Oct 042014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA458 2007-02-09 02:13 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
DE RUEHML #0458/01 0400213
O 090213Z FEB 07



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 06 MANILA 4811

¶B. 06 MANILA 4464
¶C. 06 MANILA 4359

¶1. (SBU) Summary. Philippine police have succeeded in
filing additional cases in politically-related killings,
leading to at least four convictions and dismissals of two
police officials. They continue to investigate a large
number of other deaths of leftists and journalists claimed by
various groups, although they have ruled out many as stemming
from other, non-political motives. Many systemic problems
and inadequacies remain, which the police reported to the
Presidential-level Melo Commission for possible action.
(Septel will report on Justice Melo’s recommendations to
President Arroyo.) A senior military official now
participates in the police task force handling these
killings. Concerns are growing about additional political
violence in the run-up to the May 2007 elections. Police
insist that the Philippine government has a “firm policy of
protecting democratic space and fundamental liberties,” and
would not tolerate “the persecution or elimination of
radicals, journalists or opponents.” End Summary.

Progress report

¶2. (U) In a meeting with Pol/C and poloffs on February 8,
Philippine National Police (PNP) Task Force Usig Commander
General Avelino Razon provided an update on its
investigations into alleged cases of the slayings of party
list/militant group members and journalists over the past
five years (reftels). Out of a total of 115 cases involving
the former and 26 of the latter as of February 8:
— 70 cases have been filed in court (up from 67 in November
— ref a);
— 33 individuals have been arrested in 42 different cases;
— four individuals have been convicted (compared to 2 in
— 71 cases remain under active investigation (66 involving
— two police superintendents were relieved of duties in
2006 due to suspected involvement in such killings;
— in a new crackdown on weapons in 2006, police seized 181
“assorted firearms” and 5,420 “illegal weapons” and charged
4,540 suspects in court.


¶3. (U) Task Force Usig obtained (in some cases through
third parties) lists of alleged cases compiled by NGOs,
including the leftist human right group Karapatan (claiming a
total of 783 killings), the International Peasant Solidarity
Mission (claiming 22 deaths), Amnesty International (claiming
57 victims), the leftist Bayan Muna political party (claiming
116 deaths), the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines’ Monitoring Committee on peace talks with the
National Democratic Front (claiming 184 deaths), and National
Union of Journalists of the Philippines (claiming 45 slain
journalists). While there is some overlap on these lists,
General Razon said that police investigations had been able
to “exclude” 411 cases. In some cases, police succeeded in
locating the alleged “victim,” still alive. Other cases were
directly linked to narcotics, gambling, robbery, or other
criminal acts without a political component. In many cases,
police determined that the victim had no known party
affiliation that would suggest a political motive. Task
Force Usig continues to investigate 490 of the claimed
additional cases, although Karapatan refuses even to meet
with the Task Force, according to General Razon.


¶4. (SBU) The PNP statistics indicated a concentration of
the alleged leftist killings in Central Luzon and Southern
Tagalog (eastern Luzon) Regions, with no cases at all in
Western or Central Mindanao Regions or in the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao. General Razon confirmed
suspicions that the Luzon killings may be linked to the
then-presence of now-retired but still highly controversial
Major General Jovito Palparan, although he noted that there
was little or no hard evidence directly linking Palparan or
units under his command to such killings.

¶5. (U) For journalists, the most dangerous areas included
the Southern Tagalog Region but also Western and Central
Mindanao. General Razon confirmed that the suspected killers
in these handful of cases (only two in 2006, compared to five
in 2005 and six in 2004) were officials of Local Government

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Units retaliating against “hard-hitting reporters.” Two
mayors and two village (“barangay”) chairmen have already
surrendered, with charges now filed against them. Two police
and one soldier have been arrested in other cases.

Asking for help

¶6. (SBU) General Razon shared a copy of a November 21
letter he sent to Justice Jose Melo, head of the
Presidential-level Commission set up to provide policy
recommendations to the government on these “unexplained”
killings. His recommendations included:
— stronger police/prosecutor cooperation (General Razon
expressed appreciation for U.S. support for a proposed new
Executive Order to mandate such cooperation, which remains at
Malacanang for signature);
— more robust funding for a Witness Protection program;
— creation of a National Warrant of Arrest registry
accessible to all police units nationwide;
— establishment of a National Automated Ballistic
Information database to cross-check crimes; and,
— a strengthened rewards system.

¶7. (SBU) General Razon admitted that he had not yet seen
the Melo Commission report to the President, but claimed that
he remained in “constant coordination” with Justice Melo, who
will continue to offer advice to the President. (Pol/C has
an appointment to meet with Justice Melo on February 9.)

New military component

¶8. (U) Beginning in January 2007, a senior representative
of the Armed Forces of the Philippines — its head of the
Civilian Relations Service — became a part of Task Force
Usig. The new member (a Rear Admiral) has shared the AFP’s
documentation of additional killings allegedly perpetrated by
the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army,
which do not fall under the purview of Task Force Usig.
According to AFP statistics, since 2000 there have been 1,227
such killings, including:
— 384 AFP and PNP personnel;
— 75 former AFP and PNP personnel;
— 101 government officials;
— 67 rebel returnees and former CPP members; and,
— 599 other civilians.

¶9. (U) Few of these cases have been solved or their
perpetrators brought to justice, according to the AFP.
General Razon clarified that the PNP’s Inter-Agency Illegal
Action Group worked with AFP to investigate these cases, but
reluctance of witnesses to testify remained a significant
impediment to bringing culprits to justice.

Next steps

¶10. (SBU) In 2007, Task Force Usig will concentrate on
filing charges in at least 50 pct of all confirmed cases
involving leftists (the ratio now is 43 pct), as well as
additional cases involving journalists (where 81 pct of cases
already have charges filed), according to General Razon. He
continues to push for a required re-registration of all
firearms, which would provide not only updated data on who
has which guns but also additional revenues that would fund
the Task Force’s activities. He said that he continued to
work with the Department of Interior and Local Government to
ensure issuance of the proposed Executive Order on
police/prosecutor cooperation, but in the meantime has
strengthened informal police links with the Department of
Justice to ensure preparation of stronger legal cases with
adequate evidence. He noted that the PNP had succeeded in
obtaining a commitment from the National Sweepstakes
Organization to provide about 20 million pesos (about
USD400,000) in annual funding for the PNP’s Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group, which General Razon said
should help the PNP move many more cases from the
investigation stage to actual filing of legal charges against

¶11. (U) General Razon admitted concerns that political
violence related to the May 14 national, provincial, and
local elections were high, which the PNP hopes to mitigate by
strict enforcement of a special gun ban from the Commission
on Elections during the campaign cycle, as well as by tougher
checkpoints in violence-prone areas. He also expressed
concern about a possible surge in violence from the CPP/NPA
as it engages in its “usual” extortion from political
candidates desiring to campaign in CPP-NPA areas. He said

MANILA 00000458 003 OF 003

that Task Force Usig members had been buoyed when President
Arroyo noted their accomplishments during her January 31
speech on the occasion of the PNP’s 16th anniversary. The
President underscored that “the Filipino people are counting
on you once again to safeguard the ballot and clamp down on
guns and violence in the run up to the elections” and urged
that “we must do everything in our power to crack down on
political violence.”

¶12. (U) General Razon reiterated that the Philippine
government has a “firm policy of protecting democratic space
and fundamental liberties,” and would not tolerate “the
persecution or elimination of radicals, journalists or

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