Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/02/07MANILA599.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA599 2007-02-22 09:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO4399
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0599/01 0530903
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 220903Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5384
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000599

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2017
TAGS: PTER PREL PHUM RP
SUBJECT: NEW COUNTERTERRORISM LEGISLATION NOT PERFECT, BUT WORTHWHILE

REF: A. MANILA 560
¶B. MANILA 465

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

¶1. (C) The “Human Security Act of 2007,” which President
Arroyo will soon sign into law following its recent passage
by the Philippine Congress (ref a), reflects the Philippine
government’s determination to improve its arsenal of tools in
going after terrorists who continue to inhabit or transit the
Philippines. Various versions had been under consideration
in each house of Congress over the past decade, usually
facing stiff opposition from the Commission on Human Rights
and NGOs, all with vivid memories of the excess of the
Marcos-era martial law era. The final version addressed most
of these concerns at the insistence of Senate Minority Leader
Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.; the safeguards he introduced into the
bill (detailed in ref b) were sufficient to win a quick stamp
of approval from the bicameral committee and then the lower
house. We believe the bill is a step in the right direction
and we will monitor its implementation closely.

¶2. (C) Senior Philippine government contacts as well as
House Speaker Jose de Venecia freely admit that the final
legislation is not perfect, but have commented that it is
nonetheless a welcome expansion of powers. In many cases,
the bill merely legalizes activities — notably, electronic
surveillance — in which government agencies had long
covertly engaged. (Or, as the “Hello, Garci” wiretapping
scandal from the 2004 elections demonstrated, not so
successfully covert.) The result has been that contents of
such surveillance have been inadmissible in court, which the
new legislation will now make possible and which should lead
to stronger legal cases for the prosecutors to pursue.

¶3. (C) Senator Pimentel, in a discussion with Pol/C on
February 12, admitted that the provisions for compensation in
cases that did not end in conviction would require fixes in
the new Congress that will form after the May 2007 elections.
He said that he had not even contemplated that people who
likely were truly guilty of terrorism might get off due to
faulty prosecutions or other legal loopholes, and thus would
be theoretically eligible for compensation. He added that he
intended in the next session to set caps on the total amount
of compensation that would be available, noting that the sums
could get very high very quickly. He predicted, however,
that such cases of compensation would be extremely rare,
pointing to the Marcos-era human rights victims who have
still never received the compensation promised to them by
successive Congresses.

¶4. (C) Experts have noted that the Philippine legal system
provides opportunities to sue for compensation and/or civil
damages in cases of wrongful arrest or mistreatment by law
enforcement authorities. While the provisions in the new
legislation go beyond this by making compensation virtually
automatic in all cases not ending in conviction, the
likelihood that government agencies will ever truly pay such
compensation is questionable. Nor is it genuinely likely
that law enforcers or prosecutors will refrain from pursuing
cases in fear their agencies’ budgets might eventually
suffer. Probably more intimidating are various provisions
with penalties against law enforcers for alleged “malicious”
use of the provisions, for abuse, or even for failing to meet
some reporting requirements. However, on the whole, we
believe government officials will nonetheless seek to bring
successful terrorism cases under the new law despite these
apparent disincentives given the high visibility of such
cases and the government’s high priority in prosecuting
terrorists.

¶5. (C) One unfortunate omission in the legislation is the
lack of provisions related to combating terrorist financing.
The failure to include such provisions may jeopardize the
Philippine’s participation (since 2005) in the Egmont Group,
which has been more-or-less provisional in light of an active
Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and promises
that counterterrorism legislation would eventually address
this issue directly. The U.S. Treasury advisor to the AMLC
as well as Embassy’s Justice Attache believe that the Egmont
Group will nonetheless continue to welcome Philippine
participation in light of good cooperation, but the AMLC
executive director is less confident. We will urge the
Philippine Congress and government to rectify this omission
in subsequent legislation quickly.

¶6. (C) Embassy has offered to continue to work with
Philippine legislators and officials to examine ways to

MANILA 00000599 002 OF 002

improve and further strengthen counterterrorism legislation
and implementation, which our Philippine contacts have
welcomed. Our public and private remarks have been
supportive of the legislation as a positive step, and we will
continue to encourage the Philippine government to use its
powers carefully but effectively, even as we jointly seek
additional improvements in the Philippine legal arsenal
against terrorists.

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

KENNEY

   

 

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