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Cablegate: Supreme Court "Summit" On Unlawful Killings

VZCZCXRO5728
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2409/01 1990907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180907Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7470
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 002409

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR DRL, EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP
PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KCRM RP
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT "SUMMIT" ON UNLAWFUL KILLINGS

REF: A. MANILA 2349

B. MANILA 2262
C. MANILA 2120
D. MANILA 1704
E. MANILA 1702

1. (SBU) Summary: Supreme Court Chief Justice Puno chaired a
"summit" July 16-17 with approximately 250 government and NGO
leaders to explore new options to combat the continuing
unlawful killings. Speakers from Congress, academia, the
legal community, law enforcement, the military, and NGOs
proposed various solutions on how the government could better
address this problem. A final report, with formal
recommendations, will not be available until the week of July
23, but key concerns including strengthening the Commission
on Human Rights and the Witness Protection Program. USAID,
the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Asia Foundation, and the UN
Development Program provided partial funding for the event,
at which emboffs were observers. USAID plans to award
approximately $1 million in grants by the end of FY 2007 to
strengthen human rights protections, including assistance to
the Commission on Human Rights. End Summary.

2. (U) Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno opened the
"National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and
Enforced Disappearances" on July 16 with a plea to newly
elected Congressmen to make unlawful political killings a
higher priority on the legislative agenda, and not merely
criticize the Executive Branch for inaction but more
helpfully propose concrete solutions and reforms. Speakers
included retired Supreme Court Justice Melo, Commission on
Human Rights Chairwoman Quisumbing, Philippine National
Police Director General Calderon, and Armed Forces of the
Philippines Chief of Staff General Esperon. Each Supreme
Court justice chaired a working group on the second day to
explore specific recommendations to government on how better
to address to the problem.

3. (U) Informal recommendations were wide-ranging, but key
issues included:
- expanding the legal mandate of the Commission on Human
Rights to include investigative and prosecutorial functions;
- strengthening the Department of Justice's Witness
Protection Program with an increased budget and improved
operations;
- allowing private prosecutors from NGOs and other legal
groups to help prosecute cases (as in trafficking in persons
cases);
- allowing witnesses to testify using closed circuit
televisions (as currently for child witnesses in various
cases), to encourage greater willingness to cooperate;
- encouraging changes of trial venue for safety reasons;
- improving police/prosecutor cooperation under a new
Administrative Order (ref a);
- requiring continuous trials (which the Supreme Court has
already mandated, in principle);
- reviewing the Rules of Court to examine other ways to
expedite cases;
- offering specialized training for judges at the designated
courts;
- expanding the role and legal mandate of the Ombudsman
better to handle such cases allegedly committed by government
officials;
- reviving the government's peace talks with Communist Party
of the Philippines and the New People's Army;
- reviewing the doctrine of "command responsibility" and its
applicability to these cases.

4. (U) The final report and recommendations will not be
available until the week of July 23, according to
Court officials. The Chief Justice vowed to forward these
documents directly to President Arroyo, as well as to the new
leadership in the Senate and the House of Representatives for
consideration and possible action. Puno also designated the
Supreme Court's Committee on the Revisions of the Rules of
Court to review the Summit's proposals regarding judicial
operations and in turn make formal recommendations to the
Court justices.

5. (SBU) Comment: Most of the recommendations from the
Summit are not new; however, the Supreme Court's initiative
to organize this forum helped highlight these issues on the
national agenda. Embassy's Law Enforcement Working Group
will continue to look for additional ways the USG might be of
assistance. USAID plans to award approximately $1 million in
grants by the end of FY 2007 to strengthen human rights
protections, including assistance to the Commission on Human

MANILA 00002409 002 OF 002


Rights. USAID provided some funding for this summit, along
with the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Asia Foundation, and
the UN Development Program, while emboffs participated as
observers at the invitation of the Court.

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

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