Oct 032014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/07/07MANILA2262.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA2262
2007-07-03 09:07
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1991
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2262/01 1840907
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 030907Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7271
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 002262

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/03/2017
TAGS: PHUM PREL MOPS RP
SUBJECT: MELO COMMISSION FRUSTRATED BY ONGOING KILLINGS

REF: A. MANILA 777
¶B. MANILA 609
¶C. MANILA 468
¶D. MANILA 2198

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

¶1. (C) Summary. The Melo Commission wrapped up its current
mandate on June 30, and will submit a second report to
President Arroyo by the end of July. While impressed with
the number of new measures that the government has
instituted, Commission members remain frustrated that the
killings continue. They were unable to meet with key leftist
NGOs, despite earlier indications from those groups of a new
willingness to cooperate. The Embassy continues to raise
the issue of unlawful killings with our interlocutors, and
will maintain our active efforts to seek additional ways in
which the U.S. Government might provide additional assistance
to enable the Philippine government better to pursue these
cases. End Summary.

¶2. (C) In a meeting with Pol/C on July 3, Melo Commission
chairman retired Supreme Court Justice Melo and Commission
members Bishop Pueblos of Butuan, University of the
Philippines Regent Gonzalez, and Chief State Prosecutor Zuno
confirmed that their mandate had expired on June 30 and that
they did not believe the President would extend it again.
They are now preparing a second report to the President (ref
c reported on the first), but admitted that they have few new
proposals to add to their earlier list. Justice Melo
commented favorably on how President Arroyo had moved so
quickly to adopt many of his recommendations earlier this
year (ref b), but admitted that implementation was likely
imperfect, at best.

¶3. (C) Justice Melo said that the next report would again
call upon the President to make even more explicit her
absolute opposition to unlawful and extrajudicial killings,
while noting that the President had already spoken out
publicly and often in opposition and had also vowed to bring
any and all culprits to justice, regardless of who they were.
Justice Melo added that he would explore the possibility of
drafting a proposed law that would enshrine the principle of
“command responsibility” to ensure that individual AFP
commanders would necessarily face legal punishment not only
for such killings by their subordinates but also for any
failure actively to investigate and bring culprits to
justice. He admitted that such a law might have a difficult
time making it through Congress, but underscored that the
continuing violence against leftist activists and journalists
had given the Philippines a “black eye” internationally.

¶4. (C) Commission members explained that they had tried to
set up meetings with various leftist groups, notably the NGO
Karapatan — which has made the highest claims for unlawful
killings nationwide — but earlier hopes fizzled as Karapatan
and other groups began to make “impossible demands,” notably
trying to pick and choose with which Commission members they
would be willing to meet. Justice Melo said that it also
became increasingly clear to him that Karapatan in particular
might use such a meeting as to make propaganda points against
the government and in favor of leftist party list groups
during the campaigning for the May 14 mid-term elections.

¶5. (C) Justice Melo complained that the Armed Forces of the
Philippines leadership still seemed to be “in denial” about
the possible participation by troops in some killings,
despite the establishment of a new AFP Human Rights Office to
investigate such allegations. He lamented the under-funding
of this office and the junior rank (Lt. Colonel) of its chief
as serious impediments to effective investigations. He
welcomed possible assistance for this office from the U.S. as
part of the Philippine Defense Reform (with one U.S. Subject
Matter Expert already imbedded in the AFP Inspector General’s
Office) and from the European Union following its recent
Needs Assessment Mission (ref d), with which he met.

¶6. (C) Chief State Prosecutor Zuno lamented that more than
400 vacancies within the prosecutor corps nationwide made it
almost impossible vigorously to pursue these cases, despite a
mandate from the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice
to prioritize such cases. Only significant new funding for
salaries might address this deficiency, given that private
sector salaries even for new graduates were significantly
better than for prosecutors. Many prosecutors also quickly
leave these jobs to become judges, where the salary scales
are better, he admitted. Zuno noted more positively that a
long-awaited Executive Order on police/prosecutor cooperation
had gone through final vetting to ensure its full compliance
with the rules of court, and would likely go to the President
for signature within weeks.

MANILA 00002262 002 OF 002

¶7. (C) Comment: The distinguished composition of the
Commission is a tribute to the government’s desire for some
credible recommendations, and the government also deserves
credit for quickly acting on most of the key items.
Frustrations remain high that some killings nonetheless
continue, and that court cases are few, with few convictions
so far, however. The Embassy continues to raise the
importance of making progress in bringing culprits of
unlawful killings to justice in our discussions with
Philippine officials from the President on down, and will
maintain our active efforts to seek additional ways in which
the U.S. Government might provide additional assistance to
enable the government better to pursue these cases, such as a
likely upcoming grant from USAID of US$1 million to assist
the Philippine Commission on Human Rights.

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

KENNEY

   

 

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