The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) deemed the verdict on the Subic rape case involving four US Marines a partial victory not only for the rape victim, Nicole, but also for the Filipino people. The group likewise reiterated its demand to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The VFA has allowed thousands of US troops to freely enter the country, stay indefinitely and leave whenever they want setting the conditions for human rights abuses and crimes against the Filipino people.
Makati Judge Benjamin Pozon sentenced Lance Corporal Daniel Smith guilty of raping Nicole but the court acquitted Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier for “lack of evidence.”
Dr. Carol Araullo, Bayan chairperson said, “We commend Judge Pozon for taking the side of justice, Nicole, and the Filipino people. At the same time, the acquittal of the three other accused has a lot to do with the lop-sidedness of the VFA and how the Arroyo administration made a mess out of the Subic rape case.”
Araullo explained, “The court handled the Subic rape case under the restrictive provisions of a one-sided agreement. The one-year deadline under the VFA worked against the victim who had the burden of gathering all the material evidence and testimonies of witnesses, including the driver of the van who got away without testifying and without any liabilities whatsoever. In addition, the fact that the US government immediately assumed custody over the accused provided the defense incalculable advantages apart from being an assault on our national sovereignty.”
Araullo said that the Arroyo administration cannot share in the glory of the historic decision since the Arroyo administration did not support Nicole but instead sabotaged her case from start to finish.
Araullo said, “The Department of Foreign Affairs did little, too late in requesting Philippine custody of the accused. The investigation was sloppy and the government prosecutors were lackadaisical if not negligent in securing the testimony of the driver that would have nailed the charge of conspiracy. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales was the most vocal in calling for the downgrading of the case and he publicly castigated the Tarlac fiscal as well as Judge Pozon for disagreeing with him. On the other hand, he refused to look into the victim’s complaint that public prosecutors, Atty. Emilie de los Santos in particular, were bungling the case and engaging in unethical behavior in terms of pushing for an out-of-court settlement.”
Moreover, Araullo said that Smith should immediately be jailed in the National Penitentiary. “This time, it would be utterly outrageous should the Philippine government accede once more to the insistence of the US government to retain custody.” Araullo noted, however, that so far officials have uniformly granted that the US could have custody according to the VFA.
Araullo called on the Congress and Senate to rescind the VFA and ban the further entry of American troops in the country. “Their presence poses many dangers not only to our women but to every Filipino’s security and well being. Their continuous presence reflects the subservience of the Philippine government to the US regime.”###