Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A cry for justice

Nov 1, 2005 - a 22 year old Filipina was gang raped by 4 US soldiers in Subic. 'Nicole' was carried into a van, ruthlessly abused and then dumped naked, "like a pig," on a sidewalk.

Even before Nicole's case, hundreds have already been victimized by American soldiers in the Philippines. 1964, popular outrage sparked when news of an American soldier killing a young Filipino in Clark Air Base spread because of an alleged attempt to bomb a US school in Clark, followed by another killing in Subic Naval Base. 1968, another was killed in a US base in Cavite, and in 1969, a US soldier shot a Filipino with his service pistol, because the soldier has mistaken the man for a "wild boar."

Since 1988, 1,260 criminal complaints were filed against American troops in Clark, and another 2,005 in Subic. Of which, 15 are for sexual abuse of children 11-16 years old, and 82 for 16 and above. For sure, more cases have not been reported or documented. Of all these cases, not one American soldier was held accountable for any crime.

A year after the Subic rape, more than 5,000 Americans are in the country under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The government ratified the treaty despite popular opposition in 1999. Since then, 14 crimes have already been documented including vehicular accidents, oil spill, intervention in military operations and mauling.

Nicole knew she would be up against soldiers of the most powerful and most ruthless nation in the world. Despite that, she refused bribes and payments offered to settle and courageously filed and pursued a legal case against Lance Corporal Daniel Smith as principal accused and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood at Dominic Duplantis, and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier as co-conspirators.

The government, as expected, immediately went to the rescue of the Americans. Saying that the case was "isolated" and that it will not allow it to affect the "good relations" of RP and the US, it ignored calls to immediately scrap the VFA and end US-RP military exercises. The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Sec. Raul Gonzales was then tasked to sabotage the prosecution of the 4 Americans in court.

Proof of this is the government's refusal, early in the case, to even lift a finger to assert RP custody of the 4 accused Marines, which is a requirement of Philippine law. It instead bowed to the inutile provisions of the VFA and surrendered to the Americans the sovereign right to independently investigate, arrest, prosecute and punish a foreigner accused of crimes inside its territory.

One after the other, legal hurdles were met by Nicole's prosecution team, thanks to the government and DOJ?s Gonzales. The van driver, who was initially included in the accused, was dropped, in effect ridding the prosecution of a possible star witness.

Then, Gonzales ruled to downgrade the case against three of the four of the accused, a move that was met with disbelief even by the fiscal handling the case, who engaged Gonzales in a public argument but who was eventually forced to resign. Gonzales then, announces, like the devil proclaiming to the world that evil will triumph, that if he is to choose, he would not bother to pursue the case against three of the four and would just let them go home.

The government and Gonzales then appoints De Los Santos, a state prosecutor they could easily "handle," to lawyer for the victim, which in turn did her job nicely and among others, bungled the cross-examination of the principally accused Smith, and was accused by one of her co-state prosecutors of refusing to work properly, in effect, setting up the case to lose. While, according to the mother?s victim, she was pushing the Nicole to enter into an out-of-court settlement.
Nicole and her mother demanded the replacement of the public prosecution but Gonzales, of course, refused. The public prosecutors proceeded to sabotage the case until the trial ended last October 5.

The rape done to Nicole is a rape done to each and every Filipino. It is an insult to our country's dignity and our national sovereignty. What's worse is the fact that our government, in conspiracy with the US, has done everything to make sure that Nicole doesn't get justice in the court of law.

We must join Nicole and many other victims in their cry for justice. The US marines-rapists must be jailed and punished. The government's puppetry in this case should be exposed further and they too must be held accountable.

We must not allow the US military intervention in our country to continue. Thousands more will fall victim if we do not fight for the scrapping of VFA and the halting of the RP-US war games in the country.

We cannot allow the rapists and the puppets to continue gang raping our sovereignty and our people. We must fight until we triumph in our struggle against foreign, imperialist domination and for national freedom and independence.

Download the poster in printable format here. Please print and post.


At 4:09 PM, Anonymous ituloy angsulong said...

ituloy angsulong laban sa mga rapist!


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