Oct 042014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06MANILA4933.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4933 2006-12-08 10:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO0040
OO RUEHNH
DE RUEHML #4933/01 3421028
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081028Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4205
INFO RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA IMMEDIATE 0058
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004933

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2016
TAGS: PREL MARR KCRM CASC RP
SUBJECT: UNDERSTANDING THE SEIZURE OF LANCE CORPORAL SMITH

REF: MANILA 4920 AND PREVIOUS

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

¶1. (C) The decision by Makati City Regional Trial Court
Judge Pozon on December 4 to order the temporary confinement
of convicted Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in the Makati City
Jail, rather than release him back to the custody of U.S.
authorities, took us and the defense attorneys by surprise
(although, perhaps not to the Makati City police in the
courtroom). However, it is not necessarily unjustifiable in
terms of the judge’s own competency. Not an expert on
international law in general or on the Visiting Forces
Agreement specifically, Judge Pozon probably proceeded as he
would ordinarily at the conclusion of a trial with a guilty
verdict. What he appears to have been waiting for was an
explicit legal motion or written document from a competent
Philippine authority (i.e. the Department of Justice or
Foreign Affairs) confirming that the U.S. should
appropriately retain custody of Lance Corporal Smith until
the end of all judicial proceedings according to the VFA.
The Embassy has been pressing senior Philippine Government
officials since immediately after the verdict on December 4
to submit such documentation. After the DFA again declined
our request to sign such a document on December 8, our
Justice Attache was able to convince the Chief State
Prosecutor to do so. The defense attorneys then submitted
this to Judge Pozon with a request to return Lance Corporal
Smith to U.S. custody immediately. Judge Pozon, however,
rejected this document and called for one signed by a Cabinet
Secretary. Our Justice Attache was able to obtain Justice

SIPDIS
Secretary Gonzalez’ signature on this document late on

SIPDIS
December 8, and the defense attorneys submitted it to Judge
Pozon for consideration. Judge Pozon received the document,
but said he would hold a hearing on December 11 at which the
private prosecutor in the case could also present her
arguments against this transfer.

¶2. (C) There are various possible explanations for the lack
of appropriately, timely action by the judge and the
government. The heretofore-obscure Judge Pozon may be
enjoying his moment in the sun, and burnishing his
nationalist credentials by ordering the seizure by Philippine
authorities of the new convict, with an eye on a future
political career or promotion within the judicial hierarchy.
Even if this is true, we do not believe he will block the
transfer of custody indefinitely, given what GRP officials
assure us across the board is their full recognition of the
U.S. right to continued custody, their intent to “fix” this
problem “quickly,” and their reaffirmations of the VFA.

¶3. (C) Others within the Philippine Government, especially
the DFA, may also be using this case as leverage to get what
they have sought for the past year regarding the VFA,
including the transfer to Philippine custody of the
defendants in this case. DFA also has also consistently
sought agreement from the U.S. that we would keep any
defendants in the Philippines throughout the judicial
proceedings (i.e. not send them back to Okinawa). Moreover,
DFA officials have also been clear with expectations that any
defendants whose convictions are upheld at the end of the
judicial proceedings would indeed end up in an existing
Philippine detention facility, which goes well beyond what
the VFA calls for, which is mutual agreement on a place of
detention. The DFA asked the Embassy to agree to send a
diplomatic note that confirmed the latter two points on
December 7, which we rejected, insisting instead that we
concentrate on resolving the current Philippine violation of
the VFA.

¶4. (C) In the Byzantine world of Philippine politics and
personalities, the range of other motives are endless. The
lack of timely government action could reflect a reluctance
by Cabinet members to attach their names to a document
requesting Lance Corporal Smith’s transfer to U.S. custody in
advance of next year’s Congressional elections, or even a
feud between Cabinet members that remains below the radar
scope. Or, during the ongoing machinations for
Constitutional change through a constituent assembly — in
which Malacanang is interested but is not the driving force
— this issue might be a useful distraction to keep the
Senate, in particular, off base. Or it could be another
effort to undermine the Arroyo Administration by Makati City
Mayor Binay, who controls the local police and may have
private links with the Makati City Regional Trial Court
Judge. We may never know the full story.

¶5. (C) But what is notable is that there are very few
public calls by prominent individuals, in politics or
outside, for the Philippines to retain custody at this point.
There is little vocal opposition to returning Lance Corporal

MANILA 00004933 002 OF 002

Smith to U.S. custody during the remainder of judicial
proceedings. Even protests by the usual leftist and feminist
groups are unusually muted. All this suggests that we will,
indeed, end up in the coming days with custody again of Lance
Corporal Smith. With the submission of the DOJ document
today, we believe that a solution is in the works, and that
it remains premature to weigh other USG options, although we
have an extensive list ready should that need come next week.
We are prepared for an imminent transfer of custody, and are
coordinating with the Chief of the Philippine National Police
to ensure full security for Lance Corporal Smith during the
transfer once it ultimately takes place.

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

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.