Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/01/06MANILA241.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA241
2006-01-18 08:30
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

180830Z Jan 06
UNCLAS MANILA 000241

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, L/EAP, EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR KCRM CASC RP
SUBJECT: RESPONSES TO USG RETENTION OF CUSTODY IN SUBIC CASE

REF: A. MANILA 218

¶B. MANILA 192
¶C. MANILA 191
¶D. MANILA 134 AND PREVIOUS

¶1. (U) Summary. Philippine media on January 18 covered
extensively the Embassy’s public announcement that the U.S.
would invoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and retain
custody of four Marines accused of rape. Several politicians
voiced anti-VFA and/or anti-U.S. sentiments. Court officials
pledged to move forward with the case despite this
“disappointment.” Small numbers of protesters marched past
the Embassy on January 17 and 18, but no wider public
reaction has materialized. End Summary.

¶2. (U) Local media on January 18 provided extensive coverage
of the Embassy’s public announcement that the U.S. would
invoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and retain custody
of four Marines accused of rape (ref A), as well as of local
reactions. Several senators, including co-chairman of the
VFA Legislative Oversight Committee Miriam Defensor-Santiago,
demanded that the GRP should now re-examine the VFA.
Defensor-Santiago pledged to introduce a sense of the
Congress resolution demanding at least renegotiation of the
VFA for President Arroyo’s consideration. She declared that
the USG refusal was “no way to treat a co-equal or even a
valued ally,” a sentiment echoed by Senator Manuel Villar.
Opposition Senator Joker Arroyo (no relation to President
Arroyo) declared that the USG’s “intransigence will only
provoke an agitation for a re-examination” of the VFA, “and,
if need be, its abrogation to correct an inequality and
settle once and for all the continuing and unresolved issue
that has plagued all US-Philippine military treaties in the
past half century, namely the question of custody over US
servicemen who commit offenses in the Philippines.”

¶3. (U) Senator Arroyo also claimed that “the US has adopted
a double standard, one for the Philippines and another for
other countries…The Philippines cannot go on with this
one-way relationship with the United States.” Opposition
Representative Rolex Suplico of Iloilo said the USG’s
decision showed “the low respect the Americans (have) for
Filipinos.” Senate President Franklin Drilon said the USG’s
actions should serve as a wake-up call for Malacanang to
fight for the interests of the country.

¶4. (U) The presiding judge in the trial, Renato Dilag,
reportedly declined Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno’s
request immediately to arraign the accused Marines so that
the court could have custody of the four soldiers, stating,
“I cannot take the initiative for that.” Dilag further
suggested that, with the question of custody finally
resolved, albeit in the USG’s favor, the case might even move
forward faster than it has thus far. Prosecutor Prudencio
Jalandoni told reporters that he does not consider the
development a setback for the prosecution. Dilag and
Jalandoni both reportedly expressed their “disappointment”
over the US decision, however.

¶5. (SBU) The media also reported Jalandoni’s confirmation of
reports that the alleged rape victim’s private counsel,
Katrina Legarda, and her group at the Child Justice League
have resigned from the case. Legarda, a prominent attorney
associated with several past high-profile cases in the
Philippines, privately conveyed this news to emboff during
the last week of December, but there have been no public
reports of her resignation until now. Jalandoni and
officials of the Department of Justice have asserted that
Legarda’s withdrawal does not indicate that the case will not
be prosecuted successfully or that the GRP is giving up on
it. According to one account, her team only signed on to
ensure charges were filed, not to see the case through
prosecution.

¶6. (SBU) On the morning of January 18, Philippine National
Police (PNP) contacts informed RSO that leftist groups
Partido Ng Manggagawa, Gabriela, and Health Alliance for
Democracy had received protest permits and were planning to
march past the Embassy. This march, which took place over
the lunch hour, involved approximately 50 protesters, a size
typical of the protests involving this case. There was also
a smaller protest at the Embassy’s main gates on January 17.
In both cases, PNP Civil Disturbance Team officers
effectively assisted in ensuring security, and the protests
concluded without incident.
Bellard

   

 

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