New York/San Francisco–The national alliance of Filipino organizations in the US known as Bayan USA and its supporters strongly condemn the recent and brutal gang rape of a 22 year-old Filipina woman by at least six US Marines stationed in Subic Bay, Olongapo City two days ago last Tuesday, November 1.
The six suspects are currently being held in the Philippines under the custody of the US Embassy in Manila.
Bayan USA spokesperson Berna Ellorin asserted, “this heinous crime against the Filipino people at the hands of the US military troops commands nothing less than comprehensive justice. This can only mean
all efforts must be exerted by both the US and Philippine authorities for a full investigation of the alleged perpetrators. Absolutely no immunity must be granted to the six suspects under US jurisdiction. They must surrender to Philippine jurisdiction be tried and held accountable to the Filipino people and its legal system. The Macapagal-Arroyo government, if it is one with its people, must facilitate such a due process. Anything else is not justice.”
According to the unidentified female victim, the group of six US marines invited her to join them in a rented van after a night out in a karaoke bar. A few hours later, as reported by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), witnesses said they saw the unconscious woman’s body being dumped from the van on a road.
SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga confirmed that the six US servicemen–Keith Silkwood, Daniel Smith, Albert Lara, Dominic Duplantis, Corey Barris, and Chad Capent– were “identified by the driver of the van.”
Ellorin zoomed in on a vague claim by the US Embassy and US Charges D’Affairs Paul Jones that the US would “cooperate” with the Philippine authorities in an investigation of the incident.
“There is a century-long history of US military atrocities committed against Filipinos in the Philippines that were never brought to justice,” Ellorin stated, citing previous examples including the shooting of unarmed civilian Buyong-Buyong Isnijal by US Soldier Reggie Lane in Basilan back in July 2002, the shooting of Aetas (an indigenous people) near Subic back in the eighties by US troops who claimed to have mistook them as wild boar, and countless human rights violations and sexual offenses against Filipino women.
“In all cases, Philippine government surrendered its criminal jurisdiction to the US. US soldiers, as protected by provisions under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) are seldom surrendered to Philippine authorities much less tried under Philippine law. They are totally untouchable under US jurisdiction, despite crimes they can commit against Filipinos on Philippine soil. This means they can get away with anything from murder to gang rape, and not have to answer to the Philippine government,” Ellorin explained.
Ellorin cited the unconstitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement in the first place, stating it directly violates Philippine national sovereignty. “The VFA should be repealed at once, for the rights and
welfare of the Filipino people.”
Jones, on the other hand, refused to disclose the exact whereabouts of the six US rape suspects, who were among the 4,500 US servicemen in the Philippines for the Talon joint military exercises since several weeks
Bayan USA called for increased national action in indignation and demanding justice for the victim. It reiterated its call for the total and unconditional withdrawal of US troops and US military aid from the