Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The legacy of US military bases

By Fr. Shay Cullen
Manila Times

THE Philippine media have been prominently covering the plight of a 22-year-old college graduate who has accused six US Marines of raping her on November 1 in a van inside the former US naval base at Subic Bay Olongapo City. There are, however, hundreds of Filipino women and children who are raped and sexually assaulted in the Philippines weekly, but they don’t get that kind of attention. Many have complained but their cases have been dismissed arbitrarily for “lack of evidence.” How unfair.
The special attention given the case of the woman who has accused six US Marines of gang rape stems from the legacy of the US bases here and the love-hate relationship between the US and the Philippines. That sad legacy is worth revisiting, because it is being blamed, rightly or wrongly, for the rampant sex tourism and trafficking of women and children in the country, which shame Filipinos and decent people everywhere. That no suspect in the sex-tourism trade has been prosecuted puts the Philippines on the lower tier of the US State department’s watch list of erring nations.
In all fairness, we must note that the US military has officially adopted a zero tolerance and strict prosecution toward servicemen who molest women. Still, the measures failed to deter the Subic Six, as I call them.
On November 23 the preliminary investigation of the alleged rape took place between the lawyers for the accused and the defense and the Olongapo prosecutor. The media filled the hearing room. Neither the complainant nor the six accused showed up, and a new hearing was set for November 29.
Ironically, the preliminary investigation of the Subic Six took place a day after the 13th anniversary of the departure of the last US Marine ship, the Belleau Wood, from Subic Bay on November 22, 1992. The Subic Bay naval base, along with the sex industry that had serviced the sailor for almost a hundred years, shut down. Mayor Richard Gordon (now a senator) stood on the wharf, waved good-bye and wept as Olongapo city faced economic collapse.
That historical event, which I witnessed, marked the end of a spectacularly successful 10-year campaign begun in 1982 by the Preda Charity and other organizations to end the exploitation of women and children.
This was spurred by the shocking revelations by dedicated US Navy investigators, and reported to the city officials, that children, as young as four years old, were trafficked for sexual abuse and prostitution.
The identified pimps and traffickers were never prosecuted.
Olongapo City officials denied any wrongdoing, claiming the reports were isolated incidents and exaggerated. However, the Navy records, optioned through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed grave systematic child abuse.
The alleged tolerance and silence, let alone easy access to a financial settlement, allowed a climate of impunity to grow and embolden both US servicemen and Filipino would-be abusers to sexually assault women and children. Today, private financial arrangements negotiated by police and barangay officials are common.
The campaign to remove the bases was started when thousands of throwaway Filipino-American children were left in poverty. Countless aborted babies, a drug culture and a spreading pandemic of HIV-AIDS are what Filipinos remember most (about the presence of US bases here).
I made the unthinkable proposal that all the bases in the Philippines be closed and converted to economic zones to provide work with dignity and sustainability for the Filipino people.
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo, and the common-sense of the Filipino people, doomed Clark and closed Subic Bay. Working together with many organizations, patriotic senators and church people, that goal was achieved in 1992, ending the era of US Military occupation. The economic zones are now a reality, but so is a revived sex industry, thanks to gutless and greedy politicians.
The Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US was passed some years later, allowing US troops and ships to return for training and exercises; once again, we have sex-starved sailors roaming about, looking for women and, in some cases such as the Subic Six, trouble


Post a Comment

<< Home


This is a joint private blog of volunteers from Subic Bay. It is being maintained primarily to collate articles that may be of importance to decision making related to the future of Subic Bay and as a source of reference material to construct the history of Subic Bay.

The articles herein posted remains the sole property of original authors and publications which has full credits to the articles.

Disclaimer: Readers should conduct their own research and due diligence before using any article herein posted for whatever intended purpose it may be. This private web log will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a reader's reliance on information obtained from volunteers of this private blog.

www.subicbay.ph, http://olongapo-subic.com, http://sangunian.com, http://olongapo-ph.com, http://oictv.com, http://brgy-ph.com, http://subicbay-news.com, http://batanggapo.com 16 January 2012