BAYAN marks Iraq war anniversary,

calls for US troop pullout in Iraq and junking of VFA

 

Manila

 

March 21, 2009

 

Bonus Tracks

 

 

   

 

The Fight Should Rage On
Alexander Martin Remollino

For Atty. Evalyn Ursua and other advocates of Philippine sovereignty

Truly,
this exchange of fire was never about one woman alone.
Our banner was being ripped from its pole
as her clothes were being torn from her,
but she was never our colors' sole carrier.
She was not the first to fall prey to uniformed night beasts
from "the great humanitarian North American nation",
and there will be many more who will wake on a pile of garbage
by the boardwalk, stripped almost to the bone
so long as uniformed bearers of the Stars and Stripes
are allowed to run around like mad beasts
in our own land.
The fight can rage on even without her,
it should rage on even without her!

Let us march on in pursuit of the honor and justice
that have long eluded us.
 

 
/p

/p
           

 

 

OPPOSE THE US INVASION AND OCCUPATION OF IRAQ,
DEMAND TOTAL, IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL
OF US AND OTHER FOREIGN FORCES OF AGGRESSION


By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson
International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
20 March 2009


 

After six years of brutal occupation following the widely condemned US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the US government has found itself more isolated than ever before. The people of the world are outraged that at a horrendous cost the US has committed the worst form of terrorism, the crime of aggression, in order reduce Iraq to a puppet state, take control over its oil resources and establish permanent US military bases on Iraqi territory.

More than one million Iraqis have been killed, including hundreds of thousands civilians, by US bombs, missiles and shells deliberately rained on non-military targets including neighborhoods, hotels and hospitals. Five million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes, seeking shelter in refugee centers within Iraq and in neighboring countries. The Iraqi infrastructure is in shambles despite billions in reconstruction contracts cornered by US firms (including Halliburton, which US Vice President Cheney has favored and continued to receive compensation from.)

At least 4,200 US soldiers have been killed and more than 45,000 wounded in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. In Afghanistan, more than 620 US soldiers have been killed and more than 2,300 wounded since the October 2002 invasion of Afghanistan.

The US has spent more than USD 600 billion on the war in Iraq, and more than USD 200 billion in Afghanistan. The US Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would cost US taxpayers up to USD 2.4 trillion projected up to 2017, including interest payments for debts incurred to finance the wars. Other more comprehensive estimates show that the financial cost will run up to far more than USD 3 trillion.

The US has absolutely no justification for its invasion of Iraq. This is a blatant violation of the charter of the United Nations. It is shamelessly based on patent lies. The claim about the link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden was unfounded and the “high-quality intelligence” purportedly proving that Iraq possessed and threatened to use Weapons of Mass Destruction against the US was proven to be pure fabrication.
 

The majority of American people themselves have expressed their outrage at the crimes of the US, particularly the Bush regime, against the Iraqi people by repeatedly holding massive protest demonstrations demanding US withdrawal from Iraq and the impeachment or prosecution of Bush and Cheney as war criminals. As presidential candidate, Barack Obama declared that the US war in Iraq “should never have been authorized and never been waged," and promised to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months of assuming office. In a lame last-ditch attempt to feign innocence by admitting to a lesser and already undeniable offense, Bush said a month before stepping out of office, “The biggest regret of all the presidency was to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq.”
 

But the people of the world people, the Americans included, cannot be deceived. While the slick orator candidate Obama appeared to offer a different US course in Iraq, he made it clear even then that the US shall continue to use its military superiority to the hilt to promote US geopolitical and economic interests and consolidate its global hegemony, under the pretext of waging a borderless “war on terrorism”. Soon after his election, President Obama unequivocally signalled that US global and regional military strategy remain unchanged by holding over Bush’ Defense Secretary Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen, General Raymond Odierno, the US field commander in Iraq, and General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command and architect of the "surge" in Iraq.
 

Indeed, President Obama announced only last 27 February a timetable for withdrawing 100,000 troops from Iraq by end of August 2010. But he quickly picked up US military double-speak by declaring that by then “our combat mission in Iraq will end” even as 35-50,000 troops, mostly Special Operations Forces, will remain in Iraq for “training, equipping and advising Iraqi security forces, conducting targetted counter-terrorism missions, and protecting our ongoing civilian military efforts within Iraq”. (US military doctrine since 1998 have categorized these as “stability operations” as distinguished from “combat operations” but at the same time emphasize that stability operations are undertaken under very volatile situations that could quickly shift from non-combat to combat, and should thus be planned, prepared for and undertaken with the same procedures and considerations as a combat operation.)


Moreover, the withdrawn troops will not be necessarily sent back home as the majority Americans hope for and demand. At least 20,000 will be redeployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other areas where the Obama government may find a greater need for military presence and activity. No sooner had he assumed office when Obama made good in Pakistan his declaration that the US will continue to strike unilaterally against “confirmed targets” anywhere there are terrorists even without the knowledge or approval of the host government if the latter fails to take appropriate action.
 

Worse, Obama completely reversed his assessment of the Iraq war in the same speech where he announced the timetable for troop withdrawal when he told the US marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, "You have fought against tyranny and disorder… You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq," apparently referring to “democratic elections” under the tutelage of the US occupation army. Obama won instant acclaim for this from the Republican Party and other right-wingers, with The Wall Street Journal calling this speech "Obama's Bush Vindication."

The Iraqi people continue to wage and intensify their just revolutionary armed struggle for national liberation against US imperialism and its craven Iraqi puppets. Daily, they inflict losses and weaken the foreign aggressor and puppet forces as they frustrate and defeat US domination and plunder in their country. The day will come when they will drive out the foreign troops from their land and again hold their destiny in their own hands.

The ILPS stands in solidarity with and support the Iraqi people in their revolutionary struggle for national liberation and joins all freedom-loving and democratic forces in supporting this just and heroic struggle. We call on all the peoples of the world to mark the sixth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq by opposing the continuing US aggression in Iraq and demanding the total, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US and other foreign military forces from Iraq. ###

 

 

Warplanes over Mindanao, Panay, Bicol......Manila

     
     
     

 

 

 

 

           
     
     
           

 

Bayan marks Iraq war anniv, calls for US troop pullout in Iraq and junking of VFA
News Release
March 21, 2009

On the sixth anniversary of the United States invasion of Iraq, hundreds of Filipino activists held a protest near the US embassy in Manila. The groups were assailing the “lack of change” in the Bush policies both in Iraq and in the Philippines.

“It has been six years since the brutal US invasion of a sovereign nation. It has been six years when we were lied to by Bush about the presence of alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There have been more than 1.32 million deaths resulting from the continuing occupation of Iraq and the deaths keep rising,” said Bayan chair Carol Araullo.

“The world marched and protested the Iraq invasion in 2003. We have not stopped marching and protesting because the US occupation has not ended, even under the Obama administration. The most urgent thing to do now is to immediately and unconditionally pull out US troops in Iraq. It is clear that the invasion was meant to advance US economic and political interests and nothing else,” she said.

In 2003, Bayan was part of a global campaign protesting the Iraq war. The Philippine protests culminated in a “Peace” rally in Luneta.

“Special mention should be given to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who dragged the Philippines into the Iraq war by sending Filipino troops to Iraq. Had it not been for the kidnapping of Filipino worker Angelo dele Cruz, the Arroyo government would not have pulled out Filipino soldiers in Iraq. The unrepentant Arroyo must be made accountable for her support for the Bush war on Iraq,” Araullo said.

Unchanged relations with the Philippines

The rally on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion coincides with another controversial issue involving US troops. Protesters at the US embassy were also demanding the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement which allows the presence of the US forces in the Philippines and gives them certain special privileges when it comes to criminal prosecution.

”If Mr. Obama will be pulling out US troops from Iraq as he promised, he should also pull out US troops stationed in the Philippines. He should also end the annual Balikatan war games involving thousands of US troops. Honestly, we don’t see any of the changes he promised. We don’t see the departure from the Bush foreign policies, as far as the Philippines is concerned,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, JR. said.
“If the Obama phone call to Arroyo is any indication, it appears that the US troops want to stay for good in the Philippines. It would be the second time Obama has expressed support for the grossly unequal VFA. The first time was during Arroyo’s visit to the US when Obama was still running for president,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that Filipino Americans in the US also joined the protest actions and demanded the scrapping of the VFA. An international petition is being organized by Bayan –USA to demand an end to the controversial military pact.

“How can Obama say there is change when the US continues to have virtual military bases in the Philippines and when Filipinos are treated as second-class citizens in their own country? How can we say there is change when a convicted American rapist is being kept by the US government outside the custody of the Philippine government?” Reyes asked. ###

 

 

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Nicole was sacrificed to protect VFA, US interests -- Bayan
News Release
March 18, 2008

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said that the recantation of Subic rape victim Nicole that she was raped by a US soldier was part of a grand design to preserve the VFA at all costs.

“Nicole was a sacrificial lamb to preserve US interests. Her recantation should be seen in the context of the US and Arroyo government’s efforts to preserve the VFA at all cost, even if this means acquitting Smith and totally discrediting the victim Nicole. It may have been a combination of pressure and hopelessness that made Nicole recant her earlier statement that she was raped.,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“That the recantation comes in the wake of Obama’s phone call to Arroyo, the firing of Nicole’s lawyer and news that Nicole is now in the US, we firmly believe that all along the Arroyo government was working for an acquittal of Smith. The two governments believe that declaring Smith innocent will make the custody issue moot and will weaken the case against the VFA,” Reyes added.

The custody issue involving convicted rapist Daniel Smith has been a take-off point for efforts questioning the validity of the VFA. Despite a Philippine Supreme Court ruling ordering the Philippine government to negotiate the transfer of Smith to Philippine authorities, both the US and Philippine government have chosen to uphold the status quo.

“The Arroyo regime’s puppetry knows no bounds. It will deny justice, twist the truth and discredit victims just so it could preserve a grossly one-sided agreement with the US. We should protest this shameless display of subservience to the US,” Reyes said.

“The latest incident involving Nicole further underscores the fatal flaws of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Under this grossly unequal pact, it would be almost impossible for victims to truly get swift justice. The protracted nature of the legal process, along with a subservient regime, discourages victims from pursuing their cases. We have only the US and Arroyo governments, and the VFA to blame for what has happened to Nicole,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that along with other advocates and critics of the VFA, it will push forward with the campaign to have the agreement abrogated.

“The anti-VFA campaign becomes more urgent now given that a Smith acquittal is in the works. The US and Arroyo government are threatened by the growing resistance to the VFA and they want to end this controversy as quickly as possible,” Reyes added.


Another protest action is set on March 21 to mark the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. The protest will be held along Roxas Boulevard, near the US embassy in Manila. Bayan has applied for a permit, the first time it has done so for such an activity, and hopes to get a favorable response from Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

“On March 21, we will join the rest of the world in calling for a complete reversal of Bush foreign policies. If Obama will pull out troops from Iraq, he should do the same for US troops in the Philippines. Obama must give up the VFA and end the Balikatan war games. Otherwise, he will be merely continuing the discredited policies of the hated George W. Bush,” Reyes said. ###

 

 

Philippine police guarding the US embassy
UP Faculty Regent Prof. Judy Taguiwalo ▲
 and Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan ▲and a Gabriela officer ▼ in front of the US embassy
     
     
           
     
     
           

News Release
March 19, 2009
Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:secgen@bayanusa.org
Please visit: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/


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 Questionable

“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 Arroyo governments' 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 http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/.

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. ###

 

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MMEDIATE RELEASE

20 March 2009

Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA-USA, National Coordinator (206) 859-7525, email gabrielawomen@gmail.com

Filipino-American Women Urge Obama to Revoke Support for Visiting Forces Agreement and Pledge to Prevent a Thousand “Nicoles”

United States--Filipino 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 Philippine custody.

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 San Francisco.

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 Francisco.

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: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/.

###
--

http://www.firenyc.org
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women's organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women's struggle in the Philippines. By bringing woman-born and woman-identified people together, we challenge pervading stereotypes and create self-defined Filipina identities. For more information, please visit http://www.firenyc.org .

We are a proud member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with babae in San Francisco and Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA.

FiRE is a member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about BAYAN, please visit http://bayanusa.org/

 

     
     
     

 

 

 

 

With the US embassy right in front of him BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes calls for the pullout of US troops from Iraq and the Philippines  and the junking of the VFA.

Rita Baua, vice chair of the ILPS - Philippine chapter
Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan (photo by Shaffle Rock)
KMU Chair Elmer Bong Labog

LFS chair Terry Ridon

           
Jom Salvador of Gabriela Noise barrage in front of the US embassy
           

 

NEWS RELEASE
21 March 2009
For Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General 0917-5003879
Public Information Officer:Francis Uyanguren 0929-4511305

US-RP VFA: BLUEPRINT FOR AGGRESSION AND ABUSE- Gabriela Women’s Party

“The US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement is the very blueprint of a warmonger that is the United States in the Philippines. The Arroyo administration is hell-bent in embracing this lopsided agreement, putting the lives of Filipino women and children in constant peril.”

This is the statement of Gabriela Women's Party Secretary General Cristina Palabay as partylist leaders and members joined today's march and protest at the US Embassy in Manila to commemorate the 6th anniversary of United States invasion of Iraq and calling for the termination of the US-RP VFA.

“The US invasion of Iraq and Arroyo’s continued implementation of the US-RP VFA have both caused immense violence and death of the women and people. They target the general population of countries and rape and abuse our women and children,” Palabay said.

According to Palabay, there are still countless unresolved cases of violence brought about by the presence of US troops in the country, including that of Nicole, the 22-year old Filipina who was allegedly raped by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith in Subic. This is the same thing that happened in Iraq, where justice remains elusive for the millions of victims of US aggression in Iraq.

“While the international community continues to condemn the unprecedented aggression of US in Iraq six years ago, we Filipinas decry the unbridled support of the Arroyo administration in these unjust wars and its puppetry in upholding unequal agreements that violate our sovereignty and our people,” Palabay concluded.
 
Gabriela Women's Party National Headquarters
118 Scout Rallos, Brgy. Sacred Heart,
Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9295342
Email: gabrielawomensparty @gmail.com
Website: www.gabrielawomensp arty.net

Office of Gabriela Rep. Liza Largoza Maza
Rm 309 South Wing Bldg.,
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9316268
Email: lizalmaza@yahoo. com

Office of Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan
Rm. 601 South Wing Bldg.
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9315586
E-mail: repluzilagan@ gmail.com

 

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News Release
17 March 2009

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-3221203

Gabriela Heightens Jail Smith, Junk VFA Calls

The militant women's group Gabriela expressed surprise over Nicole's termination of services of her legal counsel Atty. Evalyn Ursua but said the fight for the incarceration of L/Cpl. Daniel Smith and against the Visiting Forces Agreement should continue.

"This comes as a surprise especially since the fight against the VFA is gaining ground. Whatever reasons Nicole may have, we understand the difficulty and agony this case may have caused her. Nevertheless, we hope she remains courageous and strong to face the battle ahead," said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

According to De Jesus, GABRIELA will pursue the fight for justice for Nicole and for the abrogation of the VFA. "It is only right that a rapist like L/Cpl. Smith should be jailed. It is only right that a lopsided agreement that undermines Philippine sovereignty such as the VFA should be abrogated."

The women's group said that the recent call of US President Barrack Obama to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regarding the VFA is an indication that the United States government is feeling the pressure of the growing clamor for the agreement's abrogation.

"Justice can only be served by jailing Smith in Bilibid AND terminating the VFA. Anything less than that will not be amenable to the Filipino people," said De Jesus.

"The US and Philippine governments' utmost interest, at this point, is to salvage the VFA but they will have to contend with patriotic Filipinos who are resolute in putting an end to unequal relations with the US," concluded de Jesus.

GABRIELA today joined other organizations and individuals to initiate the forming of the Junk VFA Movement, a campaign network against the VFA. ###

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News Release
March 17, 2009

Gabriela Solon Joins Junk VFA Movement Launching, Hits Malacañang’s Compromise Pact

“Malacañang’s pact with the US government reeks of renewed subservience, docility and sell-out to US interests by its so called ‘compromise pact’ on the custody of Daniel smith. As long as the US-RP VFA is in force, the compromise of our rights as a sovereign nation is wont to be duplicated over and over again”.

Thus said Assistant Minority leader and Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Liza Maza today as she joined the Junk VFA Movement launching together with other progressive legislators and people's organizations who have raised their strongest opposition against the lopsided US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement.

“The Obama-GMA agreement on the continued enforcement of the US-RP VFA is an affirmation of the the US war on terror policy and the perpetuation of unequal agreements between the US and the Philippines,” Maza said.

According to the Gabriela solon, the Junk VFA Movement is geared for the following activities:

· Rally on March21 to commemorate the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and to call on the US government to pull out troops in Iraq and the Philippines, and call for a real departure from the Bush policy .
· Preparation for the activities on the 10th anniversary of the VFA ratification on May 27, 2009
· Signature campaign for the Anti-VFA unity statement
· Continued vigilance and close monitor on the Court of Appeal's upcoming decision on Smith's appeal and Supreme Court decision should it decide to reverse itself on the custody issue or continue to uphold the one-sided VFA

Maza further encouraged the people to join the mounting protests calling for the immediate abrogation of the US-RP VFA and expressed her conviction that such an onerous treaty will have the same route as the abrogated US Bases in 1991

 

 

     
     
▼March to the US Embassy▼
     
     
           

 

HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 1019
Introduced by Representatives SATUR C. OCAMPO, TEODORO A. CASIÑO, LIZA L. MAZA , RAFAEL V. MARIANO and LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN

RESOLUTION

CALLING FOR THE TERMINATION OF THE RP-US VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT

BECAUSE IT TRAMPLES ON PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY, IT IS AN UNEQUAL AGREEMENT CONSIDERING THE CONTINUED REFUSAL OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO SURRENDER CUSTODY OF CPL. DANIEL SMITH, AND IT IS UNENFORCEABLE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

WHEREAS, House Resolution 458 calling for the abrogation of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement was filed in the House of Representatives on February 12, 2008;

WHEREAS, supervening events have made the immediate termination of the VFA MORE URGENT;

WHEREAS, the VFA provisions on the custody of the accused, waiver of jurisdiction, and other unequal impositions stand as the biggest stumbling block to the right of the victims to seek justice and ultimately lead to the loss of Philippine right to prosecute the offenders, which is an affront to our sovereign power to enforce our laws within our territory;

WHEREAS, the counterpart VFA II regulating entry of Filipino soldiers in the US does not contain similar provisions as to waiver of jurisdiction or custody – a clear sign of the onerous imposition on the Philippines by the US government which refuses to incur the same obligations they impose on the Philippines;

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled in Medellin vs. Texas that non self-executing treaties like the VFA cannot be enforced in the US without an implementing legislation;

WHEREAS, the VFA is not duly concurred in by the U.S. Senate and there is no U.S. legislation implementing the VFA, which means that the US Government has no treaty obligations to enforce the VFA in the United States, thus it violates the requirement under the 1987 Constitution that treaties allowing the entry of foreign troops, bases and facilities must be recognized as a treaty by the other contracting party;

WHEREAS, the US government continues to refuse to surrender Cpl. Smith to the Philippine government despite the Supreme Court decision declaring as void the Kenney-Romulo Agreement, which was the basis for his transfer to the US Embassy, for violating the VFA itself;

WHEREAS, the VFA provides under Art. IX that parties to the agreement have the right to terminate the VFA at any time after meeting the 180-day requirement of sending a written notice of expiration to the other party;

WHEREAS, in the ten years that the VFA has been in place, the patently one-sided character of the agreement in favor of the US is working against the country’s national interest. The series of RP-US military exercises practically establishes the permanent presence of US troops in the country who apparently engage in direct combat operations and who remain under US jurisdiction despite offenses committed on Philippine soil;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the House of Representatives call for the IMMEDIATE TERMINATION of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

Adopted,

SATUR C. OCAMPO TEODORO A. CASIÑO LIZA L. MAZA
BAYAN MUNA Party-List BAYAN MUNA Party-List Gabriela Women’s Party
RAFAEL V. MARIANO LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN
Anakpawis Party-List Gabriela Women’s Party

 

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News Release
03 March 2009

Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-3221203

ANTI-VFA SENATORS LIGHT CANDLES WITH WOMEN
FOR JUSTICE AND SOVEREIGNTY

Legislators against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) joined the militant women's group GABRIELA in a symbolic action in front of the Senate this evening. Among those who joined were Senators Francis Pangilinan, Loren Legarda and Jamby Madrigal.

"The senate resolution calling for the abrogation of the VFA is a beacon of hope for women and the rest of the Filipino people in our continuing struggle against US military intervention," said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

The women's group said that the Senate Resolution 892 mirrors the snowballing demand of Filipino women to scrap VFA especially as the United States government's continues to "coddle rapists of Filipinas."

"The United States government has repeatedly shown their disrespect to the Filipino people. L/Cpl. Daniel Smith is comfortably accommodated inside the US Embassy while Army Spcl. Ronald Hopstock was given a mere slap on the wrist; this after these soldiers ravaged Filipinas," said de Jesus.

Smith is the US soldier found guilty of raping a 21-year old Filipina in Subic in 2005 while Hopstock was the US soldier based in Okinawa, Japan accused of raping 21-year old Hazel in Okinawa February last year.

Last February 11, the Supreme Court ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs to renegotiate with the US government to transfer Smith's detention to Philippine authorities. The inaction on the SC order of both the US and Philippine governments spurred several senators to call for the abrogation of the VFA.

"We are pleased that in the people's fight against VFA, we have found allies among justices in the Supreme Court and legislators in Congress and Senate. It is a shame that the one obstacle in the people's fight for justice and sovereignty is the woman president obstinately
ensconced in Malacañang," added de Jesus.

Tomorrow, March 4, the women's group said they will troop to Mendiola to condemn Malacañang's continued support for VFA. ###

 

     
     
     
     
     
           
           
    Photos by SR of CONTEND-UP    
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MMEDIATE RELEASE
20 March 2009

Reference: Joanne Alcantara, GABRIELA-USA, National Coordinator (206) 859-7525, email gabrielawomen@gmail.com

Filipino-American Women Urge Obama to Revoke Support for Visiting Forces Agreement and Pledge to Prevent a Thousand “Nicoles”
 

United States--Filipino 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 Philippine custody.

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 San Francisco.

 

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 Francisco.
 

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: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/.
###

 

           
           
Photos by SR of CONTEND-UP
           
     

News Release
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 organizations.

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. #
 

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News Release
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. ###
 

 

 

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MEDIA STATEMENT
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 agreement's abrogation.

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!

GABRIELA Philippines
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 people.

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News Release
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.

 

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
           

 

Arroyo's preferential 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 unrepentant criminals."

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 crime."

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.


REFERENCE:

Ruth Cervantes
Public Information Officer +639189790580

KARAPATAN
 

     
     
           
           

News Release
March 19, 2009

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email:secgen@bayanusa.org
Please visit: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/



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 Questionable

“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 http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/.

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. ###

 

     
     
     
           
           

 

BICOLANA-GABRIELA
Purok 2, Bagumbayan Daraga Albay
Tel. No. 483-46-24
__________________________________________________________________________

PAHAYAG SA MIDYA

Sanggunian:
March 18, 2009
Jenelyn A. Nagrampa
Secretary General

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 ating bansa.

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.

VFA IBASURA!

US TROOPS OUT NOW!

BALIKATAN SA BIKOL TUTULAN, LABANAN!
 

     
     
           
           

 

GABRIELA Network
P.O. Box 403 Time Square Station
New York, New York 10066
e-mail: gabnet@gabnet.org
website: www.gabnet.org

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE NICOLE/VFA CASE FOR AMERICANS OF PHILIPPINE ANCESTRY, FILIPINAS & WOMEN IN GENERAL

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 the Philippines.

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 violence.

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 Iraq.

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.

Respectfully yours,

Annalisa Enrile (interim Chair) Candace Custodio (Chair-elect)

Jollene G. Levid (Secretary-General)

GABRIELA NETWORK OF THE MARIPOSA ALLIANCE
GABRIELA Network
P.O. Box 403 Time Square Station
New York, New York 10066
e-mail: gabnet@gabnet.org
website: www.gabnet.org
Page 3 of 3
Endorsers:
Name Organization E-mail
 

     
     
           
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
March 19, 2009
REFERENCE:
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 statement.

"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 magbubukid. org/

 

 

     
           
           

League of Filipino Students
Mobile Number: 09158513904
Website: LFS.ph
_______________________________

PRESS RELEASE
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 the VFA.

"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 said.

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.

Reference:

Ron Villegas, LFS Vice Chairperson and Information Officer, 09239130516, ronvil@gmail.com
Terry Ridon, LFS Spokesperson, 09158513904, teridon18@gmail.com

--
"the development of each is the development of all."
teridon.blospot.com

 

     
           
     

 

Here's something that a UP law student, Rob Ty, wrote on the Nicole recantation. (He was from the U.P.Paralegal Volunteers' Organization. )
http://robty.multiply.com/journal/item/612/Nicole_did_not_fail_us._The_justice_system_did

 

Nicole did not fail us. The justice system did.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan's words, not mine. But I completely agree with him.

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 the politics.
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 Supreme Court.
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.
Why?
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 amicable settlement.
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 her.
Not one bit.

 

     
           
           

 

Privilege Speech
 

Topic: Visiting Forces Agreement and Question of Custody of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and Our National Sovereignty

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 Philippine bureaucracy.

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 it.

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 executory”

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 base.

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 stopped.

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 children.

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 women.

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 Agreement.

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 songs
           

 

  Securing VFA behind US, Arroyo governments' snatching of justice from Nicole

 

  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 Interests

 

Kenneth Roland A. Guda

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.

 

  Kahit manghina ang isa, magpapatuloy ang laksa-laksa

Isinuko na ni Nicole ang sariling laban. Panahon na para ipagpatuloy nating kapwa niya biktima ang laban ng bayan.

 

 

Anti VFA songs

 

Minatamis na Candy by VFa

Paalam Uncle Sam

GI Joe by Anak ni Aling Juana

 

 

 

           
BONUS TRACKS
           

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.

     
**          

 

 
 

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