Oct 032014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/03/06MANILA1075.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA1075 2006-03-08 09:05 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO1789
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1075/01 0670905
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080905Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9813
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEABND/DEA WASHDC
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0138
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001075

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, DRL/CRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KOCI SOCI OPRC RP
SUBJECT: “NO CNN CAMERA CREWS!” — CHILD PRISONERS IN THE PHILIPPINES

REF: 05 MANILA 2555

¶1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified — Please
handle accordingly.

¶2. (U) Summary: A recent visit by emboffs to a jail in a
town near Manila highlighted in a microcosm the problem of
incarcerated children in the Philippines. On the national
level, the GRP is trying to address the situation and Mission
is examining ways to help. CNN recently aired a candid
report on the plight of these children, which may prod the
GRP to further action. The problem faced by child inmates is
serious, with NGOs believing that children housed in adult
jails are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse, recruitment into
gangs and forced labor. End Summary.

—————————
Visit to Prison near Manila
—————————

¶3. (U) On February 22, poloff and pol LES visited a
municipal jail in Dasmarinas, Cavite, located roughly an
hour’s drive south of Metro Manila. The jail houses over 350
inmates, most of them adult males. At the time of the visit,
the jail held 16 male juveniles. Jail officials claimed the
juveniles ranged in age from 14-17 (though emboffs suspected
that at least one was much younger). The 16 were held in the
same cramped cell with one toilet and no beds. There were
two large wooden shelves for all to sleep on. A few books
and an ancient television provided the only relief from
boredom. The juvenile inmates were let out of their cell
once a week for an hour of basketball, plus once or twice a
day for religious and primary education classes. Many have
languished in the jail for months. While not housed in the
same cells as adults, the jail is very small and the 300-plus
adult males are only yards away from the children.

¶4. (SBU) Jail officials contended that the main problem
regarding juvenile prisoners was a lack of resources, coupled
with a lack of focus on the issue by some in the national,
regional and local levels of government. During poloff’s
separate meetings with both the governor and vice-governor of
Cavite Province, it was clear that the issue was simply not
on their radar screens. The vice-governor candidly admitted
that a multitude of problems (such as infrastructure,
education and economic concerns) result in the neglect of
this issue. The governor himself was only vaguely aware of
NGO plans to build rehabilitation homes for male juvenile
offenders in his province.

¶5. (SBU) Fortunately for the 16 children housed in the
Dasmarinas jail, help will arrive soon. Poloff and pol LES
toured a comfortable, soon-to-be-opened home for them
(located next-to, but outside the prison walls) that was paid
for with local government funds. During a meeting with
poloff, the town mayor said that he could not rely on
provincial or national government funding to solve the
problem, and thus found the resources for the new facility
within his own budget. He noted, however, that his actions
were not the norm and asserted that most local governments
continued “to ignore” the problem.

——————————–
Trying to Grapple with Situation
——————————–

¶6. (U) Regarding the national situation of child prisoners
writ large, the GRP says it is trying to deal with the
situation by separating all children from the general adult
population. It admits, however, that it cannot afford to
house all children in separate facilities as of this time.
As reviewed in reftel, NGOs are trying to assist where they
can by helping construct separate facilities.

¶7. (U) With the help of the USG, some legislative action to
deal with the child prisoners’ issue has been taken. In
January 1999, The Children’s Legal Bureau — an NGO funded by
USAID — prepared a draft bill on juvenile justice reform and
launched a lobbying campaign to push for passage. In
December 2004 — five years after its introduction — the
Senate finally passed its version of the bill, followed by
the House in February 2005. The bills are expected to be
reconciled soon, then sent to the President. The objective
of the legislation is to: prevent the detention of children
in adult jails; raise the age of criminal responsibility from

MANILA 00001075 002 OF 002

9 to 12 (House version) or 15 (Senate version), and; provide
for the referral of juvenile offenders to preventative as
well as rehabilitative programs. Through the USAID-funded
Legal Accountability and Dispute Resolution Project (LADR),
the Juvenile Justice Group (a coalition composed of NGOs, the
Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development and
other concerned organizations) the Mission stands ready to
assist with implementation of the bill once it is signed into
law. USAID is also helping fund The Asia Foundation’s Jail
Decongestion project. This project is not focused on
children per se, but it is hoped that decongestion can assist
the prison and jail system deal more adequately with all
inmates of any age.

¶8. (U) The Mission’s law enforcement agencies (embodied by
the Law Enforcement Working Group, or,”LEWG”) is also
focusing on additional steps in this area. The LEWG is
currently planning to meet with top Philippine officials
responsible for juvenile justice, including the head of the
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the Secretary
of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
and officials from the Department of the Interior and Local
Government (DILG). One key focus of these discussions will
be the problem of child prisoners. Further, Mission will be
holding a jails/prisons best practices seminar in April 2006
that will deal with a wide range of issues, including
juvenile prisoners.

——————
CNN gets attention
——————

¶9. (U) In a report prepared by ITV, CNN International ran a
second installment on child prisoners in the Philippines on
February 1. In their first report aired six months ago, the
news crew visited several Metro Manila jails posing as relief
workers, all the while filming the conditions with a hidden
camera. The piece proved embarrassing to the government and
President Arroyo publicly stated that steps would be taken to
solve the problem. Months later the crew returned to the
same jails and their graphic footage showed no substantial
improvements. Government officials were embarrassed by the
glaring media spotlight. Indeed, before the visit to the
Dasmarinas jail, poloff received three separate telephone
calls from the warden, seeking repeated reassurances that “no
CNN camera crews” would accompany her on the tour. Observers
have told us that the airing of the embarrassing CNN reports
will act to prod the GRP to focus on making progress on this
matter.

——-
Comment
——-

¶10. (SBU) As demonstrated by the situation in Dasmarinas, the
problem faced by child inmates is serious. The exact scope
of the problem is not clear, but probably thousands of
children are impacted nationally. NGOs believe that children
housed in adult jails are highly vulnerable to sexual abuse,
recruitment into gangs and forced labor. In light of the bad
publicity flowing out of the CNN reporting, the GRP appears
to have this matter on its mind and Mission will continue to
work with it on ways to help alleviate the problem.

Jones

   

 

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