Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/05/06MANILA2193.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA2193 2006-05-26 04:09 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO8491
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2193/01 1460409
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 260409Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1146
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002193

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PTER PINS PREL RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS DENOUNCES EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS

REF: MANILA 2096

¶1. (SBU) Summary: The Philippine Commission on Human
Rights has announced plans to hold a public hearing to
investigate the recent murders of journalists and leftist
activists. In response, President Arroyo has called for an
end to the killings. Meanwhile, a popular radio commentator
was killed on May 22 in Palawan, sparking local protests. In
a separate case, police have arrested an alleged Communist
hit man for the killings of leftist activists in 2003 and
2004, though party officials deny ties to the suspect. End
Summary

——————————–
Human Rights Watchdog Speaks Out
——————————–

¶2. (SBU) The Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) —
an independent government monitoring body — has announced it
is ready to hold a public hearing to investigate the recent
killings of journalists and leftist activists, stating, “the
government is accountable” for the deaths whether or not
police or military forces were involved. Such killings have
been on the rise in recent months, with 29 leftist activists
and six journalists slain this year. CHR Commissioner
Purificacion Quisumbing told poloff on May 25 that the CHR
recently held a dialogue with Task Force Usig (reftel) — the
police task force responsible for the criminal investigation
of the cases — in a cooperative effort to share data.
Quisumbing noted that a lack of CHR resources makes it
difficult to conduct thorough human rights investigations,
and hopes the Commission can begin to form stronger working
ties with other government agencies in an effort to solve
these cases. No date has been set for the public hearing,
but Quisumbing believes it will happen within the next week.

——————-
The Palace Responds
——————-

¶3. (SBU) In response to growing pressure, President Arroyo
has ordered security officials to put an end to the wave of
violence. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a press
conference that, “the President has put her foot down” and
that if security forces hasten their investigations, “we
should be able to put a stop to the killings.” Though the
President’s directive clearly acknowledged the problem,
Malacanang denied any government culpability. On May 24,
Presidential Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye disputed Amnesty
International’s recently-released 2006 Annual Human Rights
Report, which said a lack of confidence in both the
government and the criminal justice system has contributed to
public tolerance of extra-judicial killings and human rights
abuses in the country. Bunye said the report contained,
“misplaced conjectures”, stating, “there is no such thing as
a climate of impunity in the Philippines.”

——————————-
More Violence, but Some Arrests
——————————-

¶4. (SBU) Despite both official statements and public
outcries, the killings continue. On May 22, radio
commentator Fernando “Dong” Batul was killed in Puerto
Princesa City, Palawan, in the western Philippines. A former
vice-mayor and city council member, Batul was the sixth
member of the media killed in 2006 and the 79th journalist
killed in the Philippines since 1986, according to the
National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP). The
brutal murder of Batul, a very well-known radio personality,
has sparked outrage. Acting Pol/C, visiting Puerto Princesa,
witnessed a “noise barrage” protest against the killing by
drivers of three-wheeler taxis in the city center on May 24.
In addition, a crowd gathered at the city’s largest cathedral
to denounce the attack and offer prayers for the slain
journalist. According to press reports, Batul had been
receiving death threats, which started after he agreed to
interview a leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan.
He had also been a vocal critic of Puerto Princesa Mayor
Edward Hagedorn. Many residents placed blame for the killing
on the Mayor’s doorstep, saying he had the most to gain from
Batul’s death — though there is no evidence linking Hagedorn
to the killing. On May 24, a Philippine National Police
(PNP) officer was arrested in connection with Batul’s
slaying. The police officer is being held at the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) district office in Palawan
while the investigation continues.

MANILA 00002193 002 OF 002

¶5. (SBU) In a separate development, police announced on May
22 that they had obtained a confession from an alleged
Communist leader for the 2003 and 2004 killings of leftists
Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. According to military
officials, Delfin de Guzman is the alleged Acting Secretary
of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) regional
party committee in Central Luzon. De Guzman has been in the
custody of the military since May 11, though he has not been
formally charged. The CPP/NPA has denied any links to de
Guzman in press statements on May 23.

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (SBU) The uptick in killings of leftist activists and
journalists has sparked both public outcry and official
action in the Philippines. At the same time, NPA attacks on
both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the
Philippine National Police (PNP) continue, with the NPA
recently boasting on its website that since January 2005, it
has killed 304 AFP troops. Mission will continue to press
local, national, police and military officials to uphold the
rule of law and to bring the perpetrators of all attacks to
justice.

Kenney

   

 

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