Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09MANILA1308.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1308
2009-06-19 07:50
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3565
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1308/01 1700750
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 190750Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4438
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001308

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, G/TIP, AND INL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2019
TAGS: KTIP KCRM PHUM ELAB RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE REACTIONS TO 2009 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT

REF: STATE 60453 (PHILIPPINES 2009 TIP REPORT: PRESS
GUIDANCE AND DEMARCHE)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney,
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Official Philippine reaction to the country’s
Tier Two Watch List ranking in the 2009 Trafficking in
Persons Report has been one of muted disappointment, largely
due to effective Mission pre-briefing with a wide range of
anti-trafficking stakeholders in the government, from the
Foreign Affairs Secretary to the Deputy Presidential
Spokesperson at the Presidential Palace. Speaking to the
press on June 18, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the
government would formally clarify its record against
trafficking to U.S. officials, but added the U.S. was
“well-meaning in trying to make this report.” Justice
Secretary Agnes Devanadera, who assumed her post June 15,
ordered prosecutors to resolve pending trafficking cases
within 60 days. The most severe reaction during Post’s June
16 demarches came from a Department of Justice
undersecretary, who publicly called the Watch List
designation a “demoralizing” outcome, though his staff were
hopeful they could use the report to justify an increased
budget for the government’s anti-trafficking council. The
report’s release, widely covered in print and broadcast
media, coincided neatly with the Ambassador’s participation
in a June 18 turnover ceremony for a U.S. donation of
anti-trafficking equipment to the Philippine National Bureau
of Investigation. As one of several recent events
highlighting U.S. support for the Philippines’ fight against
trafficking, the ceremony allowed the Ambassador to focus on
the precise area for improvement — convictions of
traffickers — in a positive way that illustrated
U.S.-Philippine partnership. A conference to be hosted next
week by DHS/ICE Manila on forced child labor and trafficking
will provide another opportunity for the Ambassador to show
U.S. support for Philippine efforts against these crimes.
Though disappointed with the Watch List ranking, Philippine
officials are now thinking ahead, searching for ways to
increase the number of trafficking convictions. END SUMMARY.

MUTED DISAPPOINTMENT
——————–

¶2. (C) Official Philippine reaction to the country’s Tier Two
Watch List ranking in the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report
has been one of muted disappointment. Executive Secretary
Eduardo Ermita said June 18 that the government would seek to
formally clarify to U.S. officials the Philippine
government’s progress against human trafficking, but he added
that the Philippines “will not protest,” because the U.S. was
“well-meaning in trying to make this report.” The lack of
convictions, he noted, was due to the slow movement of cases
through the courts, not government inaction against the
nation’s trafficking problem. To preempt negative reactions
to the report’s release, Mission officials on June 16
pre-briefed a broad range of anti-trafficking stakeholders in
the government. The Ambassador brought the report to the
attention of Foreign Secretary Romulo, who, though
disappointed, acknowledged the challenges that make it
difficult to obtain prosecutions. Department of Justice
Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, Chair of the Inter-Agency
Council Against Trafficking, expressed to the DCM his utmost
disappointment with the downgraded ranking, noting that the
Philippines made great strides in 2008 against trafficking,
including an increase in cases filed and a case against a
foreign national. Convictions, he noted, were the
responsibility of the country’s independent courts, which
follow their own timetable for hearing cases and issuing
decisions, resisting the influences of the Executive Branch
of government and the Department of Justice.

PRIVATE REACTIONS OF SENIOR OFFICIALS
————————————-

¶3. (C) Over breakfast June 19 at the Chief of Mission
residence, Malacanang Palace Executive Secretary Eduardo
Ermita expressed the Arroyo Administration’s disappointment
over the ranking. He asked the Ambassador’s advice as to how
best to address the problem and, at the least, restore the
Philippines to Tier Two status. The Ambassador responded
that the Philippines’ lack of successful convictions
contributed to the perception that progress had been
inadequate, and noted that in Secretary Clinton’s remarks
during the Report’s unveiling, she highlighted that the
Report was not a list of failures, but instead a roadmap
showing where further progress was required. The Ambassador
also alluded to an event the previous day (see para. 6), in

MANILA 00001308 002 OF 002

which a U.S. donation of law enforcement equipment to combat
trafficking highlighted U.S. resolve to assist the
Philippines in every way possible. Ermita underscored his
government’s intention to strengthen its efforts at
countering every form of trafficking.

¶4. (C) Separately, in a June 18 meeting, Acting Secretary of
Justice Agnes Devanadera told senior Embassy officers that
the Department of Justice took the TIP report seriously — as
she held a highlighted copy of the report in her hand — and
readily acknowledged that the Arroyo Administration had much
work to do. She described trafficking in persons as a
problem that could only be solved by engaging agencies
throughout the entire Philippine justice system, including
investigators at the Philippine National Police, prosecutors
at the Department of Justice, and judges who control the pace
of prosecutions. She indicated that she had begun a
full-court press, impressing upon senior Philippine officials
in various agencies the importance of attacking the problem
transparently, and of living up to the country’s obligations
under international trafficking treaties. With this intense
focus, she expressed hope that the number of convictions
would rise significantly in the next year.

SPOKESPERSONS APPRECIATE THE PREVIEW
————————————

¶5. (C) Post notified the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Deputy Presidential spokespersons on June 16 to advise them
of the report’s imminent release, alerting them that the U.S.
saw this report as an opportunity for all parties to bring
attention to a terrible global problem that affects the
Philippines and the U.S. Post’s press officer conveyed that
the U.S. would remain committed to continuing to work with
our Philippine partners to combat human trafficking. The
spokespersons were thankful for the preview, and the Deputy
Presidential Spokesperson said the government would convene
an internal meeting to coordinate its public response.

U.S. DONATION BOLSTERS PHILIPPINE EFFORTS
—————————————–

¶6. (C) The Ambassador and National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) Director Nestor Mantaring presided over a June 18
turnover ceremony marking the U.S. donation of crime-fighting
equipment to the NBI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division. With
USD 35,000 from a 2007 State Department INL grant, Post
procured a passenger van, ten computers, two surveillance
cameras, and bullet proof vests for use by NBI officers in
their anti-trafficking surveillance and rescue operations.
The Ambassador in her remarks called attention to the global
nature of trafficking, the need for convictions, and the
importance of cooperation among all stakeholders to stop
human traffickers, whose methods of deception continue to
improve. With ten journalists present at the event, the
Ambassador highlighted the important role media play in
trafficking prevention by raising public awareness. Granting
a plaque of appreciation to the Ambassador, Mantaring thanked
the U.S. government for its support and pledged that the NBI
would continue to pursue human traffickers. As one of
several recent U.S.-supported events that have highlighted
the U.S. role in helping the Philippines fight trafficking,
including a high-profile USAID-MTV concert last month in
Manila, the ceremony allowed the Ambassador to focus on the
precise area for improvement — convictions of traffickers —
in a positive way that illustrated U.S.-Philippine
partnership.

MOBILIZING FOR IMPROVEMENT
————————–

¶7. (C) The government is already examining ways to position
cases so that they can achieve more convictions. Cabinet
Secretary Silvestre Bellow convened a June 18 meeting at the
Presidential Palace with law enforcement officials and
prosecutors to examine ways to improve the outcome of
trafficking prosecutions. An announcement by Justice
Secretary Devanadera on June 15 — the day before the TIP
report’s release — ordered prosecutors to resolve
outstanding human rights cases within 60 days. This “fast
track” channel for cases that involve the killing of
journalists, human trafficking, and narcotics will help
propel these cases through clogged judicial dockets.

KENNEY

   

 

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