Monday, December 04, 2006

Subic Rape Case: Round 1 Victory

Justice has been served for Nicole and the rest of the accused with the verdict of Makati City Regional Trial Court judge Benjamin Pozon. With the “guilty” verdict slapped against Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, it is proven that our justice system works, and that anyone who violates the law will be meted out the appropriate punishment.

But this can also be seen as a “first-round” victory, with the issue of where Lance Corporal Smith will serve his penal term the next round to be fought. Under Article V, Section 10 of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which says, “The confinement or detention by Philippine authorities of United States personnel shall be carried out in facilities agreed on by appropriate Philippine and United States authorities. United States personnel serving sentences in the Philippines shall have the right to visits and material assistance”.

It can be said that the Guilty verdict served justice to Nicole personally. But justice to the Filipino people will be attained if the guilty party is imprisoned in the same facility as any ordinary Filipino would be detained if he is convicted of the same crime. If Juan Dela Cruz will be incarcerated in the Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa if he is convicted of rape, then Daniel Smith should serve time in the Bilibid for his crime of rape.

In the aftermath of the conclusion of this trial, it is appropriate for the Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement (LOVFA) to meet once again and discuss a possible review of the VFA in order to come up with proposals to the Executive Department on how to refine the agreement to address the concerns brought about by the Subic Rape Case.

One issue is the matter of custody of the accused while undergoing trial. The Philippines should have a stronger position in acquiring custody of the accused. Under the present provisions of the VFA custody of US personnel who have violated Philippine laws immediately reside with the United States. Immediate custody should be with the Philippines with the United States having the option to request for custody to be transferred to them.

Another is the issue of detention particularly after conviction. Those who have committed violations of Philippine laws should have equal treatment. If a Filipino convict goes to the National Penitentiary, then so should any foreigner who violates our laws. What we only need to guarantee to the Americans is the safeguarding of their citizens’ human rights.

3 comments:

Batang Munti said...

Why the lopsided Visiting Forces Agreement is allowed by the Arroyo administration? The Philippines should protect its interests not the interests of the United States. The rape case and other abuses can be blamed to VFA Filipino negotiators. It’s simple; they failed to protect the interest of the Philippines.

What’s your position to fraudulent Jose De Venecia’s Con-ass? Did you vote in favor of House Resolution 1450? Some Metro Manila lawmakers backed off from no election 2007 and Cha-cha for the fear of huge backlash from their constituents. The Roman Catholic Church and El Shaddai are planning massive protests to show peoples’ anger in the rape of democracy by the majority members of the lower house in the next few weeks. It's disgusting to witness how established parliamentary rules are broken and not respected just to satisfy greedy Gloria Arroyo and her puppets. The game is not fair. I hope you not in company with idiot Malacanang lapdogs.

Batang Munti

Macario Falafox said...

Is this good for the country in the long term basis? The United States military has cancelled its annual Balikatan exercises with the Philippines due to the continued detention of a US marine convicted of rape until the government and the courts ensure the Philippines is in full compliance with the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement). Admiral William J. Fallon, commander of US forces in the Pacific ordered the withdrawal of an aid team assessing the needs of a typhoon-ravaged area and canceled a number of visits by US warships. Aid and reconstruction programs of the US military in the Philippines will be suspended until he is assured that the rights of US troops under the VFA will be protected. Uncle Sam is flexing its muscle to protect its interests.

Ruffy Biazon said...

Batang Munti,

Thank you for your feedback!

I had always had a consistent stand on the charter change proposal as recently pushed by certain groups...not at this time, not in method they are doing and not for the reasons they are using.

I was not part of the group of metro manila congressmen who backed out because I did not join them in the pro-chacha group in the first place.

Mr. Falafox,

The americans will always fight tooth and nail for their interests. The question is, will Filipinos, especially their government, do the same? Apparently, the answer is in the negative.