December 3, 2006
PHILIPPINE-US Women's Group, GABRIELA Network Demands Philippines Assert Jurisdiction- Put US Marine Smith in Philippine Jail
At 9pm this evening (already December 4, 1pm in the Philippines), GABRIELA Network (GABNet) stood vigil waiting for the verdict of the Nicole Subic Bay Rape case. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, one of the four US Marines accused of the rape of Nicole, was found guilty by the Makati Regional Trial Court. Lance Corporal Smith's three co-defendants were acquitted. For Lance Corporal Smith who was found guilty, women's groups led by GABRIELA Philippines and the GABRIELA Women's Party call for the Philippine government to now exercise their sovereignty and take Lance Corporal Smith into custody to serve his time in a Philippine jail.
"We are not happy with the full verdict," Lalee Vicedo, GABNet Campaigns Director said, "We fully believe that the four acted together and so no one should have been acquitted of their actions, but given the verdict, the guilty should be treated as such." GABNet will continue to call for the remanding of Lance Corporal Smith into Philippine custody as well as an overall call to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement. This case is a landmark as it is the first time an American soldier has been found guilty of a crime since the US bases were shut down in 1992. As with the fight for the removal of the US bases from the Philippines more than a decade ago, Philippine women were instrumental in demanding justice for Nicole. It was the women's militant stance, their unwillingness to let Nicole continue to suffer from blatant victim blaming, and their commitment that has been able to expose US Military's exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people. This has occurred on a global level with vigils being held all over the world in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Last week, GABNet held vigil right at the gates of US Marine bases in San Diego, California. This was held amongst catcalls and insults hurled by US soldiers, indicative of the US's view of the Philippines.
From the beginning of the case, the US government has shown absolute contempt of the criminal justice system of the Philippines, not even bothering to go through the motions of as the accused rapists were never put under the custody of Philippine authorities. In fact, the Philippine government under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has colluded with the United States by complying with the unfair provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement such as having the judicial proceedings completed within a one year period and the custody of the four accused US Marines being under the supervision of US rather than Philippine authorities. Now that a verdict has been handed down and Lance Corporal Smith judged guilty, he should be treated as any other criminal and serve his time in a Philippine prison. "This is not just a case about one woman," GABNet Chair Annalisa Enrile states, "This case is about the Visiting Forces Agreement and how it has reintroduced the US Military back to Philippine soil and all the issues that go along with that such as rampant violence against women. The judge in this case has ordered that Smith be handed over to a Philippine jail, but we'll see. The Arroyo government has gone out of her way to remain a puppet of the United States than she has done in upholding the rights and dignity of the Filipino people, especially the women."
Now that the decision of custody is in the hands of the Arroyo government, we urge the Arroyo government to take a stand for Nicole by taking her rapist into custody for life in a Philippine jail. The United States should not be allowed to invoke the VFA to provide further reasons to keep Corporal Smith out of Philippine custody. GABNet urges all women's groups, all people's organizations, and freedom loving people to stand with us to demand real justice for Nicole and real sovereignty for the Filipino people.
PLEASE CIRCULATE FAR AND WIDE...
U.S. Marine convicted in Philippines
By TERESA CEROJANO, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 4, 6:55 AM ET
MANILA, Philippines - A U.S. Marine was convicted Monday of raping a Filipino woman and sentenced to 40 years in prison, ending an emotional trial that has strained U.S.-Philippine ties and tested a joint military pact.
Three other Marines and their Filipino driver were acquitted of complicity.
Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, 21, from St. Louis, was the first American soldier convicted of wrongdoing in the Philippines since the country shut down U.S. bases here the early 1990s. His lawyer, Ricardo Diaz, said he would appeal.
Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier, Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood and Lance Cpl. Dominic Duplantis, who had been accused of cheering Smith on, were freed.
Smith, who was in the country for joint training, did not deny having sex with the 23-year-old woman but testified that it was consensual.
The court said the woman, known publicly by her pseudonym "Nicole," was so intoxicated that she could not have consented to sex, pointing to testimony that Smith carried her to a van where the incident occurred on Nov. 1, 2005.
"He was the one who was on top of the complainant, she resisted his kisses, pushed him and fought him back until she lost consciousness because of alcoholic drinks she had taken," said the decision by Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court. A court employee read the decision live on national television.
Pozon said in English that the severe penalty was aimed "to protect women against the unbridled bestiality of persons who cannot control their libidinous proclivity."
Some cheers and applause broke out in the courtroom, and Nicole began weeping as supporters embraced her.
"We're very happy, we laud Judge Pozon for showing courage and judicial independence," the woman's lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, said.
About 100 protesters had gathered outside the courthouse, demanding the government scrap the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement that allows U.S troops to train with Philippine troops after the Philippine Senate ordered U.S. bases shut down in the early 1990s.
Under the pact, the Marines were placed under U.S. custody during the court proceedings.
The U.S. military presence in the Philippines has been credited with helping Filipino troops crack down on Muslim militants in the country's south but activists have rallied against the treaty, saying it favored Washington.