20 March 2009
Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA-USA, National Coordinator (206)
859-7525, email email@example.com
Filipino-American Women Urge Obama to Revoke Support for Visiting
Forces Agreement and Pledge to Prevent a Thousand “Nicoles”
American women urge President Obama to look thoroughly into the Visiting
Forces Agreement (VFA) as it clearly justifies violence against Filipino
women at the hands of US military service and at the expense of US tax
payer dollars. The long standing notoriety of abuses against Filipino
women through direct military prostitution and trafficking have been
legitimated by policies such as the VFA.
Three years have passed since the sexual assault on “Nicole”, and Daniel
Smith, although convicted in 2006 for rape and sentenced to 40 years, has
not served a day of sentence in a Filipino jail. Through the Visiting
Forces Agreement, the U.S. insists that he should stay in U.S. custody
despite a Philippine Supreme Court decision that he should be under
Filipino-American women expressed disappointment with reports this week of
Obama’s phone call to Philippine President Arroyo expressing his support
for the Bush-era Visiting Forces Agreement, amidst heightened public
opinion for abrogating the VFA. Members of GABRIELA-USA, BABAE, Pinay sa
Seattle, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FIRE), criticized
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for failing to negotiate with Obama over the
rightful transfer of the convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith from
U.S. to Philippine custody. "Arroyo has proven once again that she cares
not for the sovereignty of our nation and the dignity of our people,
especially for the justice of a Filipino woman dragged dragged through the
contradictions in the VFA,” says Marisa Mariano, Chairwoman of Babae in
Even more disturbing is that
days after Obama and Arroyo’s phone conversation pledging mutual support
for VFA, a flurry of news reports stated that Nicole has agreed to a
monetary settlement with Smith and have already left for a new life in the
U.S. Her lawyer said that, "Nicole was tired of the case," and her family
did not want to be bothered by it anymore because they said, "there is no
justice in the Philippines." Smith and the Court of Appeals made a
settlement of 100,000 Pesos ($2,000 USD) for compensatory damages to
Nicole. This meager settlement exposes the clear lack of justice signed
into the VFA and the gross inability of the Arroyo government to stand
firm in defense of its people.
Many outraged Filipinos are
convinced that the settlement was a move by the U.S. and Arroyo
governments to try to hush the case and save the VFA. This is occurring
while thousands of Filipinos have clamored to scrap the agreement, which
has not even been ratified by the U.S. Senate or the Philippine Congress.
“As advocates for rape
survivors and other victims of abuse, we know full well the societal
tendencies to blame the victim or even for the victim to blame themselves
after undergoing trauma. It is so sad and disheartening that despite all
the things Nicole has gone through, she continues to be victimized and
used as a scapegoat to preserve U.S. military interventionism in the
Philippines,” says Valerie Francisco, chairwoman of Filipinas for Rights
and Empowerment in New York City. "But we know that Nicole is not the
first, nor is she the last to be victimized by the VFA. The growing
movement to scrap the VFA is to prevent a thousand Nicoles," added Valerie
GABRIELA-USA, along with
thousands of others in the Philippines, insist that President Obama
investigates the implications of the VFA for the people most affected by
its stipulations. We will continue to bring light to the stories of
thousands of Filipino women who historically and to the present suffer the
abuses of militarization. And we pledge to work towards preventing a
thousand more Nicoles.
To help JUNK the VFA, and make sure that no Filipina must go through the
same as Nicole, please sign:
Photos by SR of CONTEND-UP
March 20, 2009
For Reference:REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Lorie Ann A. Cascaro (Public Information Officer) 0920-9523463
Gabriela Solon calls to stop Nicole-bashing, further denounces VFA and
Phil. Justice System
Gabriela Women's Party-list Representative Luzviminda Ilagan called to
stop putting the blame on Nicole with her recantation on the rape case
against Daniel Smith who was convicted in December 2006, saying that
Nicole-bashing could not conceal the loopholes of the Visiting Forces
Agreement and the failure of the Philippine justice system to carry out
the terms of the conviction.
Since the publication of the new sworn statement of Nicole on March 12,
criticism aired against her has divided public opinion. It has been said
that she betrayed and failed to live up to the expectation of her
supporters for accepting the payment from Daniel's party. Some
commentators said that all she needed was a permanent US visa.
Nicole's flight to the US “for good” and the termination of the legal
services of Atty. Ursua made others believe that Nicole let go of the
cause she had fought for years with the militant and progressive
Rep. Ilagan, on the other hand, said that these statements digress from
the real issues at hand. Nicole's recantation, according to her, exposed
the reality that the Philippine justice system can not work to provide
protection to its own citizens and to pursue the implementation of a
judgment that has already been rendered. She further denounced the Arroyo
administration remaining servile to the interests of the US government..
Furthermore, Ilagan said had it not been for Nicole's courage to face the
court and to testify against her rapist, the VFA would not have been
scrutinized further revealing how lopsided the provisions are in favor of
the US military personnel.
Also, the Gabriela solon pointed out that Nicole has the right to decide
what's best for herself, considering all the pressures she experienced and
her disappointment over the inutile justice system of the current regime.
However, Ilagan said the ruling of the Court of Appeals should be awaited.
"Nicole's decision deserves the public's understanding in the light of
what she had personally gone through. Coming out to claim justice against
rape is the bravest decision she had done that must challenge other
victims of violence, especially in the hands of American soldiers during
Balikatan exercises." Ilagan added.
Together with other militant organizations who continue to denounce the
US-RP VFA, Rep. Ilagan and the Gabriela Women's Party-list vowed to fight
for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. #
19 March 2009
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-3221203
Gabriela to CA: Affirm Smith's Guilt
The militant women's group Gabriela stormed the Court of Appeals this
morning demanding that the Appellate Court affirm the guilty verdict
handed to L/Cpl. Daniel Smith. According to the women's group, the recent
developments on the Subic rape case is part of a grand scheme of the US
and the Philippine governments to absolve Smith and thwart the growing
demand for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
"The CA must seriously consider how Nicole's recent affidavit was
anomalously notarized by the law firm representing Smith. The CA must see
that it is a result of an underhanded manipulation of evil forces to
pressure the Higher Court and they must not cow to this. We expect the CA
to affirm Smith's guilty verdict to show that there is hope for justice
for Filipinos," said Emmi de Jesus, secretary general of Gabriela.
The women protesters carried placards calling for the imprisonment of
Smith in the New Bilibid Prison.
"While the Department of Justice claims that Nicole's affidavit will not
affect the legal case, other mouthpieces of the Arroyo government are also
laying the ground work to acclimatize the public for a possible acquittal
of the rapist Smith. This, we will not allow," added de Jesus.
"As far as the US government is concerned, the guilty verdict handed Smith
symbolizes the victory of the Filipino people's struggle against the
continuing US subjugation. Thus, the US government, with the Arroyo
regime, in cahoots, cannot and will not allow what they deem is an
insubordination of its subject," said de Jesus.
"We enjoin Filipino women and the rest of the people to secure what we
have achieved thus far. We must continue the fight to end the impertinence
of the United States in undermining the dignity of the Filipino people. We
must not allow the Arroyo government, in its utter puppetry to US, to sell
out the Filipino people. Smith must be imprisoned and the VFA must be
abrogated," concluded de Jesus. ###
18 March 2009
Source: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-3221203
Nicole's recantation serves US and Arroyo government most - Gabriela
The recantation of Subic rape victim Nicole serves mostly the interests of
the United States and the Philippine government in their bid to spare the
Visiting Forces Agreement from the growing people's clamor for the
Nicole is not the first and will not be the last rape victim to recant. As
a women's alliance that for 25 years has worked with women victims of
violence, we have faced many such situations. The battle for justice,
especially in a society as unjust as the Philippines, is never easy. This
rings more true when the enemy is not a mere criminal but a symbol of US
dominance over the Filipinos and the accomplice to the crime is a
Philippine government most servile to the whims of its master.
The Arroyo government can lie through its teeth and deny with all its
might its hand in Nicole's recantation but its track record only proves
otherwise. From the day the Subic rape became public, the Arroyo
government has utilized all legal and political means to protect and
absolve Smith. That the Arroyo government debauched justice by
surreptitiously transferring Smith to the US Embassy after Smith's
conviction is enough proof of where the government stands on the Subic
rape case. Currently, the Arroyo government, through its spokespersons,
cannot even hide its apparent glee at having served its US master well.
The victim has always been not just Nicole but the Filipino people. The
enemy has always been beyond L/Cpl. Daniel Smith but the United States
government and its military. The accomplice has always been more than the
three other US soldiers but the puppet Arroyo regime. The fight has always
been more than justice for the crime of rape but justice for a people
long-subjugated by the imperialist US.
The struggle for justice in the Subic rape case has never been just a
single Filipino woman's battle for her dignity. It had, and shall always
be, the battle of a people united to reclaim our national dignity.
The fight will continue. The Filipino women and the Filipino people shall
maintain its stance: Justice for the Filipino people! Jail the rapist
Smith! Junk VFA!
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23
E-mail: gabwomen@yahoo. com
GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women's
organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We
seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our
March 17, 2009
For Reference: REP. LIZA LARGOZA MAZA 0920-9134540
Francis Uyanguren (Public Information Officer) 0929-4511305
JUSTICE FOR NICOLE IS ARROYO'S BURDEN- Rep.Maza
“The termination of Atty. Ursua’s services as Nicole’s counsel is
immaterial to this criminal case. Nicole has done her part in filing the
case and testifying versus Smith. The burden now in seeing to it that full
justice is served lies in the hands of President Arroyo. She should assert
Philippine custody of Smith and she is the one who should be blamed not
Nicole if and when Smith continues to get away with the crime.”
This is the statement of Assistant Minority leader and Gabriela Women’s
Party Representative Liza Maza regarding the developments of Nicole’s case
versus convicted rapist Daniel Smith.
“Right from the start, the Arroyo administration has barely fought for the
rights of Nicole and other Filipino women abused by American troops.
President Arroyo’s unparalleled commitment to the US-RP VFA has indeed
allowed more abuses and exploitation to all Filipinos,” Maza added.
According to the Gabriela solon, Malacañang has never acted upon Supreme
Court’s decision ruling Smith’s immediate transfer to Philippine custody.
“More than a month has already passed yet President Arroyo has not
implemented the Supreme Court ruling. Earlier on, Nicole had already
expressed her disappointment on the justice system in our country. It only
shows whose interest President Arroyo is protecting. By brazenly entering
into a compromise pact with the U.S., this will further jeopardize the
welfare of Nicole and the Filipino women,” Maza concluded.
treatment for rapists akin to military henchmen
She had set them free, they who have trampled human dignity. That is how
the human rights group Karapatan sees the policy of President Arroyo
towards convicted unrepentant rapists and her military officials accused
of atrocities against civilians.
Karapatan said that perhaps the only difference is that Arroyo wanted to
give plum positions to her military henchmen like Gen. Jovito Palparan who
not only remain scot-free but also offered several government posts.
The human rights group had likewise accused Arroyo of abetting criminality
in the country.
"Mrs. Arroyo not only acquiesced extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances through Oplan Banta Laya, she has likewise condoned rape by
giving freedom to those who should serve their sentence," Karapatan said.
The rape case against Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith in 2005 and the statutory
rape against Congressman Romeo Jalosjos in 1997 were tried in the name of
the people of the Philippines, for which they were found guilty. "Yet, the
de facto Philippine President insists on giving preferential treatment to
Arroyo continues to insult us with the brazen display of power that came
with the position she arrogated upon herself. "We Filipinos do not have to
put up with this kind of governance, there should be a remedy to this
plague" the rights group said.
Karapatan lambasted Arroyo for her constitutional discretion to grant
presidential pardon to Jalosjos without regard to the fact that he had
raped a child, was without remorse and that he has not even served a
fraction of his sentence of two life terms.
Her government spirited away Cpl. Smith three years ago and connived with
the U.S. Embassy in harboring a man who raped a Filipina. "It is our
belief that the recent revision of Nicole's sworn statement was caused by
the seeming insurmountable odds foisted by the U.S. and Philippine
governments on 'Nicole' and her family, i.e., the connivance in coddling
her rapist and the obvious refusal to serve justice for this public
The group said Nicole's case became the case of the 'People of the
Philippines vs. Smith,' and that literally, a significant section of our
people helped Nicole attain conviction for the man who has violated her
human dignity and the dignity of our people. "It is the Arroyo government
that has tolerated this degradation and aggravated it."
Karapatan said they understand Nicole's predicament, saying that it is not
unusual that some victims would crumble when the state exerts its immense
power over an individual. "That is why it is all the more important for
people to rally behind them and the cause for justice."
"We condemned Arroyo and her minions for the practice of exerting undue
pressure on victims so that they would recant their testimony against
perpetrators, making them claim that they had done so “voluntarily” so
that they “could return to normal life.”
A normal life however could be difficult in this country human rights
violations occur everyday, where government reneges on its obligation for
reparation and restitution, where interests of a foreign power takes
precedence before the welfare of its citizens.
When victims crumble in the face of sheer power, all the more that
peace-loving Filipinos must work double-time to right what is wrong.
Public Information Officer +639189790580
March 19, 2009
Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA,
NICOLE'S SETTLEMENT AND OBAMA'S SUPPORT WON'T STOP THE FILIPINO
PEOPLE'S WILL TO TERMINATE THE VFA-- BAYAN USA
After launching an international petition campaign last week,
Filipino-Americans under the banner of the US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang
Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations in the
United States, pledged to heighten their campaign to abrogate the Visiting
Forces Agreement (VFA), despite reports of 22 year old Filipina Nicole's
leaving for the United States and a submission filed before the Court of
Appeals by the lawyer of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith
declaring that the former US Marine has settled with “Nicole,” who
received P100,000 for compensatory and P50,000 for moral damages.
The news of Nicole’s
settlement with Smith and release of a statement immediately followed
President Barack Obama's phone call to Philippine Head of State Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo supporting the joint military agreement between the US
and Philippine governments. It was with this phone call that Arroyo was
widely criticized for failing to negotiate for the transfer of Smith to
Philippine custody as per the Philippines Supreme Court’s decision. Now,
with reports of Nicole settling with Smith and going to the U.S. for good,
it is highly suspect that the reported settlement and statement which
attempt to undermine the guilty verdict against Smith, is part of the two
government’s efforts to preserve their “strategic interests.”
Timing of Settlement Highly
“Filipinos are well aware of the fact that one cannot just suddenly move
to the U.S. The timing and motives behind these recent turn of events are
highly questionable given that it comes at the height of the movement to
abrogate the VFA.” states BAYAN USA Secretary General Berna Ellorin. “It
is in the U.S. and Philippines interest, to remove the one unifying reason
of late to oppose it-- the rape of Nicole and demand to turn convicted
rapist Smith to Philippine jurisdiction," Ellorin added. “But this will
not lessen our resolve to call for the VFA's termination, which has not
even been ratified by the US Senate and not enforceable in the US given
the US Supreme Court decision in Medellin vs. Texas.”
Under the VFA, over 6000 US
troops are scheduled for deployment to the Philippines next month to
conduct war exercises with the Philippines military known as the Balikatan
exercises. "The US government wants to preserve its unilateralism in the
Philippines through the VFA and the Arroyo government wants to remain its
number one lapdog in Asia. It's the perfect scheme." said Kuusela Hilo,
Deputy Secretary General of BAYAN USA.
There Will Be More Nicoles
After a historic conviction in 2006, Smith was found guilty of raping
Nicole before dumping her brutalized body out a van. As stipulated by the
VFA, Smith was turned over to the US Embassy while protest demonstrations
in the Philippines and the United States called for the US government to
turn Smith over to a Philippine detention facility..
"We wish Nicole the best of luck in her desire to escape her past, but
Nicole is just one out of tens of thousands of Filipina women and children
who suffer from aggressive sexual crimes, human rights violations, and
indignities at the hands of the US troops stationed in the Philippines.
Some have been killed or have suffered severe injuries due to
indiscriminate shooting and war exercises. But because the VFA grants
immunity for US military personnel from Philippine laws, they are free to
commit grave crimes and don't have to worry about facing the Philippine
justice system," Hilo continued. "There will be more Nicoles for as long
as the VFA is still in tact."
No Change Under Obama
Nicole's dubious statement and settlement comes shortly after the
much-publicized phone call placed by US President Barack Obama to Arroyo
supporting the VFA. Under the Bush regime, the US government sent hundreds
of millions in military aid to the Philippine government for US military
operations in the Philippines.
"It is hypocritical for the Obama administration to support the VFA and
Arroyo. This signifies no departure from the much-hated Bush policies of
US intervention in the Philippines. Coming from someone who rode on the
slogan 'Change We Can Believe In', Obama’s US foreign policy so far in the
Philippines is no different from Bush in his push for costly US
militarization of the region and monetary support for a regime that has
proven itself to be tyrannical and to funnel US military aid towards human
rights violations against its people," Hilo ended.
Junk VFA Calls Will Only Grow Louder
Hilo is confident that the developments with Nicole and Obama won't weaken
the international campaign to terminate the VFA. BAYAN USA vows to take
the signatures from the petition campaign to Capitol Hill this year. "In
the end, this campaign is about respect and recognition for the national
sovereignty of the Philippines and the Filipino people, which ALL the
freedom and justice-loving peoples of the world agree with."
To view and sign the petition, visit
BAYAN USA will hold its 3rd Congress March 27-29 at the UCLA Downtown
Labor Center. To learn more about BAYAN USA, visit www.bayanusa.org. ###
Purok 2, Bagumbayan Daraga Albay
Tel. No. 483-46-24
PAHAYAG SA MIDYA
March 18, 2009
Jenelyn A. Nagrampa
HUSTISYA KAY NICOLE AT SA LAHAT NG KABABAIHAN AT BATANG BIKTIMA NG
KARAHASAN! IBASURA ANG VFA!
Nagulat ang mamamayang Pilipino sa biglang termination kay Atty. Evalyn
Ursua bilang legal consel ni Nicole at ang biglang pagbabago ng testimonya
nito. Matatandaang noong Nobyembre 2005 nang magahasa at magkaso laban kay
Lance Corporal Daniel Smith si Nicole kung kaya nahatulan noong 2007.
Subalit binawi kaagad si Smith pagkatapos syang mahatulan at kinuha ng
kustodiya ng US.
Noon pa man lumakas at bumuhos na ang simpatya at suporta kay Nicole
bilang isang Filipina na lumabas at nagsampa ng kaso ng panggagahasa laban
sa isang US serviceman. Lumakas at lumawak din ang ating panawagan para
ibasura ang Visiting Forces Agreement kung saan libreng nakakapasok ang
mga sundalong Kano sa ating bansa para sa mga military at Balikatan
exercises at nanggahasa pa sa isang Pinay.,
Mula nang ma-convict si Smith at kinuha ng US embassy ay nakita natin ang
di pantay na mga kasunduan sa ilalim ng VFA. Wala man lang ginawa ang
Malacanang sa desisyon sa kasong ito. Mas lalo lamang nalantad ang
gobyerno ni GMA dahil na dapat sana ay protektahan at panigan ang biktima
at ikulong sa Pilipinas si Smith. Kung kaya noon pa ay dismayado na si
Nicole sa sistema ng hustisya ng Pilipinas.
Ang mga pahayag at pagbabago ng desisyon ni Nicole at ng kanyang pamilya
ay malinaw na isang presyur mula sa gobyerno sa Pilipinas at US para sa
pagpapanatili sa magandang relasyon nito.Sampal sa ating gobyerno at sa
sistema ng hustisya ng Pilipinas. Nagpapatunay lamang na walang ginagawa
ang gobyerno upang mabigyan ng katarungan ang mga biktima ng karahasan sa
Ang kaso ni Nicole ay isa lamang sa libu-libong kaso ng mga kababaihan,
halimbawa sa mga OFWs sa ibang bansa na isinasakripisyo ng Pilipinas para
lamang mapanatili ang magandang relasyon ng US at Pilipinas.
Nirerespeto natin anuman ang naging desisyon ni Nicole, dahil siya ay
biktima pa rin at biktima ng kawalang hustisya sa ating bansa lalo na ng
mga programa at polisiya ng gobyerno tulad ng Visiting Forces Agreement.
Mananatiling malakas at patuloy ang ating panawagan ng pagbabasura sa
Visiting Forces Agreement, ang makaisang panig na kasunduang ito ay di
lamang sumasalamin sa isang babae katulad ni Nicole kundi sa buong bansa
na ayaw nang maulit ang ganitong paglalapastangan sa mga kababaihan at
soberanya ng Pilipinas.
US TROOPS OUT NOW!
BALIKATAN SA BIKOL TUTULAN, LABANAN!
P.O. Box 403 Time Square Station
New York, New York 10066
AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE
NICOLE/VFA CASE FOR AMERICANS OF PHILIPPINE ANCESTRY, FILIPINAS & WOMEN IN
March 18, 2009
His Excellency, Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20500
Cc: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Dear President Obama:
We write to you because we are disturbed and anguished by reports that the
U.S. government was complicit in the attempt to frustrate the course of
justice with regard to the rape conviction of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith in
A majority of our members are women of Philippine ancestry who already
have to contend with the persistent reputation of Filipinas as among the
most trafficked women in the world, both in the international labor and
sex markets, and as among those so victimized by sexual and domestic
Nine of the eleven women recently killed by intimate partners in Hawaii
were Filipinas, who also comprise 40% of women killed by intimate partners
in San Francisco. Filipino-American communities, from New Jersey to
Honolulu, suffer a high rate of violence against women. This perception of
Filipinas as "fair game" for sexual and other forms of violence was
created, among other causes, by more than a hundred years of being
prostituted to the U.S. military.
Enabling a member of the U.S. military now to avoid legal repercussions
for having sex, to the rowdy cheers of his fellow soldiers, with an
indisputably intoxicated 22-year-old woman, who was then tossed out of the
van in a state of semi-undress and semi-consciousness, is certainly not
the change we have been waiting nor looking for. These facts were not
disputed at the trial in the Philippines that convicted Lance Cpl. Daniel
Smith in 2006.
Many states in the United States itself accept by law the fact that an
inebriated woman cannot consent to have sex. This inability to give
consent supersedes any other circumstance that may appear to encourage
sexual attention, like wearing a short skirt, being flirtatious, or even
kissing the violator. In those states, what transpired between “Nicole”
and Cpl. Smith would be considered rape, especially as nothing was brought
forth at the trial that would imply consent on Nicole’s part.
We worry now that because of this bargain between the U.S. and Philippine
governments, U.S. military personnel may return to the U.S. believing that
soldiers have the right to force sex upon women in whatever circumstance.
No doubt you are already familiar with the unconscionable rate of sexual
harassment, rape and violence against women suffered by female soldiers
and military wives. This will but add to the U.S. military’s mistaken
impression that war, occupation or just being more powerful and with more
weapons than anyone gives them the right to defy U.S. laws, host
countries’ laws and international law.
The Nicole incident happened in November, 2005 and the following year, in
September, 2006, 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza was gang-raped and
murdered, along with her parents and younger sister, by U.S. troops in
If, way back in November 2005, the U.S. government and the U.S. military
had taken a strong stand against our troops inflicting sexual
violence/violence upon women in general and upon women of host countries
in particular, then we would not have this spectacle of avowed
“liberators” gang-raping and killing those they purportedly “liberate.”
Instead, the U.S. military threatened the Philippine government with
cancellation of humanitarian aid, with cancellation of joint military
exercises, and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines did everything possible
to frustrate the carrying out of justice for the rape of Nicole.
This is not the change we waited for.
In this era of change you vowed to bring with your inauguration as
president, at the very least, we are asking for specific provisions
protective of women, and against violence against women, trafficking and
prostitution in each and every military agreement, every Status of Forces
and Visiting Forces Agreement, that U.S. enacts with another country.
This would help institutionalize, on a global scale, the pro-women stance
that your administration made visible through your signing of the
Ledbetter Act and the creation of the White House Women’s Council.
Thank you. We await your reply – preferably with action.
Annalisa Enrile (interim Chair) Candace Custodio (Chair-elect)
Jollene G. Levid (Secretary-General)
GABRIELA NETWORK OF THE MARIPOSA ALLIANCE
P.O. Box 403 Time Square Station
New York, New York 10066
Page 3 of 3
Name Organization E-mail
March 19, 2009
ROY MORILLA, KMP Public Information Officer (63-905-421- 7305)
"Nicole is just a symbol, a victim of VFA and US foreign intervention
and abuse," - KMP
The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of
the Philippines ) described the rape-victim "Nicole" as just a symbol of a
victim of the Visiting Forces Agreement and US foreign intervention and
abuse in general. Given Nicole's social status, coming from an ordinary
family, the conviction of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is already a
significant victory, as justice in its usual slow pace in the country.
"Nicole is just a symbol, whether it is her or another young woman, they
would be symbols of the Filipina or the Filipino people being victimized
by the American soldiers using the VFA as their blanket protection, with
the VFA, the whole Philippines is like during the Filipino-American war
where Americans could just rape Filipinas without being punished and
remain scot-free," opened Danilo Ramos, KMP Secretary-General, in a press
"We are totally against the VFA as their Balikatan Exercises are always at
the countryside, at the farms of poor peasants and seas where fisherfolk
get their catch. During their drills, peasants are always banned at the
area, keeping them off of their crops and unable to harvest, they are
concretely violating our rights to livelihood," added Ramos.
"When Balikatan Exercises were in Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in
Nueva Ecija, farmers were banned at their farms and they were constantly
harassed to keep off their lands, even those peasants who are far from the
site of their exercises," shared Ramos.
"Also, small bars and beerhouses flourished near the gate of the camp of
Philippine Army 7th Infantry Division. There young girls from nearby
barrios were pushed to serve as GROs as they were in deep poverty and with
no source of income," Ramos called.
KMP believes that Nicole is a victim, the second time around. First, being
a rape victim, and now being victim of deceit from the Arroyo government
and the US who want to keep VFA from being abrogated. Nicole is a symbol
of a Filipino whose rights are violated, consequently being swindled to
keep silent and worse, to reverse her previous solid declarations of the
violation done to her. Whether Nicole wants it or not, she became a bearer
of the struggle of the Filipino people for their rights and against the US
foreign intervention and abuses. Her abandoning of the case against Smith
means the abandoning of the struggle of the Filipino people.
As the Arroyo government and US-geared for war of aggression-govermen t
are unyielding to continue the VFA, Nicole being an ordinary citizen is an
easy target for tempting offers and compromises. Also, as Nicole is on a
loser-attitude, the whole country would just wait for another rape victim
and the VFA would not be abolished through her case. She is also sending a
wrong message as her statement is just another form of Filipina allowing
American soldiers to rape them and consequently keep silent and accept the
enticement offered to them.
KMP reminds Nicole that she should be ready on the repercussions of her
actions. Though she innocently thinks that she has the absolute right
about her case and disregards the welfare of the Filipino people against
the VFA and the actual exploitation of American soldiers, it would not
change the legal conviction of Smith, instead it would only strengthen the
collusion between the Arroyo government and US. In addition, the family of
Nicole always claimed that they were ignored by the Arroyo government, but
now they are unknowingly serving the Arroyo government's interest by
abandoning the case. Nicole would be written on history as the rape-victim
where the Filipino joined her struggle that she eventually abandoned.
"In resolute pursuit, we are calling on all the peasants to organize to
fight against their displacement from their farms and for the abolition of
the VFA, various sectors such as the church, lawyers, students and others
to support the peasants on their struggle, and Filipinas to keep off
American soldiers as they could rape you and still remain free and
unpunished until the VFA is not abolished," Ramos declared.#
At the KMP Website, "Nicole is just a symbol, a victim of VFA and US
foreign intervention and abuse," - KMP
For more KMP statements, please visit our website, http://www.kilusang
League of Filipino Students
Mobile Number: 09158513904
March 18, 2009
LFS: DESPITE NICOLE, VFA STILL THE MAIN ISSUE; SC MUST INVESTIGATE
NICOLE’S ‘SINISTER’ AFFIDAVIT
“While Nicole’s recantation gives much disappointment to the youth and
students that supported her fight through the years, it does not make the
campaign for the junking of the VFA any less urgent nor valid.”
This was how the League of Filipino Students described the current
controversy on the recantation of Suzette “Nicole” Nicolas on the
circumstances of the rape by Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith that is now pending
for review in the Court of Appeals.
"The circumstances of the recantation are highly suspect, and this only
shows the desperation of the United States and the Arroyo government to
continue the VFA at all costs by derailing the very criminal procedure
testing the wisdom and validity of the VFA," said Terry Ridon,
spokesperson of the LFS.
He added that Nicole’s recantation and surrender is expected, given that
it seemed that it is the Philippine government itself that has been
lawyering for Daniel Smith, in custody negotiations and on the validity of
"All along, the Arroyo government in collusion with the United States has
been creating the conditions for an acquittal of Smith, and more
importantly, the continuing implementation of the VFA in the Philippines,”
He added that the Supreme Court should investigate the propriety and
validity of Nicole’s affidavit, whether it was submitted merely to
influence the appellate proceedings being conducted in the Court of
Appeals at present.
“The affidavit is nothing but a product of sinister legal minds, to create
reasonable doubt in the minds of the public and the Court, and provide and
excuse for an eventual acquittal.” Ridon says.
He then challenges the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals to maintain
the integrity of the appellate proceedings and reject the inclusion of an
affidavit filed out of time, and tainted with dubious credibility.
He says finally that in addition to the legal battle in the courts, the
LFS together with different sectoral organizations shall also join the
Junk VFA mobilization on the 21st of March, in front of the US Embassy to
demand justice for Nicole and the decisive abrogation of the VFA.
Ron Villegas, LFS Vice Chairperson and Information Officer, 09239130516,
Terry Ridon, LFS Spokesperson, 09158513904, firstname.lastname@example.org
"the development of each is the development of all."
Here's something that a UP law
student, Rob Ty, wrote on the Nicole recantation. (He was from the
U.P.Paralegal Volunteers' Organization. )
Nicole did not fail us. The
justice system did.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan's words, not mine. But I completely agree with
Let's one thing straight: We are not the victims here. She is.
We've never been raped. Never been exposed to an overblown media circus.
Never been agitated in court. Never been harassed by reporters, lawyers
and embassy men. So when someone like Korina Sanchez announces on her AM
radio station that Nicole is a disgrace to Filipino women everywhere
(translated from tagalog), you can't help but shudder. So this is justice,
this is hate. It's no wonder she left the country.
We are not the victims here. Yet, we are the ones who cannot forgive.
Here we are, sitting in our armchairs, waving our nation's flags, our
gender's hopes, our nurtured concepts of justice.
But the thing is, we did nothing.
We let people like Raul Gonzalez change the prosecutors of the case.
We let people like NSA Norberto Gonzales change custody of Smith in the
dead of the night.
We let the US embassy exert pressure on Nicole by withdrawing her US VISA.
We allowed countless women like Nicole to be gobbled up by the system, by
So who are we to judge?
Who are we to cast the first stone?
Truth be told, we've already used her up.
We got the conviction - which allowed us to question the VFA in the
We got the Supreme Court decision.
What more do we want?
Maybe just more blood, sweat and tears.
what can we do?
Right now, if you really care for Nicole, you will support the drafting of
a disbarment complaint against Daniel Smith's lawyer.
At the time of the affidavit (March 12), Evalyn Ursua was still Nicole's
lawyer. She was only fired last Monday (March 16).
Smith's lawyer violated a cardinal rule of legal ethics by talking to
Nicole behind her lawyer's back.
Why is this unethical? The legal reason is that it undermines a fellow
attorney's ability to handle her client's case. It's a form of disrespect
for a colleague.
The practical reason is to prevent people from being tricked since the
best defense against the opposing lawyer, is your own lawyer.
In the case of Camacho v. Pangulayan, a UP law professor accused some
lawyers of directly negotiating with his clients in order to obtain an
In effect, they ignored him even though he was the counsel on record.
The Court agreed with the professor and said that the failure to inform
opposing counsel is an inexcusable violation of the canons of professional
ethics and in utter disregard of a duty owing to a colleague.
The erring lawyer was suspended from the practice of law for three months.
Fast forward to the present:
Smith's lawyer prepares a statement, has a junior associate (who, by the
way, is a UP law graduate) notarize the document, and then asks Nicole to
sign it as a condition for the release of her VISA and 100,000 pesos.
All this WITHOUT EVER consulting her counsel on record.
If Nicole had a lawyer, she might still have signed the affidavit. But it
would have never looked this bad.
Take a look at paragraphs 6-10, which incorporate all the arguments the
defense raised during trial.
ALL OF THEM.
And then take a look at the last sentence of the affidavit:
"I would rather risk public outrage than do nothing to help the court in
ensuring that justice is served."
The sentence brings a whole new low to the legal profession. I admit I am
ashamed of what we have become.
Nicole left everything behind so she could start anew, and I don't blame
Not one bit.
Topic: Visiting Forces
Agreement and Question of Custody of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and Our
By: Rep. Liza Largoza-Maza
Gabriela Women’s Party
Date: March 2, 2009
Madam Speaker, Distinguished Colleagues,
I rise today in commemoration of March 8, International Women’s Day to
once again raise the voices of women on the issue of custody and detention
of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, a U.S. serviceman found guilty of the
crime of rape against a young Filipina in Subic, Olongapo, and how the
Visiting Forces Agreement remains to be a hindrance to the achievement of
full justice for the victim and continues to be a threat to our dignity as
Filipinas and sovereignty as a nation.
Madam Speaker, last February 12, the newspapers headlined the Supreme
Court ruling that the American marine convicted of raping Nicole, not her
real name, should be detained in a Philippine-run facility and not at the
U.S. Embassy, while waiting for the result of his appeal. While we laud
such decision of the Supreme Court, the Gabriela Women’s Party remains
wary and doubtful that this will be implemented even as we call for the
immediate turn-over of Smith to the jurisdiction of the Philippines. We
are saddened and we protest the decision of the Supreme Court that the
RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement which governs the conduct of servicemen in
joint military exercises in the Philippines, is constitutional. On the
contrary this is an affront to our sovereignty!
Looking back, on December 4, 2006, Lance Corporal Smith was tried and
convicted by the Philippine Court of raping a Filipino woman, at the Subic
Bay Freeport on November 1, 2005. He was sentenced to reclusion perpetua
or a maximum of 40 years in prison by Makati Regional Trial Court Judge
Benjamin Pozon. He was initially held at the Makati City Jail.
A day after Smith’s conviction, his lawyers filed an appeal citing Article
5, paragraph 6 of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which
provides that Smith should remain in custody of the US military
authorities at the US Embassy until the end of all judicial proceedings,
including the appeal. Expectedly, the US Embassy and the Philippine
Foreign Affairs and Justice Departments concurred with Smith’s position.
However, Judge Pozon dismissed Smith’s appeal on December 13, saying the
US custody of Smith was “terminated after the completion of the trial and
rendition of the judgment of conviction.” Judge Pozon also said that
during the appeal and until further orders from the Makati court, Smith
should stay at the Makati jail until an agreement as to the proper
detention facilities for Smith should have been forged by appropriate
Philippine and US authorities.
Smith’s lawyers brought the custody issue to the Court of Appeals on
December 15, 2006 and on December 22 of the same year, Foreign Affairs
Secretary Alberto Romulo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney signed an
agreement to detain Smith in the compound of the US Embassy. By signing
this agreement, the Department of Foreign Affairs has virtually allowed
the US to stamp on our national dignity and sovereignty.
The decision of the Makati Court is clear—that Smith should be jailed in
our detention centers. But in a cowardly and dastardly manner, apparently
fearing that outrage may spark from various groups, the Department of
Interior and Local Government under Secretary Ronaldo Puno, like a thief
in the night, when everyone was busy with the holiday season,
surreptitiously transferred Smith to the custody of the US Embassy on
December 29, 2006.
On January 3, 2007, the Court of Appeals made a ruling on Smith’s petition
for a temporary restraining order on his detention at the Makati jail. It
asserted the power of the Philippine government over the US Visiting
troops. However, it also said that the agreement between our Department of
Foreign Affairs and Ambassador Kenney that resulted in the transfer of
Smith to US jurisdiction had rendered moot the custody dispute.
Three things have become very clear in this historical experience: One, it
clearly shows how the Arroyo government could easily twist our justice
system in favor of the U.S. interest. Second, it shows that the Visiting
Forces Agreement, could easily let accused and convicted US soldiers go
scot free. Third, the Visiting Forces Agreement is a lopsided agreement,
skewed in favor of the US and the interest of those in power in the
Now, the Arroyo government is faced with the Supreme Court ruling of
Smith’s detention in the Philippine territory. However, the Arroyo
government, instead of taking immediate steps to commit Smith to a
Philippine jail, is taking its sweet time to wait until the U.S. is ready
to talk. In fact, Malacañang, for its part, has said it will appeal the
high court decision, maintaining that the agreement between Romulo and
Kenney, which the tribunal declared unconstitutional, was valid.
But then again, while the ruling of the Supreme Court on Smith’s detention
in the Philippines vindicated us, the decision was watered down by the
High Court’s order that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) negotiate
with the US government for Smith’s transfer to a mutually acceptable
detention facility. This gives the US and the Arroyo regime the
opportunity to indefinitely delay the said transfer and even construe it
in a way that favors Smith and future offenders.
We cannot understand why the Arroyo government could not impose its own
laws over a foreigner who violated those laws. We could not understand why
our sovereignty should be subject of negotiation. It is the height of
callousness of the Arroyo government to negotiate the dignity of our
women. The Arroyo government has claimed that the country benefits
immensely from the VFA. This is highly debatable. The counter-terror
trainings or even the military aid have not helped modernize our AFP.
On a deeper analysis, the
Visiting Forces Agreement is far more than the case of Smith and Nicole,
it is about our sovereignty, our independence and self-determination and
our dignity as a people which are being trampled upon by this agreement.
The RP- US Visiting Forces
Agreement is a one-sided agreement. It is not even enforceable in the US.
It is only the Philippines that has ratified the agreement and enforcing
Under the Medellin ruling, penned by US Chief Justice John G. Roberts,
concurred in by five out of nine US justices in the US Supreme Court on
March 25,2008, the VFA is not enforceable in the US as the US Congress has
not enacted any law implementing it and because the VFA is not “self
The unequal legal status of the VFA- enforceable in the Philippines and
not enforceable in the U.S. violates Section 25 of Article XVII of our
Constitution which requires that foreign military bases, troops, or
facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty
concurred in by the Senate … and recognized as a treaty by the other
contracting state. Yet despite this insult in our sovereignty the
Philippine Supreme Court with the exception of four justices upheld that
the VFA is constitutional.
The US government through this decision is given a free reign to station
unlimited troops in the Philippines for an indefinite period of time sans
any basing treaty, and to increase the scope of its intervention. The US
personnel get special treatment even if they violate our laws. The US
personnel pay no taxes nor are required to have visas.
While the pact stipulates US military basing in the Philippines to be
“temporary”, the truth is US military presence in the Philippines has no
genuine intention of leaving. In fact, under the Bush-Arroyo framework of
the Philippines as the “Second Front” to the Global War on Terror, the
United States through the VFA has made the country its entire military
As our experiences with the Balikatan exercises have shown, the VFA has
resulted in the permanent presence of US troops in the Philippines.
BAlikatan exercises have been conducted in Cebu, Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro
Central Luzon, and now Bicol. They are free to enter any port in our
territory. The Balikatan exercises not only increased the number of US
troops in the Philippines to the thousands it also paved the way for the
reported construction of US military facilities in Mindanao. It paved the
way for an increase in millions of US tax dollars as US military aid to
the country, a package that has been linked to the proliferation of human
rights violations wherever Balikatan exercises are held.
We can cite various examples of these human rights violations besides the
Nicole case perpetrated in the context of the VFA. To cite a recent
example, the preparatory exercises and clearing operation of Philippine
military’s 901st Brigade for the coming of the US troops in Ligao, Albay
resulted in the death of 16-month old Rafaella Polvorido and injuries to
at least six other small children and three women who were left
traumatized. Polvorido’s case is just the latest in a long history of
senseless civilian deaths that have resulted in joint military agreements
between the US and Philippine governments since 1946.
The Arroyo administration is ecstatic when it gets humanitarian missions
and counter-terrorism training through the VFA but ignores the many human
rights violations perpetrated by the US forces . The humanitarian missions
on the other hand merely cover up the military operations being carried
out by the US troops in Philippine territory. The US is trying to create
an illusion that there are mutual benefits in the VFA. Both the US and the
Philippine government are in apparent collusion to justify the continued
implementation of the lopsided agreement
Madam Speaker, some members of the Senate viewed the VFA must be scrapped.
Various sectors of our society especially the women have expressed their
protest against the VFA. It is high time that the House of Representatives
must also express its sense that the Visiting Forces Agreement must be
Undoubtedly, the Visiting Forces Agreement has made our country as the
entire military base of the U.S. They can roam around freely, rape our
women freely, interfere in our internal affairs freely.
We can not forget the most recent interference of US troops in the
internal armed conflict in Mindanao or their interference in a local
hospital in Sulu.
Women’s experiences on US military bases in Subic and Olongapo speak of
victimization and exploitation. Who could forget the stories of rape,
violence and trafficking of more than 55,000 women into prostitution
around the bases areas in Subic and Olongapo. This does not include
prostituted children. We can not again let this happen to our women and
Related to this, Madam Speaker, the Gabriela Women’s Party strongly
protest the dismissal in the US military court of the case against a US
serviceman who raped a Filipina in Okinawa. As our experiences in the
Nicole case had shown, no real justice could be served in courts where US
interest is at stake and where governments are subservient to US wishes.
We succeeded in ousting the U.S. bases, this time let us not allow the VFA
to remain and create more havoc on the lives of our people especially our
Madam Speaker, I urge this house to express its sense that Lance Corporal
Daniel Smith should be committed to the Philippine jail and no less than
the National Bilibid Prison. I urge you all my distinguished colleague to
stand up and call for the scrapping of the RP-US Visiting Forces
I also urge this Congress, Madam Speaker, to express its support to the
Filipina rape victim in Okinawa the way we supported Nicole. Let us
advance the dignity of the Filipina and be true to the legacy of the
International Women’s Day. Let us scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement! Let
us oppose US military basings in our country and elsewhere.
Thank you and good evening.
News Reports and Anti VFA
Securing VFA behind US, Arroyo governments' snatching of justice from
CPP denounces Obama-Arroyo "deal" to keep the VFA
‘Nicole’ Ex-Lawyer on Termination of
Services: I was Prepared for This
Evalyn Ursua, whose services as lawyer
of Subic rape victim “Nicole” were recently terminated, says she was
prepared for such a possibility. Still, she went on, and credits her
erstwhile client for sticking it out “during the (most) difficult period.”
Smith Custody Case Show ‘Vestiges of Past
Lopsided Relations’ with US
The Smith Custody Battle, a Question of Power and
Para sa Bayan, patunay lamang ng "inareglong"
pagbawi ni Nicole sa naunang pahayag na ginahasa siya ng sundalong Kano
na napakahirap sa isang biktima na makakamit ng hustisya sa Pilipinas.
Patunay umano ito na dapat na talagang ibasura ang VFA.
Minatamis na Candy by VFa
Paalam Uncle Sam
GI Joe by Anak ni Aling Juana
While Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan
critiques the US power play in Mindanao and elsewhere in the Philippines
and throughout the world, these kids -- who marched with their parents to
the US embassy -- play their own game.. Two older kids climbed a
tree for a better view of the rally speaker and the US embassy.