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Cablegate: Government Detains 43 in Controversial Raid

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OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0289/01 0470911
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O 160911Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6560
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000289

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PTER MOPS RP
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT DETAINS 43 IN CONTROVERSIAL RAID

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a joint February 6 operation,
Philippine police and military personnel in Rizal Province
arrested and detained 43 people with alleged ties to the
terrorist New People's Army. The accused maintain they are
medical workers who were tortured by military forces after
their wrongful arrest. The Philippine Commission on Human
Rights (CHR) is investigating allegations of human rights
violations. Embassy officers, through inquiries about the
arrests, have signaled concern for due process and human
rights as the investigation continues. END SUMMARY.

CHARGES FILED
-------------

2. (SBU) On February 6, soldiers from the Philippine Armed
Forces (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested 43
suspected communist guerrillas at a guesthouse in Morong,
Rizal Province. The military states all 43 are members of
the New Peoples' Army (NPA), the military arm of the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and that they were
being trained in the fabrication and employment of improvised
explosive devices, in addition to medical training. Weapons
and ammunition reportedly seized in the raid include several
pistols, 300 grenades, 2 Claymore mines, 10 to 12 improvised
explosive devices, ammonium nitrate, blasting caps, and other
materials used in the manufacture of improvised explosive
devices. (Note: The NPA, designated a terrorist organization
by the Philippine government, United States, and European
Union, continues to conduct violent attacks, bombings, and
kidnapping-for-ransom throughout the Philippines.) Firearms
and explosives charges were filed against the 43 suspects on
February 11.

3. (SBU) The suspects, their families, and human rights NGOs
state that those detained are volunteer medical workers who
have been arbitrarily and illegally arrested and afterwards
maltreated by security forces. In media interviews, family
members state the accused were attending a medical training
seminar designed to improve their work in rural and
impoverished communities. Human rights NGOs claim the
suspects were arrested at gunpoint, held incommunicado,
handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, and
denied access to legal counsel while undergoing
interrogations. (Note: Widely publicized reports that at
least one detainee was sexually abused were later denied by
the detainee in statements to the press. End Note.)
Spokespersons for the group claim the seized weapons and
explosives were planted by military forces during the raid.

MULTIPLE INVESTIGATIONS
-----------------------

4. (SBU) Following interviews with the suspects, Philippine
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Leila de Lima
denounced the military's failure to provide access to legal
counsel and the blindfolding of suspects, a form of
psychological torture under Philippine law. The CHR pledged
to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses and
violations of due process. Franklin Bucayu (protect), Chief
of the PNP's Human Rights Affairs Office, also pledged to
investigate any allegations of human right abuses on the part
of the PNP, which arrested the suspects and turned them over
to the AFP for questioning and detention.

BELATED RESPONSE TO HABEAS CORPUS ORDER
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) On February 12, the AFP failed to comply with a
Supreme Court order to produce the victims in response to a
writ of habeas corpus, stating it has inadequate time to
coordinate a secure transfer of the 43 from the detention
center in Rizal to the Court of Appeals in Manila. The 43
were brought before the court on February 15, where
government lawyers stood by the arrest of what they labeled
a "super body" of NPA medics who treated wounded NPA soldiers
in "clandestine clinics." The Court of Appeals of appeals is
expected to rule on both the legality of the arrest and a
petition to transfer the detainees to the Metro Manila area
by the end of the week.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The arrest of the 43 individuals has been
highly controversial; extensive media coverage of the case
has focused on each side's competing - and ever-changing -
claims. The Embassy is concerned by reports of human rights
abuses by government security forces and remains in close
contact with the CHR, AFP, PNP, and human rights NGOs. While

MANILA 00000289 002 OF 002


the facts of the case remain unclear, we believe our
inquiries about the case signaled concern about public
accusations of abuse. END COMMENT.
BASSETT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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