Oct 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09MANILA2491.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2491
2009-12-02 09:31
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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O 020931Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5954
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002491

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KJUS KWMN RP
SUBJECT: MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE: MORE CHARGES LIKELY; PRIVATE ARMIES EYED; SECURITY FORCES REASSIGNED

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Senior Palace official Jess Dureza told the
Ambassador that — eight days after the massacre of 57 people
in Maguindanao province — the situation there remains tense,
the government is broadening its investigation, and many
Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) personnel were negligent in the incident.
Prosecutors and judges received anonymous threats but are
pressing forward. They formally charged Ampatuan clan member
Andal Ampatuan, Jr., with 25 counts of murder and stated that
they have not found evidence of rape. Two AFP commanders
were relieved of their duties for alleged “lapses” in
leadership, although their troops are not being investigated
for direct involvement in the murders. The events in
Maguindanao have highlighted the problem of politicians’
private armies and the central government’s toleration of the
armed groups. END SUMMARY.

“MANY ARE RESPONSIBLE”
———————-

¶2. (C) In a December 1 conversation with the Ambassador,
Palace Secretary Jesus “Jess” Dureza, President Arroyo’s
advisor on Mindanao affairs and crisis coordinator for the
November 23 massacre, said the situation in Maguindanao
province is tense and likely to deteriorate further. Dureza
said the scale and scope of the massacre is “beyond
comprehension,” and the government is likely to charge
additional regional officials — possibly including police
officers — since “many groups had a hand in this.” He was
also critical of armed forces commanders in the province,
whom he suspects knew about some of the criminal activity but
did not take action to prevent it. The Ambassador
underscored our consistent message to the government,
stressing that we are deeply troubled by the murders and that
a rapid, transparent, and thorough investigation is vitally
important for the Philippines.

INVESTIGATION PROCEEDING DESPITE THREATS
—————————————-

¶3. (U) On December 2, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said
publicly she had received anonymous threats seeking to
dissuade her from vigorously pursuing charges against members
of the Ampatuan clan. Devanadera said threats had also been
received by judges and court personnel in Cotabato City,
where some cases arising from the November 23 massacre were
expected to be heard, and that the government had taken steps
to ensure the safety of legal personnel. She added that her
team had filed for the trial venue to be moved to Manila.

¶4. (U) Also on December 2, prosecutors formally charged Andal
Ampatuan, Jr. — the Mayor of Datu Unsay and son of clan
chief Andal Ampatuan Sr. — with 25 counts of murder.
Regarding the charges, which are based on the results of the
first 25 autopsies, Devanadera said the government had strong
evidence from witnesses that Mayor Ampatuan carried out the
massacre, and that more witnesses were coming forward. An
investigator also told the media that a firearm seized from
an individual linked to the Ampatuans was matched to shell
casings recovered at the crime scene.

NO EVIDENCE OF RAPE
——————-

¶5. (SBU) Despite earlier reports, investigators have so far
found no evidence that rapes were perpetrated during the
November 23 incident. The forensic experts who carried out
the autopsies are conducting DNA tests to further verify that
negative finding. Some of the female victims, pants were
open, but officials are hypothesizing that that may have
resulted from post-mortem swelling in the tropical heat, or
from the rough handling that the corpses received when they
were buried by the perpetrators. Some corpses had wounds
near their genital areas, but some victims were shot many
times, so it is not known whether these were deliberate acts
of genital mutilation.

PRIVATE ARMIES UNDER SCRUTINY
—————————–

¶6. (C) The events in Maguindanao have highlighted the problem
of politicians’ private armies and the central government’s
toleration of the armed groups. For many years, political
leaders in throughout the Philippines, but especially in
Muslim Mindanao, have drawn on funds from patronage and
corruption to establish militias of differing degrees of

MANILA 00002491 002 OF 002

legality. We estimate that the Ampatuan clan maintains a
private army of up to 2,000 men — who are often better armed
and equipped that their PNP and AFP counterparts — using
wealth accumulated by a combination of legitimate business,
strong arm tactics, and corruption flowing from their holding
of the governorships of the Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM) and Maguindanao Province.

¶7. (C) Historically, the central government has turned a
blind eye to the militias, for a variety of reasons.
Regional politicians support the central government’s fight
against Muslim insurgent groups, they are often politically
allied with the President, and Manila likely also questions
the underfunded AFP’s capacity to successfully take on the
militias. However, the Maguindanao massacre has caused a
re-examination of the issue and, at a minimum, the government
is cracking down on the Ampatuan clan’s armed groups. On
December 1, AFP troops surrounded the residential compound of
Zaldy Ampatuan, who is Governor of the ARMM and the brother
of the accused massacre mastermind. The central government
stated that the action has been taken to prevent firearms
from being “spirited out” of the property and to enforce the
suspension of the ARMM and Maguindanao governors from their
duties.

ARMED FORCES COMMANDERS RELIEVED
——————————–

¶8. (C) The AFP relieved two of their ground commanders in
Maguindanao province for “lapses” in leadership. Sixth
Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Alfredo Cayton and
601st Brigade Commander Col. Medardo Geslani were reassigned,
although an AFP spokesman emphasized that their troops are
not yet being investigated for direct involvement in the
murders. The spokesman said that the two officers were
relieved “to give way to an impartial and transparent
investigation” based on complaints that the two officers
refused to provide security to the Mangudadatu clan members
whose attempt to file for election ended in the massacre.

COMMENT
——-

¶9. (C) In his conversation with the Ambassador, it was clear
that Secretary Dureza was deeply appalled not just by the
killing of 57 civilians, women, and journalists, but also by
the growing numbers of groups and individuals — including
elected officials, military officers and law enforcement
officials — involved in the Maguindanao massacre either by
acts of commission or omission. He said that the government
would “go all the way” in pursuing the Ampatuan clan and
implied that family patriarch Andal Ampatuan, Sr., could also
be arrested. Relieving the two armed forces commanders is a
positive step, demonstrating that both the government and the
AFP leadership are treating the November 23 massacre with the
seriousness required by such a shocking human rights
violation. Investigators also appear to moving carefully to
gather evidence for prosecution. Their initial findings that
no rapes occurred suggests that this crime was not primarily
gender-based, but rather that the perpetrators intended to
murder whomever they found in Mangudadatu convoy,
irrespective of gender.
KENNEY

   

 

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