Oct 032014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09MANILA1716.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1716
2009-08-13 09:10
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1490
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1716/01 2250910
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130910Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4876
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001716

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2019
TAGS: ASEC CASC PGOV PHUM PREL PTER RP
SUBJECT: MELISSA ROXAS CASE UPDATE

REF: A. MANILA 1397
¶B. MANILA 1363
¶C. MANILA 1219
¶D. MANILA 1113

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Melissa Roxas, the 31-year-old
Filipino-American community activist who alleges she was
abducted and tortured in May by individuals she believed to
be Philippine security forces, returned to the Philippines
July 21. She has since offered testimony to the Philippine
Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Philippine House of
Representatives’ Committee on Human Rights, and an Appeals
Court, repeating her earlier account of events in May. A
right-wing Philippine politician on July 25 provided a video
and photos purportedly showing Roxas training with communist
New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in a remote terrorist camp,
although she denies having been involved in NPA training or
attacks. Ms. Roxas has so far rebuffed all attempts by the
Mission and the FBI to offer assistance. Ambassador and
other Mission staff have underscored to Philippine
interlocutors at all levels the seriousness with which we
view the security of Americans present in the Philippines.
END SUMMARY.

Background
———-

¶2. (C) Ms. Roxas claims that, while working as a community
healthcare activist with the leftist Bagong Alyansang
Makabayan (“Bayan”) organization in Tarlac Province, she and
two male Filipino companions were abducted May 19 by armed
and hooded assailants, and tortured during six days of
confinement. After Roxas resurfaced in Manila on May 25, the
Embassy’s American Citizens Services Section, Regional
Security Officer, and Legal Attache all attempted to make
contact by telephone in order to offer assistance, but
persons who identified themselves as Roxas family members
declined to facilitate her communication with Mission
officers. Roxas’s two male companions, Juanito Carabeo and
John Edward Handoc, have apparently since gone into hiding;
one or both are reportedly active NPA members facing charges
for past terrorist acts. After Ms. Roxas departed the
Philippines and returned to the United States in early June,
she spoke by phone with the FBI’s Los Angeles field office,
but declined FBI requests to interview her about her
experiences. On numerous occasions since, including a July 1
meeting with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo
(reftel A), the Ambassador has emphasized that we take the
safety and security of Americans very seriously, and would
welcome any new information that may become available in the
case.

Roxas Returns to Philippines
—————————-

¶3. (C) Ms. Roxas returned to the Philippines July 21,
conditioning her stay on the provision of protection by the
Commission on Human Rights (CHR), rather than Philippine
police. She recounted her May experiences at a July 23 CHR
hearing. CHR Chair Leila de Lima afterwards indicated that
Roxas’s description of sounds and other features at the
location where she was held might be consistent with the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Fort Magsaysay in Nueva
Ecija Province. On July 29, Roxas testified before the
Philippine House of Representatives’ Committee on Human
Rights. An affidavit Roxas had originally submitted to the
Philippine Supreme Court on June 3 was referred to the Court
of Appeals, where she appeared July 30 to reaffirm the
affidavit’s contents.

Allegations of NPA Involvement
——————————

¶4. (C) In a July 25 press conference in Quezon City,
Philippine Rep. Jovito Palparan, a former Philippine Army
general who led a sharp crackdown against communist rebels in
the central Philippines, charged that Roxas was a member of
the communist New People’s Army (NPA), which is designated as
a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and EU. Palparan
stated that under the nom de guerre “Ka Aya,” Roxas trained
with NPA guerrillas in remote Aurora Province, on Luzon’s
sparsely-populated northeast coast. Palparan backed his
accusations with photos and a video showing a woman who
resembled Roxas undergoing military firearms training
exercises in a jungle encampment. Palparan and others have
also called on Ms. Roxas’s two male Filipino companions to
come forward and corroborate her account. While the AFP has

MANILA 00001716 002 OF 002

denied any involvement in Roxas’s alleged abduction and
torture and promised full cooperation in the investigation,
an AFP spokesperson stated July 28 that they are also
examining evidence of whether Roxas could be held criminally
liable for participation in NPA terrorist attacks in Aurora
and Quezon provinces since 2006.

Comment
——-

¶5. (C) Rep. Palparan’s assertions of Roxas’s involvement
with the NPA hit a special nerve in some government circles
and among the public, inasmuch as the group is widely viewed
as the nation’s most serious insurgent threat. Although
forty years after its founding as the armed wing of the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the NPA’s
numbers are down from its 1980s peak of some 25,000 fighters
to approximately 5,000, it remains active in disrupting
public security and destroying commercial infrastructure.
NPA ambushes and military encounters claim the lives of
approximately 150 police officers and soldiers per year;
another 50 or more security personnel, government officials,
and civilians identified by the NPA as “informants” are
killed via carefully premeditated assassinations. Attacks
against commercial interests involving communications and
transportation infrastructure also result in occasional
deaths, as well as significant economic losses (reftel C).
Whether or not Palparan’s allegations of Roxas’s NPA ties
turn out to be true, the Mission has continued to echo CHR
statements that Ms. Roxas’s political affiliations are
irrelevant to a full investigation of her alleged kidnapping
and torture. As the truth of Ms. Roxas’s experiences
continues to unfold, the Mission will remain closely apprised
of developments in the case and report significant
developments to Washington.
KENNEY

   

 

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