Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/07/08MANILA1706.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1706
2008-07-18 08:24
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #1706/01 2000824
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180824Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1331
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0268
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001706

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2018
TAGS: PHUM PREL RP
SUBJECT: RAMPING UP INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF LABOR AND OTHER EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

REF: A. STATE 10273
¶B. MANILA 667

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Philippine Government is ramping up the
investigation and prosecution of labor killings following
intense discussion between various Mission officials and key
Philippine government leaders, even as the country witnesses
a downward trend in extrajudicial killings (EJKs) for the
second straight year. Three agencies in particular have been
responsive to Post’s repeated efforts to focus their
attention on EJKs and they are now taking more proactive
roles in addressing labor-related killings and
disappearances. The Philippine National Police (PNP) have
tasked a special investigative team to commence a
data-collection and analysis effort for labor-related cases.
The Department of Justice has undertaken a review of
labor-related cases for special monitoring and has identified
12 incidents that will be investigated, while its Task Force
211, charged with EJK prosecutions, has made progress in
several high-profile cases, including one labor-related case.
Recently appointed Labor Secretary Marianito Roque is
coordinating with other concerned Cabinet officials on how
best to structure an International Labour Organization (ILO)
technical mission into the country. END SUMMARY.

POLICE PLEDGE MORE ACTIVE ROLE
——————————

¶2. (C) Ambassador and senior Mission officials have followed
up on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) demarche
(ref a) delivered in February to Philippine government
officials (ref b). Post continues to engage the top levels
of the Philippine government to reinforce the urgency of
substantive action to address the GSP subcommittee’s concerns
both in investigating abductions and murders and in allowing
greater freedom for trade unions throughout the country. In
a July 3 meeting with Polcouns, Philippine National Police
(PNP) General Jefferson Soriano, chair of PNP’s Task Force
USIG, which is charged with investigating EJKs, committed to
set up a special investigative team focused specifically on
labor-related abductions and killings. He said that PNP
would begin collecting evidence and information from local
police commands in whose districts incidents were alleged to
have occurred, noting it would take several weeks to gather
information from the field and analyze the data. Soriano
offered to present to the Embassy the results of the inquiry
as soon as they become available.

MONITORING LABOR KILLING PROSECUTIONS
————————————-

¶3. (C) Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Ricardo
Blancaflor, Head of DOJ’s Task Force 211, a body charged with
prosecuting EJK cases, told Polcouns that Task Force 211 was
closely monitoring four labor-related cases and was compiling
a master list of cases thought to be labor-related. In a
June 27 letter, Blancaflor provided further details about
DOJ’s efforts, listing three labor-related cases currently
under prosecution; eight other cases Task Force 211 was
actively investigating that involved labor organizations and
businesses, such as the KMU-affiliated Kadamay organization,
the National Federation of Sugar Workers, Hacienda Luisita,
and the Nestle Cabuyao factory; and 12 other labor-related
incidents at different businesses spanning the past several
years that Task Force 211 had identified for follow-up.

CABINET OFFICIALS TO WEIGH ILO MISSION
————————————–

¶4. (C) Ambassador on July 16 discussed the GSP issue with
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, and encouraged
Romulo to support an International Labour Organization (ILO)
technical mission to review workers’ rights protections in
the Philippines. Secretary Romulo said he fully supported
the mission and would reach out to his Labor colleague, newly
named Secretary Marianito Roque, to make his support known.
Separately, in a July 7 meeting, the political and economic
counselors encouraged Secretary Roque to move rapidly on the
proposed ILO technical mission. Counselors also urged Roque
to issue regulations that define “essential services” in the
context of the Philippine government’s assumption of
jurisdiction in labor disputes and to follow up in
strengthening other worker rights protections. Roque

MANILA 00001706 002 OF 003

expressed deep concern about any labor-related killings, and
reiterated the Philippine government’s opposition to such
crimes. He also noted that he discussed with other agency
heads and the office of President Arroyo the possibility of
an ILO technical mission to the Philippines. Roque said he
met ILO Director of International Labor Standards Cleopatra
Doumbia-Henry in Manila in late April, and that the
Philippine government and ILO were still discussing what the
parameters of an ILO mission might be.

¶5. (C) Separately, Felicitas Bay, Director of International
Labor Affairs at the Labor Department, said the Department
was currently negotiating with the ILO International Labor
Standards Division regarding the conditions for the proposed
technical mission and expressed confidence that the visit
would take place. She said the Department had sent formal
communications to various government agencies presenting the
ILO proposal, background of the ILO convention governing
labor rights, and a list of allegations of labor rights
violations. Bay said Secretary Roque was positive about the
ILO mission but, given his recent arrival at the Department,
sought input from other agencies before taking a position. A
contact at the Manila ILO office noted that, unlike former
Secretary Brion, Roque was clearly receptive to the visit and
was hopeful it would go forward.

MOVEMENT ON ONE LABOR CASE AND OTHER EJK CASES
——————————————— –

¶6. (U) Significant movement in six EJK cases, including one
labor case, illustrates that the DOJ’s Task Force 211 is
capable of pushing prosecutions forward in spite of the
inefficiencies of the Philippine judicial system. On May 21,
following the failure of the Philippine National Police (PNP)
to deliver two arrest warrants, the AFP finally surrendered
one of its members who is a suspect in the 2005 killing of
union leader Ricardo Ramos, who had led wage negotiations at
Hacienda Luisita, owned and operated by the Cojuangco family
of former President Aquino. Five non-labor related cases
have also moved forward. The first conviction this year for
the murder of a political activist occurred on June 10, when
a man was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing leftist
peasant organization leader Jose Doton in May 2006. The
trial in Manila of 11 defendants in the 2000 murder of
political adviser Buddy Dacer and his driver by rogue
elements of the PNP has been ongoing since their arraignment
in January 2007. It is expected that the prosecution case
will rest in September. Trials will begin in Cebu on August 4
and October 1 for suspects in the unrelated murders of two
journalists from Aklan province. Finally, murder charges
have been filed against three jail personnel in Metro Manila
for the 2006 death of a 17 year-old boy in their custody.

RENEWED VIGOR IN THE ARMED FORCES
AND THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
———————————

¶7. (U) Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the
Commission on Human Rights have approached EJKs with renewed
vigor. New AFP Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano in May
assured the public he would personally turn over to civilian
authorities any AFP members involved in summary executions
and human rights abuses. Yano also issued strict orders to
his field commanders to implement the national policy against
human rights violations. With regard to the Commission on
Human Rights (CHR), there is fresh hope that under the watch
of the CHR’s new Chair, Attorney Leila de Lima, the
Commission will take a more active role in solving EJK cases.
Since her assumption of duties in May, De Lima has increased
the visibility of human rights issues through her staunch
public criticism of military and police abuses. She supports
prosecutorial immunity for persons, including military
agents, who could testify on political killings and
disappearances. She also wants to use an allocation of 25
million pesos (about $556,000) from the President to
establish an independent forensics center to solve EJK cases.

OBSERVER COMMENDS THE DECLINE IN EJKs
————————————-

¶8. (U) In his June 2 report to the UN Human Rights Council in
Geneva, UN Rapporteur Philip Alston praised the Philippine
Government for major improvements in handling human rights
abuses, noting that incidents have decreased significantly,
as reported by the vocal human rights group Karapatan, which
had counted 70 EJKs in 2007 and only 14 thus far in 2008.

MANILA 00001706 003 OF 003

President Arroyo and the Philippine Commission on Human
Rights welcomed Alston’s constructive comments and reiterated
that freedom and democracy are core values of President
Arroyo,s administration. With capacity building programs
institutionalized and stronger cooperation with civil society
organizations, the Commission hopes to more effectively
monitor the government and provide protection to citizens,
especially in areas with major military operations.

KENNEY

   

 

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