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TO EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS REF: MANILA 3247 Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d) 1. (C) Summary. At least some NGO and party activists in Central Luzon are scaling back their rural activities in response to an increased number of extrajudicial killings (EJKs). Some place the blame for the recent rise in EJKs squarely on the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Local government officials and the Philippine National Police (PNP) agree that there is a rise in EJKs, but attribute this to increased Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) activity in the region. The Catholic Church is trying to play an active role in documenting EJKs, while the regional Commission on Human Rights has severe resource constraints. EJKs often reflect a pervasive "culture of impunity" that too often protects wayward provincial government authorities or local crime lords. End Summary.

-------------Running scared -------------2. (C) According to Nueva Ecija province-based Shubert Ciencia of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), a collectivist NGO advocating rural sustainable development, Central Luzon is characterized by intense farmer discontent, which attracts CPP/NPA insurgents wishing to capitalize on it. He said that the AFP had beefed up its overall anti-insurgency activities, but he claimed that a noticeable rise in EJKs in Nueva Ecija had also coincided with the arrival of Major General Jovito Palparan, Commander of the 7th Infantry Division. Ciencia further alleged that the AFP targets anyone even suspected of linkages to the NPA, including NGO members and farmers cooperating or meeting the NGO members. Ciencia and his staff said the AFP often takes a census of a particular barangay, then sets up surveillance to monitor outsiders not included in the original census. These outsiders, such as PRRM members wanting to work with peasant farmers, become targets of suspicion, then threats, and sometimes assassination. Ciencia also alleged that elements of the 7th ID sometime "forcibly invite" rural farmers to their detachments for questioning on NPA links, creating a "climate of fear" among residents. 3. (U) Ciencia said that PRRM representatives increasingly must: -vary travel patterns;

-document death threats to their national organization; -self-impose a curfew; and,

-scale back the number of meetings with individual or groups of farmers. Ciencia insisted that PRRM has no connection to the CPP/NPA. He characterized the attitude of local farmers as now not trusting either the AFP or NPA. 4. (C) Leaders of two other NGOs in Nueva Ecija -- Movement for a Democratic Country and the Central Luzon Human Rights Defenders -- also pointed the finger at the AFP for likely responsibility in EJKs in a meeting with poloff on August 3. They said they now bring in non-local leaders to work in the area, because locally-based leaders are more easily targeted for assassination. They have also begun activities to raise awareness of personal protection. The local activists agreed that the lack of an effective witness protection program makes any kind of prosecution of EJK perpetrators especially difficult. ----------------Blame the NPA ----------------5. (C) Nueva Ecija Provincial Senior Board Member Eduard Thomas Joson (son of Governor Tomas Joson III) separately told poloff that the AFP has the lead in combating the CPP/NPA insurgency because the local PNP lacks sufficient arms to do so effectively. He claimed that security forces in Nueva Ecija are "very on top of things" and that

cases of EJKs are "isolated." He warned of infiltration of villages both by CPP/NPA operatives seeking to overthrow the local governments and by NGO representatives also espousing a Communist ideology. 6. (C) According to Nueva Ecija PNP PCSupt Ismael Rafanan, the recent upswing in violence in Central Luzon -particularly Bataan, Zambales, and Pangasinan -- was most likely linked to a purge by the CPP/NPA of rejectionist elements from their ranks. Rafanan described a major difficulty in prosecuting cases of EJKs as the reluctance of witnesses to come forward. Rafanan claimed that the NPA is currently amassing even more firearms, either by purchasing them from a weapons pipeline that starts in the southern Philippines, or simply by raiding rural PNP stations, as happened at the PNP detachment in Zambales in April 2006. ----------------------------------The Role of the Church and the CHR ---------------------------------7. (C) Cabanatuan Catholic Bishop Sofronio Bacud told poloff that he and the priests of his diocese work with other religious groups in the province as well as with the human rights NGO "Karapatan" to document cases of EJKs and other human rights violations. From January to July 20, they have documented six cases of summary killings and twenty-two cases of abduction and forced disappearance, harassment, torture, frustrated killing, and illegal search of domiciles in Nueva Ecija, he said. Bishop Bacud commented that the presence of MG Palparan now has the NPA more "on the run," but added that there is growing confusion

among farmers because both the AFP and the NPA are armed and run checkpoints on some of the same provincial roads. 8. (SBU) Central Luzon Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional Director Jasmin Regino separately expressed concern about the rise of EJKs in the region, and lamented the lack of witnesses to the cases as well as CHR's lack of resources, funding, and manpower as limitations to its own efforts in investigating these killings. 9. (C) Comment: EJKs remain a fact of life in many parts of the countryside, with Central Luzon now a special focus of concern. Septel will provide update on the efforts of the national level "Task Force Usig" of the PNP to investigate and prosecute the culprits (ref a), but the bottom line reality for many local activists, ordinary citizens, and local government officials is that assassinations remain cheap and easy to arrange while extremely difficult to solve. Additionally, as a Deputy Director for the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) commented separately, EJKs often reflect a pervasive "culture of impunity" that too often protects wayward provincial government authorities or local crime lords. Jones (Edited and reading.) reformatted by Andres for ease of