Oct 242014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/09/09MANILA1967.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1967
2009-09-15 10:35
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5187
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001967

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/15/2019
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM KCRM KJUS RP
SUBJECT: SENATOR BLASTS EX-PRESIDENT ESTRADA FOR ILLEGAL ACTS

REF: A. 07 MANILA 3520 (ARROYO PARDONS ESTRADA)
¶B. 07 MANILA 3086 (ESTRADA CONVICTED)

Classified By: DCM Leslie A. Bassett, reason: 1.4 (b and d).

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (C) In a widely anticipated speech on the Senate floor on
September 14, Senator Panfilo Lacson publicly alleged that
former President Joseph Estrada profited from various illegal
acts during Estrada’s presidency. Lacson also hinted that
Estrada might bear culpability in a contracted double murder.
Witnesses in the murder case had implicated both Estrada and
Lacson, and Lacson likely intended to deflect attention away
from himself. Lacson’s speech also appears intended to
undercut Estrada’s legally questionable candidacy for the
2010 presidential election. Predictably, Estrada denied
Lacson’s allegations. End Summary.

BLASTING ESTRADA
—————-

¶2. (SBU) On September 14, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, in a
widely anticipated speech on the Senate floor, denounced
illegal acts allegedly committed by Joseph “Erap” Estrada
during Estrada’s 1998-2001 presidency. Lacson, who served as
Chief of the National Police under Estrada, alleged that the
then-President had pressured him to tolerate illegal gambling
operations and asked one of the gambling kingpins —
then-Governor of Ilocos Sur province Luis “Chavit” Singson —
to provide Estrada with a 5 million Peso monthly payoff
(approximately 110,000 USD at 2000 exchange rates) that
Singson normally provided to the Police Chief.
(Coincidentally, Singson, who now serves as Deputy National
Security Advisor, made headlines this month after he publicly
admitted to assaulting his common-law wife and her paramour.)

¶3. (SBU) Lacson also alleged that Estrada had ordered him not
to interfere with certain smuggled shipments of chicken parts
and rice, and that Estrada had directed police harassment in
order to compel a Filipino businessman to engage in a stock
transaction favorable to an Estrada ally. The businessman
confirmed the allegation to media on September 15. Most
important, Lacson referenced the ongoing investigation into
the 2000 murder of Estrada associate Salvador Dacer and his
driver, Emmanuel Corbito. Two former police officers
testifying in the case recently claimed in court proceedings
that Lacson and Estrada were complicit in the killings. In
his speech, Lacson referenced a public statement in which
Estrada implicated Lacson in the murders; Lacson denied his
own involvement while noting Estrada often issued
instructions directly to Lacson’s subordinates. Lacson
promised further revelations on September 21 before
concluding his speech, “God save the Philippines from Joseph
Estrada.”

¶4. (SBU) Following the speech, Estrada publicly denied
Lacson’s allegations, claiming they were part of an effort to
derail Estrada’s presidential candidacy. Because the
constitution provides that members of the Congress are not
legally liable for their statements in the legislature,
Estrada cannot file libel charges against Lacson. To
counterattack, however, Estrada’s son, Senator Jinggoy
Estrada, planned to deliver a speech critical of Lacson on
September 15.

POLITICAL CONTEXT
—————–

¶5. (SBU) Allegations that former President Estrada engaged in
corrupt activities and profited from illegal gambling are not
new. In 2007, the Philippine anti-graft court convicted
Estrada of plunder, based on charges that he received payoffs
from illegal gambling operations, diverted excise taxes to
his personal accounts, and profited from stock manipulation
(ref B). Six weeks after his conviction, however, President
Macapagal-Arroyo pardoned Estrada (ref A).

¶6. (C) The Dacer-Corbito murder investigation has garnered
substantial press attention, especially after unknown
assailants fatally shot Jimmy Lopez, another witness in the
case, on the night of September 1. (Unknown assailants in
Manila also shot former police officer Wenceslao Sombero on
September 12; Sombero survived and claimed the attack also
related to the Dacer-Corbito case.) It appears likely that

MANILA 00001967 002 OF 002

the tension between Lacson and Estrada has escalated because
the two have been implicated in the case. Estrada and Lacson
worked together for many years on special efforts against
organized crime. Many Filipinos in the political class
believe that their roles provided them with a capability not
only to exact vigilante justice against criminal syndicates
but also to intimidate or eliminate their personal foes.

COMMENT
——–

¶7. (C) It is unclear whether Lacson’s denunciation will
affect Estrada’s political standing. Despite his prior
conviction, Estrada, who entered politics after an acting
career, remains highly popular with many economically
disadvantaged voters. Credible polling organizations have
consistently found him to place in the top tier of likely
presidential candidates. Estrada has said publicly that he
is nearly certain to run in 2010, although the constitution
appears to bar him from seeking reelection, stating that,
“The President shall not be eligible for any reelection.”
Estrada’s advocates claim that “The President” refers only to
an incumbent, and that Estrada should be allowed to run again
because his term was cut short by the second People Power
uprising that removed him from office.

¶8. (C) While some contacts have claimed that Joseph Estrada
seeks political vindication through a demonstration of his
enduring popularity, many believe he hopes to use his stature
not in a futile quest to regain the presidency but rather to
extract concessions from another candidate seeking his
endorsement. Conventional wisdom holds that the former
President hopes another strong candidate will invite Jinggoy
Estrada to become his running mate. Meanwhile, those
candidates who are unlikely to team up with the Estradas have
an incentive to do what they can to further sully the former
President’s image.
KENNEY

   

 

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