Oct 042014


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA3754 2005-08-15 07:13 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 003754



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2015

¶B. MANILA 1253
¶C. MANILA 0587
¶D. MANILA 0312
¶E. MANILA 0129

Classified By: Political Officer Timothy Cipullo for
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (SBU) Summary: Extra-judicial killings of suspected
criminals in Davao and Cebu are on the increase. So far, 137
have been slain this year in Davao and 77 in Cebu. No
arrests have been made. The killings appear to have spread
to other localities: there have been several recent slayings
in the Cebu Province towns of Toledo and Carcar. The
killings seem very popular with the publics in Davao and
Cebu, although human rights groups and the Catholic Church
continue to condemn them. Mission continues to urge respect
for the rule of law, and the apprehension and prosecution of
those responsible. End Summary.

Uptick in Davao Killings

¶2. (U) The number of vigilante-style executions of suspected
drug pushers and other alleged criminals has increased in the
cities of Davao in Mindanao and Cebu in the central Visayan
region. Kabataan Consortium, a Davao City-based human rights
advocacy group and founding member of the Coalition Against
Summary Executions (CASE), has documented 137 cases of
summary executions in Davao City from January to August 2005.
This surpasses the number of such killings by suspected
members of the “Davao Death Squad” or “DDS” for the entire
year of 2004, when vigilantes murdered 104 suspected
criminals, according to Kabataan Consortium. (Note: The DDS
is a shadowy vigilante group that apparently has carried out
the bulk of the killings.) Based on what Mission has heard,
the killings remain popular among Davao citizens.

¶3. (U) As of August 15, authorities have not filed a single
case related to the killings in Davao in 2005. Two cases
filed last year were both dismissed because relatives of the
victims withdrew their complaints. In June 2005, the wing of
the Office of the Ombudsman responsible for Mindanao ordered
a six-month suspension of a former police chief and three
precinct commanders in Davao for alleged negligence,
inefficiency, and incompetence in failing to solve cases of
summary executions within the Davao jurisdiction. However,
the Court of Appeals on July 4 issued a temporary restraining
order that reinstated the four while their case is reviewed
on appeal. Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte publicly defended the
four men and has set up a legal defense fund to assist them.

More Slayings in Cebu

¶4. (C) In the meantime, according to contacts and media
sources, the number of extra-judicial killings in Cebu City
has risen to 77, as of August 2 — an increase of 36 since
April 2005 (see ref a). (Note: The killings in Cebu
basically began in December 2004. There was no previous
pattern of extra-judicial killings in the locality. End
Note.) Observers blame the killings on a special squad of
police officers purportedly tasked to go after criminal
elements in the city, called the “hunter team.” The team was
formed by Cebu Mayor Tommy Osmena in December 2004 (see ref
e). A wave of criticism by lawyers and civil society groups,
led by Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu, prompted Director
General of the Philippine National Police (PNP) General
Arturo Lomibao to promise in April that the police would
investigate all such cases. Lomibao also formed a task force
to look into the situation, which reportedly has not yet
completed its investigation. Nonetheless, as in Davao, all
of the killings this year in Cebu remain unsolved. John
Domingo, the U.S. Consular Agent in Cebu (Amcit — pls
protect), told Acting Pol/C on August 12 that the killings
remain very popular with the Cebu public, despite the
criticism. He said average Cebuanos feel that street crime
has gone way down due to the killings and they appreciate

A Spreading Problem?

¶5. (SBU) The practice of executing suspected criminals
appears to have recently spread from Cebu City to the
neighboring localities of Toledo and Carcar, also located on
Cebu island. In early August two suspected drug dealers were
gunned down in Toledo and a suspected criminal was killed by
motorcycle-riding gunmen in Carcar (the same modus operandi
of many of the killings in Cebu City). Fearing that the wave
of killings has spread outside of Cebu City, Cebu Governor
Gwendolyn Garcia ordered the police to look into the killings
and to submit a report on steps they will take to prevent the
escalation of vigilante-style killings in Cebu Province.
(Note: Cebu City is a self-governing municipality outside of
the jurisdiction of Cebu Province. End Note.)


¶6. (C) As noted, despite the criticism of human rights
groups and the Catholic Church, the killings seem very
popular with the publics in Davao and Cebu. Mayors Duterte
and Osmena clearly condone the killings — which have not
hurt their political standing in the slightest and apparently
given them some bounce in popularity (though Osmena
reportedly remains a generally unpopular mayor for other
reasons). Davao, the largest city in Mindanao, has faced
this sort of recurring violence for some time. It is a new
phenomenon for Cebu, however, which is the Philippines’
second largest city and a major trade entrepot. Moreover,
Cebu heretofore had a positive reputation as a city that
respected the rule of law and human rights. Given the
example of these two important cities, it seemed only time
before the killings spread to other places, as seems to be
the case in Toledo and Carcar.

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