Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/11/05MANILA5317.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA5317
2005-11-13 12:03
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005317

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, AND L/EAP
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO
SECDEF/OSD/ISA/AP FOR ALLEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/14/2015
TAGS: PREL MARR ASEC PHUM PGOV PINS KCRM RP
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ARROYO AND FOREIGN SECRETARY ROMULO COMMENT ON SUBIC RAPE ALLEGATIONS

REF: A. MANILA 5261
¶B. MANILA 5231
¶C. MANILA 5138

Classified By: (U) Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. President Arroyo expressed appreciation to
visiting EAP DAS Eric John and Charge Jones for USG
cooperation in the investigation of six US Marines allegedly
involved in the November 1 alleged rape of a Filipina in the
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), but warned of a
political firestorm if the Marines left the country. Charge
said that to ensure continued close cooperation, both US and
Filipino officials should avoid surprises, maintain control
over comments to the press, and postpone any discussion of
changes to custody or jurisdiction to allow the investigation
to take its course. All six Marines have hired local counsel
and are preparing counter-affidavits for submission to the
Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office on November 18. Charge
received assurances from Acting Foreign Secretary Seguis and
Visiting Forces Agreement Commission (VFACOM) Executive
Director Paredes that Philippine authorities will immediately
provide Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agents
access to key witnesses in the case. As the media debates
whether or not the GRP should request custody of the accused
Marines, the Filipino driver involved in the incident has
publicly recanted his testimony alleging the Marines “gang
raped” the victim. We can expected continued emotional
coverage of and reaction to developments in this case. We
will continue to work hard to ensure full and fair
investigations, including by NCIS, to advance our shared
interest in seeing justice prevail. END SUMMARY.

ARROYO WELCOMES US COOPERATION, BUT
STRESSES MARINES SHOULD NOT LEAVE THE COUNTRY
———————————————

¶2. (C) During a November 11 meeting with President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo (septels), DAS John assured her that the USG
viewed with great seriousness the alleged rape case involving
six US Marines (reftels). Arroyo highlighted the great
domestic interest in the case. While expressing appreciation
for US cooperation, she emphasized that Filipinos wanted
assurances that the suspects would not leave the country.
Charge assured President Arroyo and Foreign Secretary Romulo
of continued US cooperation, noting that the United States
had kept the Marines in country to be available to Filipino
investigators. He said that to ensure continued close
cooperation, both US and Filipino officials should avoid
surprises, maintain control over comments to the press, and
postpone any discussion of changes to custody or jurisdiction
to allow the investigation to take its course.

¶3. (C) In an earlier meeting the same day at the Department
of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Foreign Secretary Romulo praised
the Embassy’s handling of the incident thus far, noting the
Charge’s outreach to the Senate and House Foreign Affairs
Committee Chairmen, as well as SBMA officials. Charge Jones
emphasized the USG’s commitment to following both the letter
and the spirit of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the
necessity for continued close coordination between the two
governments. He stressed the importance of investigating the
charges, including pursuing the NCIS investigation, and not
dwelling on questions of custody and jurisdiction. DAS John
noted that the Embassy would serve as the USG point of
contact dealing with the case. The Charge expressed
appreciation for the DFA’s role thus far as the official GRP
spokesman on the case and urged Romulo to ensure that the DFA
continued to be the sole voice of the GRP on this matter.
Romulo pledged continued close coordination with the Embassy,
noting the Philippine Department of Justice (DoJ) would
determine what legal steps the GRP had to pursue.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
——————-

¶4. (SBU) All six Marines have now hired local counsel, who
are preparing counter-affidavits for submission to the
Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office on November 18. They
remain in US custody in Manila under JUSMAG supervision. We
have received no/no request from Philippine authorities for
custody.

FORMAL REQUEST FOR COOPERATION IN THE NCIS INVESTIGATION
——————————————— ———–

¶5. (SBU) Charge received assurances from Acting Foreign
Secretary Seguis and Visiting Forces Agreement Commission

SIPDIS
(VFACOM) Executive Director Paredes that Philippine
authorities will immediately provide Naval Criminal
Investigative Service (NCIS) agents access to key witnesses
in the case. Paredes said he would personally arrange for
NCIS investigators to interview the driver of the van.
Embassy sent a diplomatic note to the DFA on November 14,
formally requesting such access under Article V, paragraph 7,
of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). NCIS separately
wrote to the Philippine DOJ and the Olongapo City
Prosecutor’s Office reiterating its need to interview the key
witnesses and other potential sources of information related
to the case.

MEDIA REACTION
————–

¶6. (U) The November 11 editorial of the generally
pro-Opposition “Philippine Daily Inquirer” criticized VFACOM
Executive Director Paredes for his earlier comments that the
VFA did not specifically require the accused Marines to
remain in the country, saying he seemed to be siding with the
Americans rather than defending the interests of Philippine
citizens. The editorial argued that, if the VFA was silent
as to whether US servicemen accused of crimes should be kept
in Philippines, the GRP should nonetheless ensure that the
accused remained in the country until the conclusion of the
investigation and trial. The issue has generated numerous
editorials and columns in the Philippine press. Philippine
Star publisher Max Soliven echoed the argument, saying it was
not enough to make the accused Marines available during the
preliminary investigation; they had to remain within the
country so that they could be surrendered to the justice
system once they were formally charged. Constitutional
expert and law professor Fr. Joaquin Bernas, on the other
hand, noted in his column that Article V, paragraph 6, of the
VFA does not oblige the USG to keep the accused Marines
within Philippine territory.

¶7. (SBU) Vice President Noli De Castro interviewed the
driver of the vehicle, Timoteo “Jun” Soriano y Laroga, during
his popular AM radio show broadcast on November 12. During
the interview, Soriano claimed he had been coerced by SBMA
officials into making his initial testimony accusing the
Marines of “gang rape,” and claiming that NCIS officials
witnessed SBMA officials hitting him. (Note: NCIS officials
did not witness such abuses or mistreatment. End note.)

¶8. (U) In DAS John’s and Charge Jones’ press conference with
national media the evening of November 11, John noted that
the Embassy would serve as the conduit and speak for the USG
on the Subic case, and referred questions about the issue to
the Charge. Charge Jones reiterated the USG’s goal is “to
allow the investigation to proceed, to establish the facts,
and to make sure that justice is served.” He noted that
under both the Philippine and US justice systems, the accused
are innocent until proven guilty, and highlighted the
benefits of joint exercises to the armed forces of both
countries and the people of the Philippines.

¶9. (C) Comment: The Subic case has, predictably, touched a
raw nerve in the Philippine psyche. We can expect continued
heightened media interest throughout the investigation and
possible trial — interest that will help shape the reaction
of Philippine officials and politicians. Thus far, however,
the DFA and VFA Commission have acted responsibly, despite
the turmoil.

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

   

 

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