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Filipino women say: Subic rape verdict falls short

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Reference: Marisa Mariano
Secretary General, babae San Francisco

babae is insulted and infuriated at the verdict made today, December 4, by Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon of the four U.S. marines who raped a 22-year old Filipina last November 2005. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was found guilty of rape and sentenced to 40 years in prison while Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis, and Chad Carpentier were fully acquitted. This incomplete justice is another validation of the abusive relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines.

babae maintains the position to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a lopsided agreement that favors the U.S. and compromises Philippine sovereignty. The VFA, which was ratified in 1999, grants extraterritorial and extrajudicial privileges to U.S. troops visiting the country for joint military “exercises” with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It provides that Philippine authorities shall waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction upon request by U.S. authorities, among other provisions that benefit U.S. troops. The presence of the U.S. military in the Philippines has brought an increased number of cases of American soldiers committing sexual assault against Filipino women and children. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers have not been punished for these crimes. Until the VFA is junked, US troops will continue to be present in the Philippines and Nicole will not be their last victim. babae has joined the ranks of women and human rights groups, in the Philippines and internationally, demanding an end to the VFA.

babae is also outraged that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez stated that the U.S. government will be permitted to fund and construct a separate cell with amenities such as air conditioning, a television and a refrigerator inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City for the convicted U.S. marine. This is just another example of the inequality of the VFA and the puppetry of the Philippine government, in which the lives of U.S. servicemen are valued more by the Philippine government than its own citizens. We demand that the convicted be served true justice and receive no preferential treatment.

Not only has Nicole not found the full justice that she deserves, she is also victimized everyday by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who continues to serve the interests of the United States. Nicole is not only victimized by the U.S. marines that raped her, she is also under attack by a president who neglects and abuses women by way of the VFA. The GMA Administration, which should have the best interests of its people in mind, is doing just the opposite. President GMA stands idly by as her own people suffer, prioritizing the master/servant relationship between the Philippines and U.S., at the expense of the dignity and respect of women such as Nicole. A president allowing her own women to be prostituted and raped by US military servicemen must be brought to justice. A president who sells out the sovereignty and dignity of the Philippines through the unjust Visiting Forces Agreement must be ousted. There is no pride in this, just shame, and a betrayal of a false president to its people. GMA must be held accountable for her failure in protecting all Filipinos.

Justice for Nicole!
Junk the Visiting Forces Agreement!
End violence against women!
U.S troops out of the Philippines!