Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rape case to go ahead–Romulo

By Jonathan Vicente, Manila Times Reporter

The case against the four United States Marines charged with raping a Filipina will continue despite the impending abolition of the commission overseeing the Visiting Forces Agreement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said Friday.

Romulo said the rape is an extraordinary criminal case and is not connected with the proposed abolition of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement.

At a Senate hearing on the budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Romulo said President Arroyo issued an order to scrap the commission because it failed to assert the country’s interests in the case.

The commission is headed by Executive Director Zosimo Paredes. The VFA has become a contentious issue because the US has refused to turn over the four Marines to Philippine authorities. Under the agreement, the Philippines can ask for custody of any US servicemen facing charges in local courts.

The abrogation of the VFA was the cry of the left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pama­lakaya).

In a statement the group also called for the disbarment of Olongapo City Judge Renato Dilag, who is hearing the case.

The leaders of Pamalakaya urged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to disbar Dilag, who on Thursday recalled the warrants for the arrest of Staff Sgt. Chad Brian Carpentier, Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis.

The four are charged with raping a 22-year-old Filipina inside the Subic Bay Freeport on All Saints’ Day.

Calling Dilag a modern-day Judas and a traitor to national sovereignty and public interest, Pamalakaya said the IBP should disown him for paving the way of the “walk-in-the-park” escape of the four Marines.

Dilag “does not deserve the respect of any decent thinking people in this country,” Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap said in the statement.

He said Dilag could also be held liable for violating the rule of law, the jurisprudence on criminal law, the revised code, the antigraft law and the Constitution for recalling a legitimate and sovereign act against the four US Marines implicated in the rape case.

Carpentier, Smith, Silkwood and Duplantis, who have denied the rape, have been in US custody since November 2. They took part in the VFA-sanctioned joint exercises between the US and Philippine soldiers


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