Sep 172014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/04/06MANILA1726.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1726 2006-04-20 08:19 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO8736
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1726/01 1100819
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 200819Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0604
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001726

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2016
TAGS: PGOV ECON KCOR SOCI RP
SUBJECT: MAJOR ANTI-CORRUPTION CASES MOVE FORWARD, SLOWLY

REF: A. MANILA 141
¶B. MANILA 1342

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

¶1. (C) Summary: The criminal trial on corruption charges of
former Comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) Major General Carlos Garcia will begin on April 25.
The court has issued warrants for the arrest of Garcia’s wife
and three sons, but they remain in hiding. Despite Garcia’s
conviction in a military court martial charges in December
2005, AFP Chief of Staff Senga has not yet affirmed the
ruling, nor sent it to President Arroyo for final approval or
pardon. In recent testimony, former president Joseph Estrada
vehemently denied all charges in his long-running corruption
trial. Guilty verdicts would send a strong positive signal
against corruption, but public expectations are limited that
the courts will come down hard on either defendant, at least
any time soon. End Summary.

————
Garcia Trial
————

¶2. (U) Criminal proceedings against retired Major General
Carlos Garcia should begin on April 25 in the Sandiganbayan,
the Philippines’ anti-graft court, after it denied Garcia’s
motion to quash his case due to various technicalities on
April 16. Garcia faces charges of plunder for stealing
millions while he was AFP Comptroller as well as four perjury
charges. On March 9, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for
Garcia and also for his wife and three sons for their alleged
involvement in concealing ill-gotten wealth. Garcia is
already behind bars at Camp Crame but his family remains at
large; the family members are unlikely turn up for the April
25 arraignment. The GRP has discovered 41 bank accounts in
the names of Garcia, his wife, and children, as well as
numerous vehicle and property titles both in the Philippines
and in the U.S.

———————————
AFP Still Reviewing Court Martial
———————————

¶3. (C) Despite Garcia’s December 2005 conviction in a
military court martial, AFP Chief of Staff Generoso Senga has
not yet affirmed or quashed the ruling, as he is formally
required to do within a “reasonable timeframe,” according to
the AFP’s Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAGO). Even
after his expected signature, a Board of Military Review
(appointed by JAGO) will next have to present the case file
to President Arroyo for final approval or pardon. The
President’s decision will be final. Gabriel Claudio,
President Arroyo’s chief political adviser, told Dep Pol/C
that “stopping corruption was a high priority matter” to
Malacanang, emphasizing that the President took Garcia’s
crimes “very seriously” and would not issue him a pardon
“under any conditions.”

——————
Estrada Denies All
——————

¶4. (U) Former president Joseph Estrada remains under house
arrest as his almost five-year-old trial on corruption
charges proceeds. Estrada finally took the stand in March
(ref a); he testified again on his birthday, April 19,
following a special mass that the Sandiganbayan had
authorized. In front of Estrada and many of his political
supporters, Bishop Antonio Tobias of Quezon City urged
Estrada to move on and to forget about the possibility of a
political comeback. Tobias went on to ask Estrada for
“forgiveness” of the Catholic Church’s role in his 2001
ouster.

¶5. (U) Estrada’s final appearance on the stand should take
place on April 26. Next steps will be for the prosecution
and defense teams to conduct cross-examination of witnesses,
with the possibility of new witnesses. Estrada remains
defiant, vehemently maintaining his innocence. He has
heatedly disputed the testimony of the prosecution’s star
witness, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, that
Estrada had demanded and received payoffs from illegal
gambling syndicates. Another charge against Estrada is for
stealing tax money.

MANILA 00001726 002 OF 002

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (C) Guilty verdicts in both of these high profile cases
would send a powerful signal that there is no immunity from
punishment, even at high levels, for corrupt activities. The
Philippine legal system nonetheless enables defense lawyers
to drag cases out for years, while failure to use continuous
trials limits the pace of judicial review. Although
Estrada’s personal testimony somewhat revived lagging public
interest in his trial, public expectations are probably
limited that the courts will come down hard on either Estrada
or Garcia, unfortunately, at least any time soon.

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

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
Kenney

   

 

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