Sep 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07MANILA1928.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1928
2007-06-08 08:41
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9455
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1928/01 1590841
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 080841Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6901
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 001928

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS AND INR/EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/12/2012
TAGS: PTER MOPS PGOV PHUM RP
SUBJECT: NPA ELECTION EXTORTION: BICOL REGION 2007

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

¶1. (C) Summary. In Bicol, the Communist New People’s Army
(NPA) reportedly garnered unprecedented sums from its
extortion activities in the run-up to the May 14 mid-term
elections. Local politicians have criticized security forces
for failing to protect them during the campaigning. The good
news is that international sanctions have been noticeably
successful in drying up sources of external funding and that
the NPA is increasingly turning into no more than a ragged
string of individual bandit/extortion gangs. The bad news is
that the NPA still has the ability to terrorize so much of
the rural countryside, to shake down even mainstream
politicians, and successfully to rely on threats of violence
— or individuals acts of terrorism — to get what it wants.
End Summary.

If You Don’t Pay, You Don’t Play
——————————–

¶2. (C) According to Philippine National Police (PNP)
regional director Police Superintendent Agnanayon Tira in
Albay province of Bicol region in southern Luzon Island, the
local NPA during the run-up to the May 14 mid-term elections
had imposed a “permit to win” upon candidates, which
required steeper extortion amounts than in 2004 even to enter
the area. He noted that these “permits” had been only
“experimental” during the 2004 elections but were nationwide
in 2007. Ramping up from “campaign taxes” for the “right” to
campaign in NPA-influenced areas in earlier elections, the
NPA in 2007 increased the amount and added an outright ban on
entry to those who refused to pay, he claimed. Another PNP
source alleged that the victorious candidate in the Albay
governor’s race had transferred 37 million pesos (USD
800,000) into the NPA’s coffers. According to a PNP
field-grade officer, this particular candidate’s contribution
was just one of many. Outgoing Albay governor Fernando
Gonzales, who lost the race, told emboff that he had been
“denied entry” into the entire south of Albay Province, and
attributed this to insufficient security guarantees to
campaign there. He blamed his defeat directly on the NPA.

¶3. (C) According to Legaspi City chief of police Adel
Castillo, the NPA’s election “taxes” in 2007 were of
“unprecedented size,” and demonstrated the “growing strength”
of the NPA. He commented that the willingness of candidates
to cooperate with the NPA raised questions about exactly what
the candidates expected from the NPA in return, as well as
about what future promises might be part of the deal.
Regional level PNP officers separately vowed to monitor
possible continued relationships between victorious
candidates and the NPA, albeit with “great caution.” They
expressed concern that pursuing criminal cases against
individual politicians would lead to accusations of
“Marcos-era heavy-handedness.”

¶4. (C) Castillo added that the NPA needed to generate more
revenue because its own expenses had increased due to greater
financial obligations for its fighters and their families at
a time when its outside sources of income, especially from
Europe, had dwindled due to the NPA’s terrorist designation.
Referring to the self-exiled Philippine Communist leader,
Castillo commented that “Jose Sison is behind the times. His
own people in the Philippines have reached the best solution:
major taxation to stay in business.”

It Only Takes a Few
——————-

¶5. (C) In the Bicol Region, NPA violence increased in the
months prior to the elections, according to PNP sources. One
PNP regional command intelligence officer said that there had
been 18 murders attributed to the NPA in March alone. In
December 2006, NPA forces had attacked a PNP substation in
Camarines Sur province, resulting in two dead and two wounded
police officers. Following this bold attack, the PNP had
raised the minimum number of personnel assigned to each
station to 20, regardless of community size. A rare but
audacious urban assassination of a retired police officer in
Legaspi City — also attributed to the NPA — helped further
to increase the level of intimidation of the political class,
they noted.

¶6. (C) Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City in Camarines Sur
separately admitted that “all it takes are a small number of
faceless armed men” to create an “atmosphere of
intimidation.” He said that he did not dare to leave the
city limits after dark. According to Albay Governor

MANILA 00001928 002 OF 002

Gonzales, the mere fact they were armed and outside the law
gave the NPA cadres “great power beyond their numbers.”
Without their weapons, they were “nobodies,” he added.
Governor Gonzales accused both the PNP and the AFP of being
“insufficiently active” during the election campaign and of
not providing enough protection to him and other candidates.
Mayor Robredo claimed that the AFP and PNP had assumed only
“defensive postures,” despite continued NPA harassment.

¶7. (C) PNP sources underscored that the actual number of
armed NPA fighters in Bicol region was small, but noted that
the latest intelligence estimates by the PNP and Armed Forces
of the Philippines had revised upwards NPA personnel strength
and areas of influence in Bicol. However, in the entire
Bicol region, there were only an estimated 350 armed “cadres”
as well as an additional 200 or so active but unarmed
supporters. Of these, 60 armed NPA guerrillas operated in
Camerines Sur province alone. AFP 9th Division commander
Brigadier General Arsenio Arugay separately disputed the new
intelligence estimates. He described the estimates as
reflecting a “bureaucratic” tendency by AFP and PNP personnel
to “exaggerate” the number of NPA-influenced localities.

Comment
——-

¶8. (C) Payoffs to the NPA are one of the dark but badly
kept secrets of Philippine elections, despite earlier pledges
by the government to crack down on anyone aiding and abetting
the NPA and Communist Party of the Philippines in any way,
including payment of “campaign fees.” The good news is that
international sanctions have been noticeably successful in
drying up sources of external funding and that the NPA is
increasingly turning into no more than a ragged string of
individual bandit/extortion gangs. The bad news is that the
NPA still has the ability to terrorize so much of the rural
countryside, to shake down even mainstream politicians, and
successfully to rely on threats of violence — as well as
individual acts of terrorism — to get what it wants.

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.
KENNEY

   

 

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