Sep 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/06/07MANILA1881.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1881
2007-06-06 07:20
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO6676
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1881/01 1570720
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060720Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6851
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001881

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR RP
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN REBELLION CHARGES
AGAINST LEFTIST LEADERS

REF: A. MANILA 1215

¶B. 06 MANILA 2154
¶C. 06 MANILA 1965
¶D. 06 MANILA 1162
¶E. 06 MANILA 1021

¶1. (SBU) Summary: The Philippine Supreme Court on June 1
dismissed rebellion charges against six leftist Members of
Congress for alleged plans to overthrow the Arroyo government
in February 2006. In a sharply worded decision, the Supreme
Court ruled that the state prosecutors had erred in finding
probable cause to arrest and indict the leftist politicians
on charges of rebellion, and accused the Department of
Justice of using these prosecutions for “political ends.”
The Administration has indicated its intent to file a motion
for reconsideration. The decision is yet another
demonstration of the Supreme Court’s judicial independence
following several landmark decisions against the
Administration over the last twelve months. End Summary.

—————————-
Beltran and the Batasan Five
—————————-

¶2. (U) Immediately following President Arroyo’s imposition of
a “State of National Emergency” on February 24, 2006,
government authorities arrested leftist 74-year old Anakpawis
party-list representative Crispin Beltran and accused him of
plotting to overthrow the Arroyo Administration. The
prosecutors cited charges dating back to the Marcos era in
order to justify the arrest, which was conducted without a
new warrant. As his case moved through the courts in 2006,
Beltran remained in custody, briefly at police headquarters
at Camp Crame and then under extended medical supervision at
a local hospital.

¶3. (U) Shortly after Beltran’s arrest, the government also
filed rebellion charges against five other leftist party-list
representatives in Congress — Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino,
Joel Virador, Liza Masa, and Rafael Mariano — whom the
military accused of being fronts for the Communist
insurgency. These five, known as the “Batasan Five” after
they eluded arrest and found refuge within the House of
Representatives building (“Batasang Pambansa”) for more than
two months. They finally left the Congressional complex on
May 8, 2006, when a local court dismissed the Department of
Justice’s charges against them. However, the Department of
Justice re-filed the same case in a different trial court,
which upheld the charges. Speaker of the House Jose de
Venecia negotiated with DOJ and PNP to take the five members
back under the protective custody of the House until
authorities withdrew the threat of actual arrest. This
agreement did not cover Beltran, whose case had been filed
separately.

———-
The Ruling
———-

¶4. (U) Because the Beltran and “Batasan Five” prosecutions
flowed from mostly the same facts, the Supreme Court
consolidated the two cases. The Court ruled on June 1 in
favor of Beltran and the Batasan Five, finding that there was
insufficient evidence against them. The verdict stated that
the prosecutors’ preliminary investigations were “tainted
with irregularities” that had “trivialized” the case, and
described the rebellion charges as a “sham.” The Court
ordered the immediate halt to the prosecutions and also
dismissed two earlier rulings by the trial court that had
initially sustained the findings of probable cause. The
Court pointedly added that “we cannot emphasize strongly
enough that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid,
giving the impression that their noble office is being used
or prostituted … for political ends.”

¶5. (U) The “Batasan Five” decision came two months after a
separate Court decision that, unusually, allowed Congressman
Ocampo to post bail on fifteen counts of murder of suspected
counter-revolutionaries during a purge within the Communist
Party of the Philippines between 1985 and 1991.

————————
Administration to Appeal
————————

¶6. (SBU) According to Assistant Chief State Prosecutor
Richard Fadullon, the Supreme Court decision will become
final on June 16 (or 15 days from issuance). During the

MANILA 00001881 002 OF 002

interim, the government has the right to file a motion for
reconsideration with the Supreme Court. Justice Secretary
Raul Gonzalez initially stated that he had expected this
unfavorable ruling following Ocampo’s release and predicted
that it would be a “waste of time” to appeal. However, Press
Secretary Ignacio Bunye on June 2 issued a statement calling

SIPDIS
the ruling “a setback for the government’s anti-insurgency
efforts” and promising that the Administration would indeed
immediately appeal. Fadullon confirmed on June 6 that the
Administration was preparing its appeal. Should the decision
stand, the Supreme Court would then order the trial court to
dismiss the case, after which the trial court could order
Beltran’s release.

¶7. (SBU) While the Supreme Court decision applies to
rebellion charges against Beltran, several sedition charges
against him in connection with “seditious utterances” during
the People Power anniversary on February 24, 2006, remain
pending. Fadullon admitted privately that it was still
unclear whether the sedition case had been resolved. He
added that Beltran’s legislative immunity, which applies to
crimes for which the punishment is six years or less, would
permit his release during the judicial process, as sedition
carries a maximum penalty of six years. (Legislative
immunity did not apply to rebellion, which carries a higher
penalty.)

——-
Comment
——-

¶8. (SBU) Despite long-standing concerns that President
Arroyo’s many appointments to the Supreme Court, including
the current and past Chief Justices, would leave it beholden
to the Administration, its track record since 2006 has
demonstrated clear judicial independence, with repeated
rulings against the Administration in key cases: the People’s
Initiative for Charter Change; the declaration of a State of
National Emergency; the policy of calibrated pre-emptive
response during the February 2006 protests and rallies; and
an executive order that barred executive branch members from
testifying before Congress (reftels).

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

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.