Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/02/07MANILA573.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA573 2007-02-21 08:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO2831
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0573/01 0520834
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 210834Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5347
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 0202
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2176
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000573

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2012
TAGS: PHUM PREL RP
SUBJECT: UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR EXAMINES EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

REF: A. MANILA 0468
¶B. MANILA 458

Classified By: DCM Paul W. Jones, reason 1.4 (d)

¶1. (C) Summary. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial
killings views the Philippine government in a “state of
denial” about who is responsible for these killings here,
while crediting its leadership with its willingness to
arrange meetings for him as well as its creation of Task
Force Usig and the Melo Commission. In addition, he found
that the reluctance of witnesses to testify due to
intimidation was a severe limitation on judicial proceedings.
He discounted military claims that leftists killing leftists
was an important element of the problem. He has not
formulated any action recommendations, but we have encouraged
him to focus on improving the witness protection program and
on ensuring better police/prosecutor cooperation. These
views are Alston’s own, which Embassy wishes to flag given
their likely imminent release to the media. We will continue
our ongoing dialogue with Philippine government contacts to
gauge their reaction and to determine next steps, including
on how the USG could play an even more constructive role. End
Summary.

¶2. (C) At the invitation of the Philippine government,
Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on
Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston
(an Australian whose full-time job is as a professor of the
New York University School of Law) is in the midst of a
February 11-22 visit to the Philippines. He met privately
with Pol/C on February 15 and briefed selected members of the
diplomatic corps on some of his impressions on February 19.
He will discuss his views with the media on February 21 but
will not finalize his report to the UN Human Rights Council
until May. During his visit, he met with Executive Secretary
Ermita, senior officials from the Office of the Presidential
Advisor on the Peace Process, the Department of National
Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine
National Police, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the
National Security Council, the Commission on Human Rights,
the National Bureau of Investigation, as well as Senator
Enrile (chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights and
Justice), retired Supreme Court Justice Melo (head of a
presidential commission on unexplained killings), NGOs, and
victims’ families. His stops included Davao City and Baguio
City as well as Manila.

¶3. (C) While emphasizing that his conclusions were not yet
final and that he was not yet prepared to offer action or
policy recommendations, Alston made the following comments;
— the Philippine leadership, to its credit, welcomed his
visit and has taken some positive steps in dealing with what
it calls “unexplained killings,” such as the creation of the
Philippine National Police’s Task Force Usig and the Melo
Commission;
— Philippine government officials nonetheless are in a
“state of denial” about who is responsible for these
politically-related killings, especially at the executive and
operational levels;
— “accountability mechanisms” to resolve such cases are
weak and ineffective, with notably poor investigative skills
and a clear unwillingness of the Philippine National Police
to pursue cases that may involve elements of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines;
— in the very few cases where the Commission on Human
Rights has been able to conduct investigations, such as the
siege of a prison in Bicutan that led to at least 20 deaths,
government agencies then “ignored” its findings;
— judicial proceedings are severely hampered by the
unwillingness of witnesses to come forward, due to direct or
indirect intimidation or to a perception that they are
“uniquely vulnerable” when those linked to such killings are
also responsible for their safety;
— the witness protection program is so flawed that even 80
pct of “strong cases” fall apart due to the inability to
obtain witness testimony;
— the ongoing Philippine counter-insurgency program is
predicated on a “vilification of all leftists” to the extent
that the leftists have essentially become “officially
sanctioned targets.”

¶4. (C) While welcoming the existence of Task Force Usig, he
said that its role was sadly “reactive” and its emphasis on
exact numbers was off-focus. He labeled the term used by the
Philippine government on politically-related killings —

MANILA 00000573 002 OF 002

“unexplained killings” — “incorrect, misleading, and
inappropriate.” He said all such killings were inherently
extrajudicial killings and were clearly intended to
intimidate political activists and to undermine genuine
political discourse, which he said was “symptomatic of a
broader malaise.” He noted that “disappearances” were at
least as great a problem as documented killings, but the Task
Force (or other government agencies) did not investigate
these. He insisted that the Philippine government must take
responsibility for all killings in its sovereign jurisdiction
— whether by the military, police, vigilante groups, death
squads, or whoever — given it has clearly not taken all
“possible and appropriate steps” to stop them. He noted that
even “ordinary killers” seemed to operate with a “sense of
impunity” due to inability of Philippine authorities to bring
more culprits to justice.

¶5. (C) Alston said that the Philippine military’s claim
that the Communists and leftists were killing each other was
difficult to accept and there was no hard evidence to back up
this claim, only anecdotal material. He noted that even
now-retired Major General Palparan, whom many blame publicly
with many such incidences of killing in areas of his
then-command, had told the Melo Commission that he did not
believe this theory, either. He said that the “Operation
Bushfire” materials that the Philippine military had claimed
had been captured from the New People’s Army — detailing
such plans to kill “traitors” within the Communist ranks —
appear to be a “fabrication.”

¶6. (C) Alston said that he had just received a copy of the
Melo Commission’s report, but noted that the government’s
refusal to release it publicly as well as its delay in
providing it to him and other interested parties had
“dissipated the goodwill” the government had earned with the
creation of the Commission. He called upon the Philippine
government to make the full report public immediately.

¶7. (C) Alston declined to speculate on his eventual
recommendations for action, but he commented that the
Philippine government “has the capacity to do better,”
working with the “vibrant civil society” within a “bizarre,
but functioning political system.” During their private
meeting, Pol/C separately encouraged Alston to look
specifically at ways to improve the witness protection
program and to ensure early and effective cooperation between
police and prosecutors as promising “fixes” on which the USG
was also focused.

¶8. (C) Comment; Embassy wishes to flag Alston’s views
given their likely imminent release to the media. We will
continue our ongoing dialogue with Philippine government
contacts to gauge their reaction and to determine next steps,
including on how the USG could play an even more constructive
role.

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

KENNEY

   

 

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