Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09MANILA2469.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2469
2009-11-27 07:39
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1313
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2469/01 3310739
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 270739Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5913
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 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 03 MANILA 002469

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KCRM KUS ASEC RP
SUBJECT: MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE: INFLUENTIAL MAYOR AND POLICEMEN IN CUSTODY

REF: A. MANILA 2465 (AMBASSADOR PRESSES)
¶B. MANILA 2448 (CLAN VIOLENCE)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, reason: 1.4 (b and d).

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (C) Moving with unwonted speed after the brutal November
23 massacre in Maguindanao Province that left at least 57
persons dead — including 28 from media organizations — the
Philippine government took into custody a key member of a
powerful Muslim clan and said it would charge him with
multiple murders. The Philippine Justice and Interior
Secretaries oversaw the arrest of Datu Unsay municipality
Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., and his transfer to National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters in Manila. In a
call to Justice Secretary Devanadera, the Ambassador
underscored the need for a swift and thorough prosecution,
saying that Philippine credibility was at stake. Secretary
Devanadera concurred that prompt judicial action was vital to
restore the rule of law and forestall reprisals. She also
suggested other Ampatuan family members might face arrest,
but that it was politically sensitive given the clan’s
long-time support for the Arroyo Administration. The Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disarmed militia members in
Maguindanao, while authorities detained over 20 militiamen
and four police officers, placing two other police officers
on “administrative relief.” On the political front, the
ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party expelled the top members of the
Ampatuan clan, the ruling coalition’s strongest backers in
Muslim Mindanao. End Summary.

TOP SUSPECT ARRESTED
——————–

¶2. (SBU) The authorities took Datu Unsay Mayor Andal
Ampatuan, Jr., into custody November 26 and announced their
intention to file multiple murder charges against him in
connection with the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao
province on November 23. Mayor Ampatuan denied culpability,
claiming renegade Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander
Umbra Kato as the likely culprit. Energy Department
Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, the Mayor’s uncle, said the
Mayor agreed to surrender to the authorities after Ampatuan
clan elders convened on November 25 to discuss the situation
and then met with Mayor Ampatuan.

¶3. (C) Relatives of the victims identified Mayor Ampatuan as
the on-site leader of the approximately 100 armed men who
intercepted the convoy of Mangudadatu family members and
supporters en route to file gubernatorial candidacy papers
for a leading Mangudadatu clan member. On November 26, an
unidentified man with his face concealed appeared on an Al
Jazeera news broadcast, claiming he had been among the armed
group that committed the murders. The man said “Andal
himself said anyone from the Mangudadatu clan — women or
children — should be killed,” and also alleged that some
assailants raped the women before murdering them. An RSO
contact (protect) told us November 27 that, although there
were signs of rape, forensic specialists had not yet
confirmed this.

¶4. (C) Mayor Ampatuan, accompanied by Jess Dureza, President
Arroyo’s advisor on Mindanao affairs, was flown from
Maguindanao to Manila, where he is in National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) custody. Dureza subsequently told the
media that, on departure from Maguindanao, the helicopter
carrying him and Ampatuan was hit by bullets fired from the
ground. (An NBI official told a LEGATT official that
Ampatuan had requested NBI headquarters as the site for his
detention. The NBI privately confirmed the government would
file multiple murder charges against Ampatuan on November 27.
The NBI has assigned this case to its counterterrorism unit.)

AMBASSADOR URGES THOROUGH INVESTIGATION
—————————————

¶5. (C) In a November 27 call to Justice Secretary Agnes
Devanadera, who is personally heading the government’s
prosecution effort, the Ambassador welcomed the Secretary’s
attention to the case, and stressed that the United States
viewed the judicial process in this savage incident as vital
in reasserting the rule of law in Maguindanao and in the
runup to the May 2010 election. The Ambassador noted that
the investigation was being watched around the world, and it

MANILA 00002469 002 OF 003

was vital for Filipino credibility that these cases move
ahead vigorously, and not get sidetracked or forgotten.

¶6. (C) Secretary Devanadera called the past few days “very
hard,” both emotionally and politically, as this was a tough
issue with many complications. She said she took charge
personally to ensure this wasn’t handled as just a law
enforcement or military issue, but as a legitimate judicial
process. She foresaw much hard work ahead, but pledged
continued efforts to get to trial quickly, both for Mayor
Ampatuan’s high-profile case as well as others. Such prompt
action was critical to forestall reprisal attacks and
reassure world opinion.

MORE AMPATUANS FACING ARREST?
—————————–

¶7. (C) In an aside to the Ambassador, Secretary Devanadera
confided that she was at Malacanang Palace this morning
talking to senior officials because she believed there were
other members of the politically powerful Ampatuan family who
also may need to be arrested in the case. Noting that the
Ampatuans were the Arroyo Administration’s strongest
supporters in Mindanao, Devanadera said she was trying to
convince the Palace of the necessity to broaden the arrests,
but said she “needed to work with Malacanang on it first.”

DEATH TOLL UPDATE
—————–

¶8. (SBU) The Broadcasters Association of the Philippines has
informed us that, of the 57 confirmed fatalities, 24 were
journalists, two were media cameramen, and two were
media-employed drivers. RSO contacts (protect) told us that
the authorities are no longer excavating the crime scene.

POLICE, MILITIAS
—————-

¶9. (SBU) A military spokesman claimed that most of the
perpetrators had fled toward mountainous areas of
Maguindanao, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
was in pursuit. AFP troops on November 26 moved into the
capital of Maguindanao province and took control of some key
government buildings. The AFP reported it has already
deactivated approximately 350 men who were in the local
Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU — an armed
militia), and the AFP would deactivate and disarm more CAFGU
units in Maguindanao. At least 20 CAFGU members were under
arrest on suspicion of participating in the massacre,
according to press reports.

¶10. (SBU) As previewed in ref B, Interior and Local
Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno told the press on November
26 that four police officers were in custody in Manila after
witnesses claimed they were at the scene of the killings:
Senior Superintendent Agusana Maguid; Chief Inspector Sukarno
Dicay; SPO2 Badawi Bakal; and Senior Inspector Ariel Diongon.

¶11. (SBU) The media also reported that two other police
officers — Inspector Armando Mariga and Inspector Saudi
Mokamad — were on “administrative relief” because of
suspicions they partook in the massacre. The government has
reportedly flown multiple witnesses to Manila, and has taken
depositions from witnesses who were under the protection of
the victimized Mangudadatu clan.

RULING PARTY OUSTS AMPATUANS
—————————-

¶12. (SBU) The ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party on November 26
expelled Mayor Ampatuan as well as Maguindanao Governor Andal
Ampatuan, Sr., and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, the brother of Mayor Ampatuan.
Nevertheless, in a maladroit comment, presidential deputy
spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo told the press, “I don’t think
the President’s friendship with the Ampatuans will be
severed. Just because they’re in this situation doesn’t mean
we will turn our backs on them. It doesn’t mean that they
are no longer our friends, if ever they indeed committed the
crime.”

AMBASSADOR’S PUBLIC COMMENTS
—————————-

¶13. (U) Speaking to the press on November 26 while traveling

MANILA 00002469 003 OF 003

to Mindanao with CODEL Filner, the Ambassador denounced the
massacre as “appalling and barbaric.” She urged the
government to conduct an immediate and thorough
investigation, without setting a specific deadline that could
encourage people to find a few scapegoats for expediency’s
sake. The government should also ensure security in
Maguindanao and prevent any recurrence of such violence, the
Ambassador said. She pledged that U.S. assistance projects in
Maguindanao would continue.

COMMENT
——-

¶14. (C) The government appears to have mobilized its
resources and top officials effectively to date in response
to the Maguindanao massacre, which was egregious even by the
standards of the Philippines’ provincial warlords. We
suspect the Ampatuan elders recognized the horrific nature of
this massacre and pragmatically decided Mayor Ampatuan would
have to bear responsibility. While it is too early to know
whether the Philippines’ enfeebled law enforcement and
judicial systems can deliver real justice in this case, the
disbandment of Maguindanao militias and the taking into
custody of Mayor Ampatuan may, at least for now, forestall
reprisals from the Mangudadatu clan. The Ambassador is
continuing to reach out to senior government officials to
welcome the steps they have taken so far and encourage
sustained attention to this shocking incident.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.