OF NEW COUNTER-TERRORISM LEGISLATION

REF: A. MANILA 752
¶B. MANILA 599
¶C. MANILA 560
¶D. MANILA 465

Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard, reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary. Doubts are growing that the Philippines’
landmark counter-terrorism legislation will come into effect
on July 15, due to complications over the drafting of
implementing regulations, the need to translate and
distribute the legislation and the regulations, and the
necessity of educating law enforcement and national security
officials about its contents fully. While potentially a
significant new tool, the built-in human rights protections
have caused many government officials to worry about its
effectiveness, while human rights groups have expressed
concern that they may be “targets.” There may be some
further tinkering with the Act in the next Congress, but the
Administration vows to use the tools in the Act as fully as
possible to eradicate terrorism in the Philippines, while
still protecting human rights. End Summary.

¶2. (U) President Arroyo on March 6 signed into law the
“Human Security Act of 2007” (reftels), with a proviso that
the law would not come into effect until July 15, or two
months after the mid-term elections. An inter-agency working
group, chaired by the National Intelligence Coordination
Agency, then began work on implementing rules and
regulations. Malacanang Palace publicly insisted on June 29
that the act would indeed still take effect on July 15, and
on July 5 proclaimed that the President had already
“instructed the soon-to-be-formed Anti-Terror Council” to
“lead the information campaign on the Human Security Act in
partnership with other departments,” focusing “not only on
the provisions of the law but its contextual backdrop — the
existence of terror cells throughout our region and the
world,” as well as on the government’s “duty to keep our
country safe; to prevent terrorists from playing god with
people’s lives.” In public remarks on July 3, President
Arroyo vowed to use the provisions of the law to “crush the
terrorist movement in the country…and also make us more
effective in fighting terrorism together with our ASEAN
brothers.” She pledged in the remaining three years of her
term to “deal a strategic defeat to the insurgency, modernize
the military in its twin roles of defense and development,
advance the protection of human rights, push terrorism back
and give peace in Mindanao, and expand our alliances for
regional and global security.”

¶3. (U) Even as various government officials have now begun
publicly and privately to backpedal on the actual start-up
date, human rights groups and others have expressed
long-standing concerns about becoming “targets” of the new
law. Some have voiced special concerns that National
Security Advisor Norberto Gonzales, during his tenure as
Officer-in-Charge of the Department of National Defense in
July, will seek to use provisions of the Act to take
unprecedented steps against the Communist Party of the
Philippines/New People’s Army and perhaps against legal
leftist groups. Others have noted fears of possibly
over-extensive use of new electronic surveillance provisions,
allegedly even against journalists. The National Union of
Journalists of the Philippines has publicly called parts of
the new Act potentially a “threat to press freedom and the
people’s right to know.” In response, Chief of Staff of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines General Hermongenes Esperon
on July 5 specifically offered assurances that the government
would not use the new Act to crack down on members of the
media, but rather to capture terrorists.

¶4. (C) According to Police General German Doria, head of
the Philippine National Police’s new Human Rights Affairs
Office, the logistics of coordinating the 46-agency group
drafting the implementing regulations have been daunting. He
predicted little hope that these comprehensive and
complicated documents could possibly be ready by July 15.
Once ready, there will be the additional challenges of
translating them into Tagalog and other key languages and of
disseminating their contents to the relevant offices
throughout the country. Separately, National Bureau of
Investigation Director Nestor Mantaring described to Pol/C
the frustration in the law enforcement community about the
built-in human rights protections in the Act. He noted
still-unresolved concerns about how the law enforcers could
effectively go after terrorists with the additional tools of
the Act without risking the severe financial penalties that
the Act prescribed. He could offer no realistic projection
of when a consensus draft version of the implementing
regulations might be available, and cited ongoing contentious

MANILA 00002284 002 OF 002

discussions within the inter-agency group.

¶5. (C) Xerxes Nitafan, Secretary of the Senate Committee on
Public Order and Illegal Drugs, separately commented to
poloff that the Act as it currently stands was
“unimplementable,” adding that Administration supporters are
already working on amendments and revisions for consideration
at the next legislative session, which will begin on July 23.
Nitafan noted that the likely next Committee Chairman will
be one of four Senators who is a graduate from the Philippine
Military Academy: Panfilo Lacson, Antonio Trillanes IV,
Rodolfo Biazon, or Gregorio Honasan.

¶6. (C) Atty. Narcisa Guevarra, Secretary of the House
Committee on Justice, admitted that the Act was “not perfect”
(noting that the original House version had been quite
different) and would clearly need “fine tuning as we go
along.” She added that incumbent chairman Simeon Datumanong
would likely step down from this Committee. Possible
replacements included Congressmen Luis Villafuerte and Edcel
Lagman, but she commented that the distribution of all
committee chairmanships are part and parcel of the
still-ongoing jockeying for the Speaker’s position.

¶7. (C) Comment: The Act is clearly ambitious and difficult
to translate into workable terms that will satisfy both the
law enforcers and the human rights community. Many have also
predicted legal challenges to various provisions up to the
Supreme Court in the coming months and perhaps years.
Despite these difficulties, the Administration is committed
to finding solutions that will give it additional needed
tools against terrorism, while ensuring the fullest
protection of the rights of its law-abiding citizens.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm
KENNEY

   

 

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