Oct 262014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/03/07MANILA1034.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1034 2007-03-30 09:09 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO9730
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1034/01 0890909
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 300909Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5902
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 6051
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI IMMEDIATE 0044
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001034

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP PREL PHUM PTER EAID RP
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR STAFFDEL MIXTER

MANILA 00001034 001.2 OF 002

¶1. (SBU) Summary. Embassy warmly welcomes members of
Staffdel Mixter to the Philippines! We have a packed
schedule for you that includes meetings on counterterrorism,
U.S.-Philippine military cooperation, unlawful killings, and
Peace Corps issues. You are coming to the Philippines at an
important time. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is
demonstrating impressive combat prowess in ongoing operations
against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists on the
island of Jolo. Under the leadership of Chief of Staff
General Esperon, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is fully
committed to the Defense Reform and Battalion Retraining
Programs. Following advice from the Melo Commission on
unlawful killings, the Philippine government has undertaken
additional actions to address the issue. You will be meeting
with several key military and civilian government officials
who will be able to provide you first-hand insights into
these issues. We have also planned Saturday site visits to
observe the work of two committed Peace Corps volunteers in
the Subic Bay area. End Summary.

INCREASED COMBAT PROWESS
————————

¶2. (SBU) With U.S. support, the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) is demonstrating impressive combat prowess
in its ongoing counterterrorism operations on the southern
island of Jolo. AFP troops — including soldiers, Marines,
airmen, and sailors — have remained engaged in sustained
action against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists
since August 1, 2006. Improved operational readiness rates
for aircraft and vessels, casualty treatment, night
helicopter medical evacuations, and tactical field skills are
directly attributable to U.S. training, advice, and
assistance. Successful operations have led to the deaths in
military operations of Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Solaiman,
the top two leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and kept Jemaah
Islamiyah terrorists on the run.

COMMITMENT TO DEFENSE REFORM
—————————-

¶3. (SBU) Philippine Defense Reform Program is transforming
the Philippine military into a more transparent, accountable,
and effective institution. This U.S.-supported effort aims
at a complete restructuring of the military establishment
ranging from personnel management and logistics to
acquisition and training. With the advice of the Joint U.S.
Military Assistance Group and a 13-member team of U.S.
experts, the AFP and Department of National Defense have
already registered significant gains. U.S. Special Force
troops are helping jump-start the newly begun Battalion
Retraining Program, which will retrain all 72 Army and 12
Marine battalions.

URGING ACTION AGAINST UNLAWFUL KILLINGS
—————————————

¶4. (SBU) A serious negative factor in this otherwise
positive picture is the increase in reports of unlawful
killings. Such killings, committed by security forces, the
Communist New People’s Army, and local criminals, were common
during the Marcos dictatorship, and have continued, albeit
with less frequency, since that time. Over the past one to
two years, however, there has been a troubling increase in
reports of unlawful killings. As friends and allies, we are
concerned about such killings, whoever is responsible, but
particularly about allegations that members of the security
forces have been involved. Addressing unlawful killings in a
serious, effective way and ensuring that Philippine
authorities bring those responsible to justice is important
to the U.S.-Philippine relationship and, of course, to the
Philippines’ own democratic development.

¶5. (U) We are encouraged that President Arroyo has taken
several steps to address this problem, including establishing
a police task force, called Task Force Usig (“to prosecute”),
to investigate the killings and to file charges against the
murderers, as well as a commission under the leadership of
former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Melo. The Melo
Commission has examined this problem and made policy
recommendations, on which the Government has promptly acted.
The Philippine Government also invited a UN Special
Rapporteur, Philip Alston, to inquire into the issue. In his
report, Alston cites the Philippine Government’s recognition

MANILA 00001034 002.2 OF 002

of the gravity of the problem, expresses concern about the
views of the armed forces, and states that the various
measures ordered by President Arroyo in response to the Melo
Commission report constitute important first steps, but much
remains to be done.

¶6. (U) The Melo Commission report concluded that:
circumstantial evidence linked “some elements” of the
military to the killings, but given the lack of witnesses
there is insufficient evidence to support successful
prosecutions or convictions; there is no official or
sanctioned policy by the military or its civilian superiors
to resort to illegal liquidations; there is no definitive
accounting of the actual number of killings, but “even one is
too many”; the killing of journalists is mostly attributable
to reprisals from politicians, warlords, or business
interests, rather than agents of the government; and,
prosecutions have been more successful when there is a
greater willingness of witnesses to testify. The report also
stated that President Arroyo’s resolve to stop these killings
has been made clear, both in public statements and through
actions such as the creation of Task Force Usig and the Melo
Commission itself.

¶7. (U) Six soldiers have been identified with involvement in
the killing of local leftists, journalists, and others thus
far. Four have been charged and two are already under
arrest. Opposition groups claim even more military
involvement. The killing of civilians by security forces
without corresponding prosecution greatly undermines the rule
of law, creating a culture of impunity that itself undermines
democracy. We have consistently urged our Filipino
counterparts to address the problem squarely, investigate the
allegations of Philippine military or police involvement, and
hold any perpetrators accountable. Your trip is an
opportunity to reiterate to senior military, police, and
civilian leaders the need to take decisive action to resolve
the issue of unlawful killings, which threatens to tarnish
the impressive victories the armed forces is winning in the
field.

LONG LEGACY OF PEACE CORPS SERVICE
———————————-

¶8. (U) The Peace Corps Program in the Philippines dates back
to 1961, when 130 volunteers arrived for classroom
assignments in language, math, and science. The program
remained primarily focused on classroom instruction until the
1970s, when it shifted to social and economic development in
the rural areas. In the 1980’s, the Philippine Departments
of Education, Environment, and Agriculture provided a
framework for programs in their respective areas of
responsibility; the Peace Corps supplied volunteers
accordingly. The program was suspended in 1990 due to
security concerns, but resumed two years later to launch
small island development efforts in the provinces of
Catanduanes, Romblon, and Batanes in Luzon. At present,
there are more than 100 volunteers spread throughout the
country serving in teacher training programs, coastal
resources management, water sanitation, and park and
protected area community development. To date, more than
8,500 volunteers have served in the Philippines since 1961.
You will be visiting two such volunteers in the Subic Bay
area, two hours north of Manila, both of whom work with
organizations that provide services to orphans, foster
children, and children with special needs.

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

   

 

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