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Cablegate: New Steps Against Unlawful Killings

VZCZCXRO0089
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2349/01 1930227
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120227Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7381
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002349

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KCRM RP
SUBJECT: NEW STEPS AGAINST UNLAWFUL KILLINGS

REF: A. MANILA 2262
B. MANILA 1704
C. MANILA 1702

1. (U) Malacanang Palace announced on July 11 that
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had on July 3 signed a new
Administrative Order (No. 181) -- effective immediately --
that mandates "cooperation and coordination" between
prosecutors and police from the outset of a political or
media killing "until the termination of cases in court." She
directed the National Prosecution Service of the Department
of Justice, the Philippine National Police, and the National
Bureau of Investigation to work closely together, to consult
at all stages, and to gather additional evidence as required
for successful prosecutions. The A.O. directs the National
Prosecution Service moreover to assign a public prosecutor to
assist the police and NBI in the preparation of each case,
while specifying that a separate and different prosecutor
will handle the case in the actual criminal proceedings.

2. (SBU) According to Executive Director Cecilia Quisumbing
of the Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC), the DOJ
had initially raised concerns that involvement by prosecutors
during the preliminary phases of a case could violate rules
of court. In inter-agency meetings over the past several
months, participants worked out this compromise to have a
two-tiered structure of prosecutors to address this issue.
However, participants remain concerned that a nationwide lack
of prosecutors (ref a) will make full and effective
implementation of these provisions difficult. The success of
a USG-funded seminar on police/prosecutor cooperation (ref b)
in May nonetheless had encouraged police and prosecutors on
the utility of such an approach -- building not so much on a
U.S. model as on current practices in Zamboanga City -- and
helped to lead to the ultimate compromise, officials
confirmed. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita commented
publicly that the new A.O. is the "latest innovation in the
government's drive to resolve human rights violations with
due process," while Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Serge
Apostol noted that the inter-agency group had worked hard to
make sure there would be "no legal or practical impediments
to implementing the order."

3. (U) In remarks at the conclusion of a three-day Mindanao
Peace and Security Summit, President Arroyo vowed that the
Philippines was "entering a new era of civil and human
rights." She pledged that "even one death is one death too
many for the people who are fighting to be a part of our
democratic society" and that "no one is above the law." She
specified that "if you are armed and kill innocent civilians,
you will be tracked down and prosecuted. If you are a
communist terrorist, we will stop you. If you are a
religious terrorist, we will stop you. If you are a rogue
element of our own police or military, we will stop you."
She commented, however, that "ninety-nine percent" of the
military and police were "hard-working and patriotic men and
women (who) love this nation and abide by the rule of law."
She promised that her Administration would introduce in the
new Congress (beginning on July 23) "sweeping legislation
that will transform our nation's response to political
violence...(to) guarantee swift justice...strengthen the
rights of victims...(and) impose tougher penalties for human
rights violators for anyone committing a crime with a
firearm." She reassured the public that the government would
at the same time fully "protect the political rights of any
person who wishes to participate in our democracy, however we
might disagree on philosophy and approach." Separately
commenting on the soon-to-be-implemented Human Security Act,
Malacanang Spokesman Ignacio Bunye promised that the law
would "not be used against members of the opposition and
civil society who air their views in the spirit of democracy."

4. (SBU) Comment: Members of the Mission's Law Enforcement
Working Group had worked closely with the Administration for
more than one year to encourage the drafting and eventual
adoption of this A.O., in addition to organizing the
INL-funded seminar in May on practical approaches to such
cooperation. The LEWG will continue to seek additional ways
in which the USG can be helpful in encouraging the
police/prosecutor exchanges in order to ensure more
successful prosecutions of political killings, with an eye on
eventually expanding its application to more successful
prosecutions of other crimes, including terrorism,
trafficking in persons, narcotics production and smuggling,
and intellectual property rights violations.

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

MANILA 00002349 002 OF 002


Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

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