Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Innove ends local telco’s 10-year-old hold on Subic


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE -- The recent entry here of Globe Telecom Inc. and its subsidiary, Innove Communications Inc., ended the decade-long hold of Subic Telecommunications Co. Inc. (SubicTel) at the free port.

The National Telecommunications Commission gave Innove a franchise to operate nationwide last year and the firm has since been expanding its network throughout the country, including Subic.

On Feb. 17 this year, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SMBA) gave Innove provisional authority to operate a local exchange telephone service and international and domestic leased line services in Subic.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said Innove committed the sixth-largest investment in Subic in the first half of 2006, at $6.3 million.

Central Luzon mission to woo US investors

By Ronnel Domingo -- Inquirer

A TEAM of local government officials from the Central Luzon region, north of Manila, is in California on a mission to drum up investment opportunities for American companies, especially in information technology-enabled services.

The weeklong sortie started Sept. 26 and will wrap up on Oct. 4.

Mission head Tomas Joson III, governor of Nueva Ecija province, said in a Sept. 19 letter to Trade and Industry Undersecretary Elmer Hernandez that the Central Luzon Investment Coordinating Council (CLIC) would meet with executives of various US firms.

The CLIC team also includes Governor Josefina de la Cruz of Bulacan province, Govenor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo of Aurora province, and representatives of the provinces of Zambales and Pampanga.

Joson said the team hoped to get insights on what American businessmen were looking for and issues that concern them.

The team also wanted to exchange ideas on how the Philippines and Central Luzon could be promoted to foreign investors.

He added that Central Luzon provinces were taking part in the 21st Philippine-American Exposition Home Show and Auto Show in Los Angeles.

Joson said CLIC had been actively promoting the region through roadshows and promotions, with the last mission sent to Hong Kong earlier this year.

He added that the Anhui Investment Mission in Hong Kong led to a visit to Clark in Pampanga of a delegation at least 300 Chinese businessmen, who also went around Central Luzon to scout for business opportunities.

Central Luzon hosts the Subic Bay Freeport as well as the Clarkfield and Poro Point investment areas, all of which were former military facilities converted into business enclaves.

A new expressway linking Clark and Subic is under construction.

The tollway is planned to extend all the way to Tarlac in the northwest and to Dingalan, Aurora in the east.

Last July, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced in her State of the Nation Address the creation of “super regions,” including a “Metro Luzon urban beltway” encompassing Metro Manila and Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions.

The other super regions are the North Luzon agribusiness quadrangle; Central Philippines covering most of the islands between Luzon and Mindanao; Mindanao and the cybercorridor that covers pockets of areas equipped with information and communication technology infrastructure.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Bolante claim ‘a snow job’ -- Magsaysay

By TJ Burgonio -- Inquirer

SEN. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. yesterday dismissed Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante’s claim he was detained by US authorities to gain the release of four Americans accused in a rape case in the Philippines, calling it a “desperate” attempt to win his immigration case.

“He’s doing a snow job,” Magsaysay said. He theorized that the former agriculture undersecretary had adopted the tack to muddle his involvement in the alleged use of P728 million in fertilizer funds in the 2004 election of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Magsaysay said Bolante’s case in a Wisconsin court was “exclusively separate” from the trial in a Makati City court of four US Marines accused of raping a 23-year-old Filipino woman at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone last year.

“These two cases should not be put together through speculation and faulty strategy. The issue at hand is corruption,” he said.

“Pure speculation is a sign of desperation. This is a last-ditch attempt to help win his case by putting in all these strenuous issues. He’s doing this to gain leverage. It’s a sign of desperation.”

Bolante, who has been held in the United States since July after his visa was cancelled, had alleged in a motion he filed with the Wisconsin district court that he was being used as a pawn by the US government to gain the release of the Marines.

To support his claim, Bolante submitted a copy of the Sept. 16 Inquirer report on the claim of the victim’s mother that the head of the government prosecution panel had broached the idea of a settlement -- Bolante in exchange for the four US Marines.

Bolante has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He named US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as respondents.

Magsaysay is chair of the Senate agriculture committee that inquired into the alleged mismanagement of the P728-million fertilizer fund in the run-up to the 2004 presidential elections. The panel recommended the filing of charges against Bolante for allegedly masterminding the scam.

Large-scale corruption

“His case will rise or fall on how the federal government looks at his alleged involvement in large-scale corruption,” Magsaysay said, pointing out that Bolante’s case was proof of the US government’s seriousness about enforcing its policy of denying safe haven to corrupt officials.

“This concerns not only the Philippines, but other countries as well. That’s why the US has been tough in its no-safe haven policy.”

The senator voiced the hope the voluminous documents he had submitted to the embassy, including his committee’s report, would be seriously considered by the US court.

Also yesterday, Roque said he would challenge the decision of US Judge George Katsivalis on Sept. 13 to hold closed-door hearings on the Bolante case in Wisconsin.

Roque said the US Supreme Court had ruled that immigration proceedings must be open to the public.

“To dispel suspicion that the two governments are cooking up something in this case, the hearings should be held in public,” said Roque.

Roque a hired gun?

Representatives Benasing Macarambon of Lanao del Sur province and Edwin Uy of Isabela province, in a joint press statement, slammed Roque as an opposition “hired gun out to exploit” the Bolante case for political purposes.

Roque has been releasing details of the Bolante case in Wisconsin to reporters in Manila.

“The Philippine government will not compromise its justice system even for the sake of its diplomatic relations,” the lawmakers said. With reports from Juliet Labog-Javellana and Philip

Subic Bay offers variety of choices

People have different wants when on vacation. Some may prefer the excitement of water sports, others may opt for shopping and partying, while some may choose to commune with nature. It’s tough to enjoy these things in one place, unless of course your destination is Subic in Olongapo, which offers visitors a vacation that is both fun and complete.

Olongapo Vice Mayor Rolen Paulino said Subic has everything for vacationers to enjoy. "Subic offers complete and world-class facilities, exotic dive sites, well-maintained nature trails, exciting theme parks, glitzy hotels, fancy restaurants and bustling shopping centers, to make your stay very memorable and complete," he said.

Benny Triguero, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) tourism department manager said Subic is very accessible. It is merely 110 km north of Manila and has first-class airport and seaport. With low crime rate, Triguero said vacationers can enjoy their stay in Subic in utmost safety.

Paulino said that given the proper sports marketing, Subic is also poised to become the Asian sports hub with its excellent sports facilities. This has allowed Subic to host a number of prestigious sporting events, which include last year’s Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Kayak Competition and the recent Subic elimination leg of the 30th National MILO Marathon, which was graced by Sen. Pia Cayetano, SBMA chair Phil Salonga, SBMA administrator Arman Arezza, SBMA deputy administrator Ferdie Hernandez, and Olongapo mayor James Gordon.

Paulino said the National Milo Marathon plays a significant role in the development of Subic’s youth. He enthuses that leading an active lifestyle helps children with their health and they learn character-forming values to aid them in life. "When you expose kids early in sports, this can in fact be good for the government because they are taught about discipline and how to behave during triumph or defeat," said Paulino, who admits that sports helped him become who he is today.

It’s no wonder that the National Milo Marathon continues to attract thousands of participants. During the Subic race, more than 11,000 participants consisting of running enthusiasts, students and family members took part in the races, making the event a top draw for everyone— tourists included.
By RONNIEL C. DE GUZMAN - Manila Bulletin

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bolante: US using me as pawn to free 4 US Marines

\By Philip Tubeza -- Inquirer

FORMER Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante has accused the US government of using him as a “pawn” to secure the release of four American Marines accused of raping a 23-year-old Filipino woman at the Subic Bay Freeport last year.

To support his contention, Bolante submitted to the Wisconsin district court hearing his habeas corpus petition a copy of an Inquirer report on Sept. 16 on a claim by the alleged rape victim’s mother that the head of the prosecution team had proposed a settlement with the accused Marines.

“Counsels for petitioner have discovered additional information demonstrating that Bolante is likely being used as a political pawn in exchange for the release of certain American citizens held to account for an alleged rape in the Philippines,” Bolante said in a two-page motion dated Sept. 25.

“Bolante seeks to file news articles demonstrating the use of Bolante as a political weapon to further demonstrate that the conflicting reasons provided to Bolante (for the cancellation of his US visa) can only be a pretense and that the visa was improperly revoked,” it added.

The news articles referred to the Inquirer story and another report in the Chinese People’s Daily about the rape case.

Bolante was arrested on July 7 on his arrival in Los Angeles. He was told that his B1/B2 visa had been canceled by the US Embassy in Manila due to an arrest warrant issued by the Philippine Senate after he snubbed its hearings on the alleged P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

The money was said to have been used in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s election in 2004.

Lawyer H. Harry Roque Jr., who distributed copies of Bolante’s motion in a press conference yesterday, said that Bolante’s allegation could not be dismissed lightly since it was formally filed with a federal court.

“We cannot simply dismiss what they said (in the motion) because of the dire consequences for Bolante and his lawyers. They could face contempt or disbarment,” Roque said.

“It is noteworthy because, for the first time, the allegation that there was a deal between the two governments about this case of Nicole and that of Bolante became part of judicial record,” he said.

Roque pointed out that the motion came with a “certification from counsel” that their allegations were “true to their belief and knowledge.”

“This is a gamble on the part of the lawyers of Joc-joc Bolante. If (US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice and the other high-ranking American officials get angry and they move that Bolante and his lawyers be cited for contempt, that could possibly happen,” Roque said.

Bolante named Rice, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as respondents in his habeas corpus petition.

Basis for contempt

“He’s saying that they connived to use his case to free the four soldiers. That by itself, if Condoleezza Rice and the others want it, could be a basis for both contempt and disbarment if it were proven that there was no such deal,” Roque said.

To dispel all doubts, the US Embassy in Manila should intervene in Bolante’s immigration case and have him brought back to the Philippines immediately, he said.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and US Legal Attaché Jeffrey Cole should also “make representations” with the Chicago immigration court hearing Bolante’s case to keep its proceedings open to the public, he added.

Roque said that the Chicago court ordered closed-door proceedings after the alleged rape victim’s mother revealed the reported offer by the prosecution team leader.

He said he was bothered by the court order. He said he was asking Kenney and Cole “to make representations to open the proceedings anew to the public because of suspicions that there is a deal in this case.”

Roque said Bolante should be returned to the country now.

Time to return

“The time for due process is already up. Mr. Bolante has been detained there for quite some time now but up to today he has no valid defense on why he entered the US without a valid visa,” Roque said.

He said Bolante could not claim that the cancellation of his visa was illegal since he was given advance notice about the US Embassy’s plan to scrap it.

Roque also said he was ready to support Bolante’s asylum application if Bolante agreed to tell the truth behind the alleged fertilizer fund scam.

He said he would go to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Bolante is detained, after Bolante’s next immigration hearing to try to get his deposition.

Ground for impeachment

“If he tells the truth, of course that would endanger his life and so we would be ready to support his petition for asylum. If he reveals who ordered him on the fertilizer scam, he would really have (a credible fear of) persecution here in the Philippines,” Roque said.

He explained that the fertilizer fund scam was the “only documented case of culpable violation of Constitution, graft and corruption, and betrayal of public trust” -- all impeachable offenses that could be brought up against Ms Arroyo next year.

Roque said the Commission on Audit had said that of the P728 million worth of fertilizers, half were ghost deliveries. The remaining 50 percent were overpriced by 1,000 percent, mixed with water, fertilizers for orchids, and delivered during harvest season,” Roque said.

Arroyo Inspects Asia's Biggest Shipbuilding Facility in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inspected Wednesday the ongoing construction in Subic Bay, Zambales - the biggest shipbuilding facility in Asia that is expected to contribute considerably to the local economy, apart from providing thousands of jobs to Filipino workers.

The President arrived at 10 a.m. and inspected the construction works at the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Company (HHIC) (KSE:003480) shipyard located in Agusuhin, Redondo Peninsula, some 45 minutes by ferry from the Subic Bay Freeport.

Among those who welcomed the President were HHIC chairman Cho Nam Ho, HHIC president Jeong Sup Shim, Zambales Governor Vic Magsaysay, Bataan Governor Enrique Garcia, Pampanga Governor Mark Lapid, Olongapo City Mayor James Gordon Jr., Subic Mayor Jeffrey Khonghun, and Korean Ambassador Jong Ki Hong.

With the President were Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor, and Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Chief Arthur Yap.

South Korea's HHIC, one of the world's largest shipbuilders, signed last March a US$1 billion lease agreement with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) for the construction of a 480 hectare shipyard at the Redondo Peninsula.

The President said Hanjin is the biggest investor in the country in the first quarter of this year, putting in some US$250 million of their US$1 billion total investment upon completion of their world-class facility by 2011. ADVERTISEMENT

"Construction is in full swing as we can see, a sure marker of both growing trust and confidence in the Philippine economy. I am totally focused on the economy because only a strong economy will lift our people out of poverty," the President said.

To further improve the prevailing conducive atmosphere in the Subic Bay Freeport, the President said government would continue its anti-graft campaign to reduce red tape which is indispensable to a strong and competitive economy.

"We are doing our best to create the most conducive and profitable environment for our investors. We expect more world-class companies like Hanjin to come and use the growing possibilities in our country to give more jobs to the great Filipino worker," she added.

President Arroyo noted that Hanjin has filled up 2,400 jobs for Filipino workers such as engineers, welders, pipe fitters, foremen and crane operators and is expected to generate up to 30,000 direct and indirect employment when it becomes fully operational.

She said Hanjin has pre-orders of 12 container ships costing US$60 million each and will begin producing in March next year.

The President said the facility has an annual projected production of 60 ships or five ships per month that would translate to some US$1 billion in exports per year.

"Subic is bound to become one of the four largest shipbuilding facilities in the world," she stressed.

To make the Freeport more conducive to investments, the President said complementing the Hanjin project is the P6.9 billion (US$137.5 million) Subic Bay Port Development Project and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway project that would both be finished by next year.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Defense rests case

prosecution offers US NCIS agent's testimony during Oct. 5 hearing

The defense in the rape case filed by a Filipino woman against four American servicemen rested its case Monday afternoon, following the testimony of medico-legal expert, Dr. Teresita Sanchez, who said she did not think Nicole was raped on Nov. 1, 2005.

The defense presented just four witnesses­accused L/Cpl Daniel Smith, Dominic Duplantis, Keith Silkwood and S/Sgt. Chad Brian Carpenter, Nicole's former friend, Justin Michael Hamberger, and Sanchez in the course of the trial that began June 2nd.

Smith has been tagged as the prime suspect in the gang rape case, with the three others said to have cheered Smith on as the alleged crime was being committed in a moving van at the Subic Bay in Olongapo City.

The four agreed that it was consensual sex between the woman and Smith, and they did not interfere with the lovemaking inside the van because "it was not their business."

Aside from principal witness, Nicole, prosecution presented 22 witnesses, including businessman Joseph Khongkun who claimed to have seen Nicole dumped out of the van onto a roadside close to the USS Essex, the servicemen's ship docked at the Subic pier.

The defense was given until Friday this week to present its formal offer of evidence to Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court, while prosecution must rebut this next week.

When the court hearing resumes October 5, prosecution said it will bring in American Guy Papageorge, a special agent of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), and his assistant, Filipino Antonio Ramos, a NCIS resident agent.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 3, or two nights after the alleged incident, Papageorge went up the USS Essex, and investigated the accused. The four were on liberty from a joint military exercises with Filipino counterparts in the Subic area.

Except for Smith, the three marines signed and appeared to have agreed with Papageorge's report and waived their rights under military courts.

The names of two more marines, Albert Lara and Corey Burris, were originally mentioned in the investigations, but they were later cleared since they were not in the van at the time of the incident. Fortunately, both also had time to seek legal counsel before any more investigations followed, the defense counsel said.

On cross-questioning Monday, Sanchez reiterated that the absence of contusions on the inner thighs of contusion-prone Nicole, did not point to rape. She pointed out that, on the other hand, the accuser had contusions on her arms.

In an ensuing conversation with the Philippines News Agency, Sanchez said that "it is my impression…my honest opinion that she was not raped."

Sanchez, also an obstetrician-gynecologist, said the medico-legal report on Nicole indicated she is contusion- prone that is why she easily has contusions even with just a slight grabbing of her arms.

She repeatedly told prosecutor Hazel Valdez, who claims that Nicole was too drunk to resist the sexual assault of Smith, that even in a "stuporous" state, a "dead drunk" woman could still offer resistance when there is stimulus.

Emelie Delos Santos, chief of the government panel prosecuting the Americans, meanwhile, said that the four accused gave conflicting statements against each other during their earlier appearances. But defense lawyer Jose Justiniano said "it merely shows they were speaking naturally and there was no rehearsed testimony…what is most important is that they were all united in saying it was consensual sex." (PNA)

The new owner of the high-end membership store chain PriceSmart, the one patterned after Price Club and Costco in the United States, is also the group that owns another store chain called Pure Gold.

The main figure behind Pure Gold of course is Lucio Co, who in the early 1990s started the retail chain as duty-free stores in the former US bases Subic and Clark.

In acquiring PriceSmart, however, Pure Gold must be trying to ride on its phenomenal success in Metro Manila, where it opened at least 10 huge stores in the past few years, catering mostly to the middle market, choosing to carry "imported" but still affordable items.

Now, why did William Go, who owned PriceSmart, choose to sell to Pure Gold?

Actually, first to go to the negotiating table with William Go was the SM group of mall operator Henry Sy. The deal between William Go and the Sy family fell through.

Lucio Co beat the SM group to the deal because he gave William Go a much better offer. I heard that it was all a matter of "pricing."

As for the existing members of PriceSmart, which seemed to have run out of good merchandise, Pure Gold can surely bring in a wider selection of imported goods. Lucio Co certainly has established a track record in Pure Gold.
By Conrado R. Banal III --- Inquirer

Monday, September 25, 2006


Senator Richard J. Gordon
Privilaged Speech
25 September 2006

Mr. President, good afternoon. Last, Friday, I saw an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer where the Philippine National Police issued a statement that they policemen can no longer make any arrests in behalf of the Senate without first clearing it with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group or the local PNP units concerned.

I stand before you today on a matter of personal and collective privilege to express my deep outrage for this arrogance of the police force towards a co-equal branch of government who is being told by the PNP that "you cannot give our people any orders anymore unless you clear it with us."

Section 6 of Article XVI, the General Provisions of the Philippine Constitution clearly states that:

"The State shall establish and maintain one police force, which shall be national in scope and civilian in character, to be administered and controlled by a national police commission. The authority of local executives over the police units in their jurisdiction shall be provided by law."

Given that we have a single, national police force, the PNP is responsible for enforcing any and all lawful Warrants of Arrest issued by a judicial tribunal and Arrest Orders issued by legislative tribunals, for these have the same weight as co-equal branches of government.

In fact, it is the duty of any officer, having knowledge that such Warrants of Arrest or Arrest Order are issued for particular persons to look for this people and arrest them. In the case of the Arrest Orders issued by the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises for PCGG Commissioners, they failed to do so. It was the Sgt.-at-Arms of the Senate who made the rest and the police officers were only there to assist and backstop them in case of trouble. And what did these officers get for performing their duty, they were called to PNP Headquarters to explain themselves.

When the Marines were in charge of securing the Senate, they went as far as Cotabato to enforce Arrest Orders issued by the Senate, while our current PNP cannot even enforce arrests to be made here in Manila.

We have a breakdown in peace and order in this country. Mr. President. Our judges and journalists, government officials, private citizens and militants are all getting assassinated and their cases remain unresolved.

This representation has delivered several privilege speeches calling for justice for judges and journalists who have been assassinated, which cases remain unsolved to this day. I have spoken in behalf of private citizens, respected members of the community, who have come to me to seek justice for the violation of their homes and the wanton murder of their kin in their very own homes, which also remain unresolved to this day.

In the meantime, they shoot at each other and sell drugs from their own evidence room, but they remain at their posts.

Jueteng continues to proliferate. Celebrated cases like those of Nida Blanca remain unresolved. They cannot find the killer of one their own, Police Chief Inspector Manolo Martinez who was killed last October 14, 2004, and was a subject of a privilege speech by Senator Lim.

And this National Police Force is the same police force that would like the Senate to come to them and say "Your majesty, will you please arrest these people."

If the duly elected Senate has to say please to our PNP, what chance does an ordinary citizen have to expect that those wrong them will be arrested?

Mr. President, I demand to see a report of the batting average of the PNP is arresting people for whom warrants of arrest have been issued.

I ask, Mr. President, why is it that the policemen who assisted in enforcing the law have been relieved from duty, while those who have failed to arrest those responsible for the deaths of dozens of journalists, judges, police and military officers, civic leaders, and crimes against the ordinary powerless citizen of this Republic, remain?

The Senate is currently drafting the Anti-terrorism Bill. We are at risk here. The officers under the Special Action Force SAF have special training which the current detachment assigned as their replacement does not have, which is tantamount to attempt to reduce the security of the Senate.

Murders, kidnappings, robberies and rapes happen in broad daylight. In the face of these crimes, where are our police officers? Are they being called to account? Where are the arrests, Mr. President, where are the suspects? Or are our police officers they following the chain of command in precisely allowing crimes to go unpunished, to create this sense of fear and chaos among our people, to allow the cabal of a few to assume the mantle of martial rule?

While the police officers assigned to investigate and solve these cases remain at their posts, those who have been tasked to guard the premises of this Senate have been changed. What is the rationale behind this act? Was it because the officers of the Special Action Force could not be trusted by those in power to do their duty to the chain of command, rather than their duty to the Constitution and the people?

And here we must tread carefully, Mr. President. For is it not the case that every dictator has sought to control the legislature by force by placing it under guard, and arresting those most vocal in opposition against him?

Did not Ceasar violate the law by marching the 13 th legion across the Rubicon, then allowing legions under Marc Antony to take control of the Senate in Rome ? Did not Napoleon march his troops into the Etats Generale to seize control and have himself named consul? Did not Hitler's storm troopers stand guard within the halls of the Reichstag to guarantee Hitler's consolidation of executive and legislative powers?

We need not be experts on world history to know this, for we have seen this all happen in our own country, almost exactly 32 years ago, as then President Marcos closed both Houses of Congress as he imposed martial rule.

As we see a pattern of actions that seek to undermine this good Senate, it is about time that we asked what truly is the purpose of the Senate?

The purpose of the Senate is to speak out, to represent and to act, not just for a district, a province or a town, but for the entire country. As its members – we the Senators of this Republic – are elected by the entire country, some of our members in fact having a larger mandate than the President herself.

The purpose of the Senate is to provide a national perspective to legislation, to ensure that bills are scrutinized to ensure that they truly are what the entire country, and not just what a town, a province or a district, needs. The contribution of a legislature to the country is determined, not by the number of bills, but by their quality in how they can improve the lives of our people.

The purpose of the Senate, as representatives of the entire people of this Republic, is to scrutinize whether the executive uses its power and public funds to advance the rights of the people and protect their welfare. Is it not pointless indeed to pass laws if the executive fails precisely in its fundamental duty to uphold the Constitution and execute the laws of the land?

These duties are fundamental to our offices, Mr. President. These duties are fundamental to the institution to which we belong. These duties are essential to the maintenance of liberties of our people. And yet there are those of a treacherous cabal that question the purpose of our existence as an institution, and thus seek to eradicate one of the few remaining bulwarks of democracy in this country.

I am without any doubt that there exists a consistent and persistent attempt to bludgeon our people into submission. I am without any doubt that a plot exists to undermine our liberties by gnawing away at the pillars of our democracy. At every attempt at which we have used the powers vested in us to demand accountability from others in power, they have consistently sought to frustrate our duties. They have refused the right of the nation through their nationally elected representatives to demand an explanation for their abuses. Instead, they have frustrated the sovereign will of the people gathered in this our august chamber.

They have frustrated our inquiries into election fraud. They have frustrated our inquiries into violations of the rights of our people through unauthorized wiretapping. They have frustrated our inquiries into whether billions of the people's money have been judiciously spent on the promoting the welfare of our people, instead of keeping the few in power and lining their pockets, in the use of fertilizers, the north rail project, the search for the Marcos wealth.

They have frustrated our attempts to check whether the law is properly implemented by issuing the unconstitutional Executive Order No. 464 and, when the Supreme Court struck down the same, re-issued the same dressed in different clothes, as Memorandum Circular No. 108. They declared an unconstitutional "state of emergency" which served only as a tool to prevent some of our people from gathering freely and speaking out their minds despite the unequivocal guarantee of freedom of speech and assembly in our Constitution. They have sought to change our Constitution by unconstitutional means, by gathering signatures under an illegal initiative, and by claiming that the vote of one house of Congress under a bicameral system can go it alone.

All this, Mr. President, in the span of merely two years – all these acts that trample upon the Constitution, that violate the system of checks and balances, that flout the liberties of our people.

It is when the legislature is silenced that the people are denied their voice in government. It is when the legislature is silenced that the executive can become drunk on power, and run amuck and trample upon the rights of the people. It is when the legislature is controlled by the executive that the Republic dies, Mr. President.

There are those who stand guard outside these halls, Mr. President, who would claim loyalty to the chain of command. I hope and believe that, in their hearts, the welfare of the Filipino people expressed in the Constitution, in the system of a republican democracy – of the separation of powers to ensure and the primacy of the will of the people – comes first.

Mr. President, we must be vigilant. We must do as the Constitution demands of us, in protecting the liberties of our people, in ensuring their welfare, by enforcing a system of checks and balances, to ensure that our democracy descends not into tyranny.

Vigilance, not only amongst us, but among our people as well, so that our nation be not plunged into darkness once again.

Thank you and good afternoon.

Gordon relieved hearings on PCGG suspended

By TJ Burgonio -- Inquirer

THE Senate greeted with relief the Supreme Court order suspending its inquiry into the alleged dissipation of assets belonging to sequestered corporations, freeing Camilo Sabio and staying the arrest warrants on four officials each of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and a sequestered firm.

The senator who chaired the inquiry, the medical staff who watched over Sabio, and the legislative policemen who tracked down the defiant PCGG and Philcomsat Holdings Corp. (PHC) officials for over a week collectively heaved a sigh of relief now that they had been released, albeit temporarily, from their tough tasks.

"We're relieved from the daily hearings, which I wanted to do because there's somebody here under confinement,'' Sen. Richard Gordon said in a phone interview, referring to PCGG chairman Sabio. "But we intend to call again these people to account [for their acts], and craft a law. And the evidence so far obtained by the committee showed that the PCGG has been remiss in its duties.''

Gordon's committee on government corporations conducted daily hearings from September 14, two days after Sabio was taken into Senate custody, until September 18, a day before the PCGG chief underwent an executive checkup at the Makati Medical Center.

Their first face-off on Thursday last week was physically taxing for both Gordon and the hypertensive Sabio because they exchanged taunts and even engaged in a shouting match over the validity of Executive Order No. 1.

The three doctors, two nurses and a nursing aide who worked round-the-clock to keep watch over Sabio, whose blood pressure fluctuated while he was detained at the Senate clinic, were just as relieved as Gordon.

"I felt relieved after being informed that he was released. Now we can rest,'' Dr. Mariano Blancia, chief of the Senate's medical and dental services who often worked the night shift and rotated with two doctors throughout Sabio's detention, said in an interview.

Perhaps, the Senate policemen were the most physically exhausted because they were usually out all day staking out the offices, residences, business addresses and haunts of the defiant officials in the hopes of pinning them down.

Up until the high court issued its order Thursday afternoon, the agents failed to collar PCGG commissioners Ricardo Abcede, Nicasio Conti, Tereso Javier and Narciso Nario, as well as PHC executives Benito Araneta, chair; Philip Brodett, vice president and director; Manuel Andal, treasurer, Julio Jalandoni and Luis Lokin, directors.

Law groups back Nicole in fight vs Americans

EIGHTEEN law groups within an umbrella organization yesterday promised to campaign for a Filipina who accuses four US marines of raping her in Subic last year.

“Nicole’s fight is not just for her own right and dignity but for all women who continuously suffer from lack of access to justice,” Glenda Litong, national coordinator of Alternative Law Groups Inc., said in a statement.

“It is also a fight for national sovereignty against those who trample on the country’s principles of justice, freedom and independence,” she said.

On her 23rd birthday on Friday, Nicole said she still hoped that her team of state prosecutors would be replaced, claiming they had tried to stop her from pursuing her case.

The same day, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez ordered the state prosecutors to include Nicole’s private lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, on the team.

Earlier, Gonzalez ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into Nicole’s claim that the state prosecutors had urged her to settle the case out of court.

“Good, we want to have an honest investigation on the matter, it’s our criminal justice at stake here,” Litong said.

But she said her group “deplores the government’s spineless posture to a case which in the very beginning should have displayed that the country’s justice system is firm enough to stand and defend the interest of the state and its citizens.”

Litong said her group planned to question a provision in the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, which provides that the accused US marines could be sent home if their trial was not finished in one year.

“It’s part of a bigger strategy [to get justice for Nicole or other similar victims] with respect to the [agreement] itself,” Litong said.

“We’ll involve other legal organizations to look into the legality of the [agreement].”

Litong said her group had been supporting Nicole all along including Ursua, a member of the Women’s Legal Bureau that is under her group.

“We believe in the capacity of Attorney Ursua to represent Nicole. We provide legal strategies and backup work, but it’s her call,” she said.

Nicole, her mother and Ursua have been snubbing the court hearings on the case, claiming the prosecution panel has not been doing enough prosecution work.

Nicole claims that Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith raped her on a moving van in Subic on the night of Nov. 1 while three other marines—Lance Cpls. Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier—cheered him on.

She said she had been drinking with Smith inside a bar before Smith allegedly carried her outside to the waiting van accompanied by his fellow marines. Roy Pelovello - Manila Standard Today

'Hanggang Subic pier'

Mercado: 'Hanggang pier'
By Ram Mercado
First Person - SunStar

THERE was a time when the City of Olongapo and Angeles City were called "sin cities".

Media practitioners went as far as labeling the two communities as Sodom and Gomorrah.

The mantra, repeated quite too often, became self-fulfilling when the Pinatubo eruption of 1991 reduced the two cities nearly into a wasteland.

Most folks believed it was fitting punishment for the sin cities where prostitution was the flagship industry. Serving as the rest-and-recreation (R and R) haven of American servicemen on furlough, the two cities had gained international ill repute for their sex trade.

As long as the dollars came in, we did not mind what kind of enterprise brought the bucks to fuel the hospitality industry.

The sailors loved our women whom they described as a "little brown f___g machines." That's your version of a female helicopter.

Such had been, and still is, the notoriety of the two cities. First, prostitution was referred to as recreation for the US soldiers; then as a hospitality industry. It goes by the name tourism today.

Established tradition, reputation, and history give life to a place.
Baclaran is known for the devotee's destination to the Mother of Perpetual Help. Beach lovers go to Boracay. Mendiola Street is for protest-demonstrations.
Such is the setting of the celebrated rape case in Subic. The accused is a US Marine corporal, along with three colleagues. The incident is a retelling of sailors on leave, with four young soldiers out for fun in the former US naval base.

The complainant "Nicole" could have been any Filipino girl in the postwar era, prototype of the American boy-loving native who was left "hanggang pier" in 1945.

She was in fact left by the portside, dropped off or left by drinking companions at the Subic Bay's Neptune Club. It is the truth, too, that countless local girls, like Nicole, went with American sailors for a "gudtaym," and consensual sex mostly; the difference is Nicole was raped according to her.

Subic has become notorious for its sex workers. Drunken sailors out on a binge would not distinguish between a hooker and Mother Teresa if they meet one.

Like most Filipino girls her age, with an early exposure to American soldiers in her native Zamboanga, it was our girls' secret aspiration to befriend and most possibly and definitely to find a marriage material among the US personnel.

This is a segment of the American dream - and the US serviceman provides the opportunity, through marriage, to achieve a better life for our Filipino-woman. But the era of the little brown sex machine is over.

Thus when Nicole was invited by an American soldier-friend to visit Subic, the girl followed the Pied Piper, entranced by the invitation. Who knows, she might meet her future lover boy in that location?

Whatever the motive, if it was only for clean fun or for the aspiration to meet the right boy, she went there and joined the drinking.

The Marine corporal, for his part, saw a target of opportunity. There she was gulping mixed drinks, a fun girl from the South in a kinky male bar. Any male, sailor or not, cannot escape the sexual global warming inside Subic, an ecosystem of male hormonal overdrive that one finds at Clark, too.

Such location will always be a disaster area for the innocent, and a rich hunting ground, too, for the willing. Young men on a good time want to go "all-out". Any bar, in Clark or Subic, is always the staging area of a one-night stand. Pick-up girls mostly.

That Nicole was drunk was her undoing. And the corporal, being a disciplined US Marine, did not forget to use his condom, indicating premeditated intent, or anticipating the inevitable on the fateful night in Subic, consummating as he did, what all men would want to do during a night of carousing when some Filipino girls pursue the American dream, only to land, as in Nicole's case in the roadside curb by the Subic port.

Hanggang pier lamang.

Is rape possible at the backseat of a moving van? Tell it to the Marines.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thieves victimize Olongapo cop

OLONGAPO CITY—A police officer fell victim to a suspected car theft syndicate member after his car’s license plates were used in a stolen vehicle that was recovered here on Sept. 16. Police flagged down a gray Toyota Vios bearing the stolen car plates of Chief Insp. Jeric Villanueva, head of Police Precinct 6, at a checkpoint in front of the police headquarters.
Police stopped the Vios after they received information that a similar car was reported missing on Sept. 15. Police arrested the driver, Angelito de Vera, 24, and seized the car. De Vera admitted taking the car while it was parked at the garage of an apartment in Barangay East Bajac-Bajac here. He said he took the plates of another unattended car and transferred them to the Vios that he took.
Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon

Subic Bay boardwalk readied

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Inspired by the lively night life in Malate, Manila, the Subic Bay Boardwalk will open a similar night strip complete with food stands, entertainment and fun-filled activities that will run from September to summer of 2007.

Dubbed as the "Waterfront Strip," which will cover the whole boardwalk area, the strip will have an array of restaurants, bars, cafés and fast-food stalls as well as souvenir and specialty shops.

Musical shows and concerts will also be featured.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Deputy Administrator Ferdinand Hernandez said the boardwalk area is a prime place for a night strip.

"The Waterfront Road, with its hotels and other establishments, has become an attraction to both tourists and residents to visit, making it a most ideal event venue in Subic Freeport," he said. (Jonas Reyes - MB.COM)

Cebu Pacific to resume Clark-Cebu service

By Jun Malig -- Inquirer

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga -- Cebu Pacific, the second largest domestic airline, will resume next month its daily flights to and from Cebu City at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport here.

A promotional Cebu-Clark fare of 99 pesos is being offered if tickets are bought from September 19 to 26.

Victor Jose Luciano, president of Clark International Airport Corp., said the airline will use its newly acquired Airbus A319, which can accommodate 124 to 142 passengers.

He said the management of Cebu Pacific decided to renew flights here to strengthen the economic ties between the growth centers of Central Luzon and the Visayas.

Cebu Pacific will take off at 10:20 a.m. from Cebu and arrive here at 11:40 a.m. It will leave the DMIA at 12:10 p.m. and arrive in Cebu at 1:30 p.m.

Luciano said the DMIA has 43 international and 14 domestic passenger flights a week, aside from 60 international and domestic cargo fights.

He said the CIAC is expanding the passenger capacity of the airport and improving its security and other facilities.

The passenger terminal here is being used by Asiana Airlines, which has daily flights to Seoul, South Korea; Tiger Airways, with thrice a day flights to Singapore, Macau and Thailand; Air Asia with daily flights to Malaysia and Thailand; China Rich Airlines with three times a week flights to China.

Bar No.1 on rape case: It’s about duty to client

By Volt Contreras -- Inquirer
ONE of the lawyers bent on proving “Nicole” wrong is the bar topnotcher of 2005—a promising legal eagle with an impeccable political pedigree.

At 25 and with a Friendster account, Joan Alvarez de Venecia could have easily fit in the barkada (group) of the 23-year-old Filipino complainant in the Subic rape case—that is, had the two young women met under other, friendlier, circumstances.

“This should not be a gender issue, and it doesn’t mean I’m going against my fellow women,” she said, stressing that off-court issues “shouldn’t really matter” for lawyers who had a duty to their clients.

Joan—whose father, lawyer Antonio de Venecia, is a brother of the Speaker of the House—is part of the battery of Filipino lawyers defending the four US Marines whom Nicole had charged with rape before the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Her law firm, Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan, represents Lance Cpl. Keith Silkwood, and she mainly serves as an assistant to Silkwood’s lead lawyer, Jose Justiniano.

In an interview yesterday, the neophyte lawyer who started attending the rape hearings only on Sept. 11 admitted to already feeling the heat in the highly charged legal battle.

Just last Friday, she said, two of Nicole’s women supporters in the courtroom told her upfront: “Sayang ka, babae ka pa naman, at bar topnotcher pa (What a waste, you are a woman, too, a bar topnotcher at that).”

She said members of Task Force Subic Rape, who were then distributing leaflets on the occasion of Nicole’s 23rd birthday, were also saying snide things but not directly, as well as giving her dagger looks.

Part of the job

“That’s already an attack on my person and painful for me as a woman. But as a professional, I take it as part of the job,” De Venecia said.

Although she had been working on the case much earlier, De Venecia only began to be visible in court halfway through the three-month-old trial, when the defense started its presentation of evidence.

Being an assisting lawyer, she is often seen seated behind Justiniano and helping him sort out documents. She has yet to address the court herself, but obviously relishes just being there.

No. 1

“This is valuable training for first-year lawyers like me. You don’t get these things from books,” said the rookie, who obtained her law degree from the University of the Philippines but took her undergraduate course at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Like Nicole, she’s an Atenean, De Venecia noted. (Nicole is a graduate of the Ateneo de Davao.)

In the 2005 bar exam results that were announced in March, Joan was at the top of the passers’ heap with a score of 87.2.

As a student, she was most active in campus debates. (The anti-US groups now rallying behind Nicole may be pleased to hear that, as early as high school, De Venecia was “not exactly a fan of US foreign policy, especially its military intervention overseas.”)

Behind the scenes, De Venecia has mainly done legal research not only for Silkwood but also for his co-accused, Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith.

She once acted as “a private prosecutor” conducting a mock cross-examination of Silkwood inside the US Embassy.

No opinion

She also had a role in preparing the defense panel’s expert witness, Dr. Teresita Sanchez, for the “expected questions” of the prosecution during cross-examination.

And no, there has never been an occasion that she discussed the Subic rape case with her uncle “JDV” (Speaker Jose de Venecia).

“I haven’t personally met Nicole, and I have no opinion of her. And as a woman and a young lawyer, I would be the first to condemn the barbaric act of rape whether the victim—or perpetrator—is a Filipino or of another nationality,” she said.

But then, added the young compañera, “in my personal opinion, our clients are telling the truth.”

Verdict in US Marine rape case before December -- judge

By Tetch Torres
INQ7.net, Agence France-Presse

Originally, Makati City regional trial court Judge Benjamin Pozon said he intended to issue a ruling before November 1, exactly a year after a vacationing Filipino woman was allegedly raped inside the sprawling Subic Bay Freeport south of Manila.

"I don't think that is still possible because with the additional witness of the defense and rebuttal witnesses of the complainant I won't have enough time to prepare," Pozon said.

He made his statement after the fourth and last of the Marine defendants -- who had been stationed at the former US naval base of Subic Bay north of Manila -- stepped down from the witness stand.

But he gave assurances a verdict would be delivered before the one-year restrictive trial period imposed under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) lapses.

The rape case was filed in December 2005 in Olongapo City and the accused soldiers were arraigned in the Makati RTC in April. Pozon, however, earlier ruled that the counting began when the case was raffled off in the Olongapo court.

Under the VFA, which was signed by between Manila and Washington in 1998, the trial of foreign troops who are accused of violating the host country's penal code must be concluded within a year.

Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier face lengthy prison terms of up to 40 years if convicted of rape.

The complainant, who turned 23 this week, alleged that following a night out at a nightclub near the Us base last November, she was sexually assaulted by Smith in the back of a rented van as the three other Marines cheered him on.

Smith has testified he had consensual sex with the woman, only known as Nicole, and denied raping her.

The three other Marines, including Duplantis in his testimony Friday, supported Smith's version of events.

"I didn’t see anything in the van that was unusual," he said.

"I couldn’t tell what was exactly happening for sure but I saw Smith and the woman were actively involved," Duplantis told the court.

Filipino state prosecutors introduced 23 witnesses during the trial, which began on April 28.

The case has stoked bitter anti-US sentiment in the former American colony.

US forces gave up their major bases at Subic Bay and Clark Air Base in the early 1990s after the Filipino senate refused to ratify a new bases treaty.

The trial resumes next week, when lawyers for the defendants conclude their case.

On Monday, forensic pathologist Dr. Teresita Sanchez will return to the witness stand for cross-examination.

Pozon also ordered the defense to give the name of their new witnesses by Monday or they will no longer be allowed to testify.

Meanwhile, the prosecution said they will have three rebuttal witnesses, including Guy Papageorge from the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service (US-NCIS).

Bases dev’t agency: Expressway will open on time

By Albert B. Lacanlale - SunStar

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO --- Despite a slight delay in the construction of the 93.7-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), its implementing agency, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), is optimistic that the tollway project will be completed on schedule.

Led by BCDA president Narciso Abaya, the BCDA Board recently signified the agency’s commitment to the speedy completion of the SCTEx as it intensified its monitoring of its Japanese partners - Hazama-Taisei-Nippon (HTN) Joint Venture for Package 2 and the Kajima-Obayashi-JFE Engineering-Mitsubishi Corporation (KOJM) Joint Venture for Package 1 - in the construction of the four-lane tollroad.

According to BCDA records, as of September 13, 2006, a total negative slippage of 11.6146 percent was noted for Package 1, which stretches from Subic to Clark. Target accomplishment for the date is 49.1504 percent of the total work, but only 37.5358 percent has been completed.

Package 1 costs some P12.7 billion and construction is expected to be complete on November 16, 2007.

For the P8.27-billion Package 2 (Clark-Tarlac Section), a negative slippage of 6.7777 percent had been recorded.

With a contract duration of 850 working days, construction has been ongoing for 511 days. It is expected to be completed by August 18 next year.

The whole project has a negative slippage of 9.7068 percent.

Abaya said when the SCTEx becomes fully operational late next year, the toll road will link the Subic Port in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) and the Luisita Industrial Park in Tarlac. The SCTEx will serve as the backbone of a new and highly competitive economic corridor of the country in the Southeast Asian region.

Once the SCTEx is operational, it would only take some 30 minutes to travel from Clark to Subic and vice versa. Likewise, it would only take a mere 20 minutes to travel from Clark to Tarlac and vice versa.

The SCTEx is a flagship project of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and is espoused under the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP). At 93.7 km, the SCTEx will be the longest toll road of the country.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Gordon urges PRC officials to resign

By Ronnie E. Calumpita, Manila Times Reporter

Sen. Richard Gordon on Wednesday told officials of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) pointblank to resign for failing to ensure fairness in the June nursing board examination and tarnishing the integrity of the nursing profession.

“What is involved here is the integrity of the profession and the responsibility of the commission and the board [of nursing],” Gordon told the officials at the hearing of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization.

The committee is looking into the leak that marred the licensure examination.

“The big deal is that there is no explanation on how we are dealing with the problem, with the whole system. I think all of you should resign,” he said.

Gordon also wanted to know why the PRC was trying to cover up the leak by authorizing the oath-taking of successful examinees while the National Bureau of Investigation and the Senate were still looking into the anomaly.

“I don’t understand why you allowed the oath-taking,” Gordon told PRC Chairman Leonor Tripon-Rosero.

Rosero insisted she would not resign over the controversy, and that the PRC was only recognizing the rights of board examinees who passed. “We will revoke or suspend their license” if those who took the oath before the issuance of a temporary restraining order by the Court of Appeals are found to have benefited from the leak,” she said.

Questions in the exam were reportedly shown during the final coaching conducted by the Inress Review Center and Philippine College of Health Sciences owned by George Cordero, who recently resigned as president of the Philippine Nurses Association.

Cordero, who was also implicated in the leak, did not attend Wednesday’s hearing. He said he was rushed Monday to the Saint Luke’s Medical Center for the “recurrence of my previous surgical condition, a fistula which has been profusely bleeding.”

Other officials of the PRC, Commission on Higher Education and NBI attended the hearing, apparently avoiding being served arrest warrants by the Senate, just like it did Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman Camilo Sabio.

“They know the law and the detention of a big fish [Sabio] in the Senate really helped,” Gordon said.

“It vindicates the fact that the Senate is a very responsible institution and because of the answers we’re getting we’re going come up with a better law and better nurses. To me it shows that the check-and-balance function [of the Senate] is working. In these investigations we see the qualities of the people we put in the PRC, Board of Nursing and CHED,” he added.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon said that if the PRC commissioners snub the hearing, the Senate will cite them in contempt and serve arrest warrants on them.

“I’m just completing the process; we’ve issued two invitations, then subpoenas, which they also snubbed. We then ordered them to show cause why they should not be cited in contempt but failed to respond. The last ones we issued were subpoenas to appear in today’s hearing, which they did,” Biazon said.

Julito Vitriolo, CHED deputy executive director, also attended Wednesday’s hearing although the Senate has not issued a subpoena against him. It was the first time a CHED official appeared in the investigation.

New Subic-Clark expressway junction proposed

By Albert B. Lacanlale - Sun Star

SAN Fernando City Mayor Oscar Rodriguez and the Advocates for the Development of Central Luzon (ADCL) recommended on Wednesday the provision of another interchange at the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) to serve Angeles City and at least five other towns of Pampanga.

The proposal of the "Angeles Interchange" comes even as the group that met in a forum with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and other sectoral leaders at the Herbs and Greens Restaurant in Barangay Baliti here continues to support similar proposals to create interchanges in Porac and Mabalacat.

"We continue to support the proposed interchange in Porac," said ADCL chairman Rene Romero.

Romero said an interchange in the Angeles City area, just outside the Clark Special Economic Zones (CSEZ), is ideal to prevent traffic jams in Porac if and when the proposed Porac interchange is opened and SCTEx is fully operational.

He explained that Porac's main roads may not be wide enough to accommodate the huge number of vehicles since all vehicles coming from various points of Pampanga like San Fernando, Bacolor, Apalit, Minalin and Angeles City would pass through the second district town to gain access to SCTEx.

Heavy traffic inside Clark may also be triggered if motorists would opt to use the two interchanges inside the ecozone as points of entry and exit to the soon-to-be opened tollway.

"As much as possible, we do not want traffic jams building up inside Clark so as not to dishearten investors," Romero said.

He added that cargoes using Clark as point of exit from SCTEx may mean additional expenses for firms as they would have to pay customs fee to bring out their freight.

With the present traffic problems in Clark and Porac, he said, the Angeles interchange should be opened.

Romero said that instead of constructing bridges to connect San Fernando and Angeles City to the Porac interchange, the fund that would have been allocated can be used to erect another interchange.

The Angeles interchange will be accessible to the City of San Fernando, Apalit, Bacolor, Guagua, Minalin and other towns via the East Lateral embankment of the FVR Megadike or Manila North Road.

However, the BCDA, the agency implementing the SCTEx project, said it would have to study the proposal first and determine possible funding.

Romero said that although their group is advocating for the provisions of the interchanges, their main thrust is the completion of SCTEx. "These interchanges will come when SCTEx has become fully operational. Our first and foremost wish is for the tollway to be completed immediately," he said.

The ADCL, a self-proclaimed watchdog of the SCTEx project, envisions four major areas for total development of the region and the rest of Northern Luzon. These are infrastructure development, supporting physical development as backbone of business and investment; human resource development, to ensure a steady flow of reliable and dependable labor supply; environmental management, to guarantee the welfare and fortification of natural resources; and good governance, the vital factor that will ensure the realization and accomplishment of all of the aspirations.

"I would like to declare that ADCL is a self-motivated crusader for the welfare of development in Central Luzon. Our mandate comes from each and every Kapampangans' desire for progress and development in our province," Romero said

Women Lie in Support of Filipina National Raped by US Marines

San Francisco, CA-- On the evening of September 15, 2006, members of the Filipino/ American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity (FACES) and Women for Genuine Security (WGS) lay in symbolic protest around the Dewey statue in downtown San Francisco.

Gala King, FACES board chair, stated, “We lie here to demonstrate the victimization of women internationally and the disrespect for the Philippines propagated by current US foreign policy. We are in solidarity with Nicole, the victim of this atrocity, and the women of Philippine organizations working with her to seek justice for this crime.”

The silent protest was held in response to US Marines brutally raping Nicole, a 22-year-old Filipina woman, at the former Subic Naval Base in Olongapo, Philippines on November 1, 2005. Currently, the Marines face trial in the Philippines.

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the US allows the entry and mobilization of forces anywhere in the Philippines and limits trial duration. The US military presence as a result of the VFA undermines the sovereignty of the Philippines and has spawned many violations and injustices, such as violence against women.

The Dewey statue was chosen as the site for the silent protest as it inaccurately commemorates Admiral Dewey’s success in ‘liberating’ the Filipinos during the Spanish American War, which set the stage for US entry into the Philippines and the ongoing oppression and violations the US military presence continues to perpetuate.

In preparation of the activity, protestors joined hands and reflected on a statement that Nicole wrote for the San Francisco protest. Nicole wrote, “It is very difficult for a woman to come out and tell everybody that she was raped… To think that I am not even safe in my own country.”

Over 300 people witnessed the event with several signing a solidarity statement that will be sent to the Philippines. Afterward, event coordinator Christina Leaño said, “The number of people that stopped to thank us for the action underscores how this injustice resonates in the hearts of so many.”

The Taskforce for Subic Rape Case, a coalition of women’s organizations in the Philippines, simultaneously held a mobilization. The date was chosen to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the US military pullout from the Philippines on September 16, 1992. Support for justice for Nicole was also expressed at a recent rally against the US occupation in Iraq on September 11, 2006 in Okinawa, Japan. The demonstration organized by FACES and WGS in Union Square represents a part of the larger support efforts seen in solidarity actions internationally.

Rape was normal sex, says Marine

From correspondents in Manila
Article from: Agence France-Presse

ONE of four US Marines at the centre of a controversial rape case told a Philippine court today that he saw no rape, just "normal lovemaking".

Lance Corporal Keith Silkwood said that when he and his fellow accused rode in a van with the Filipina, she and Lance Corporal Daniel Smith engaged in "normal lovemaking."

"They were kissing, being flirtatious, kind of making out. I could hear what was going on, the sound of kissing and giggling.

"I think it was normal lovemaking," he said, adding he also did not witness anything that indicated the woman was struggling against Corporal Smith.

The 22-year-old woman, only known as Nicole, had earlier said she met the Marines at a nightclub last November inside the former US naval base at Subic Bay, north of Manila.

She told the court the Marines took her into a rented van where Corporal Smith raped her while the others cheered him on. All four have been charged with rape under Philippine law.

Corporal Smith earlier told the court he had sex with the woman but it was consensual.

Apart from Corporal Silkwood and Corporal Smith the other defendants in the case are Lance Corporal Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier.

Nicole has boycotted the proceedings after she publicly accused government prosecutors of "incompetence" and with being too lenient on the Americans.

The Justice Department earlier said it would not replace the prosecutors.

The case has stoked bitter anti-US sentiment in this former American colony and sparked street protests.

It is also seen as a litmus test for the Visiting Forces Agreement that grants limited immunity to criminal prosecution to US soldiers taking part in manoeuvres in the country.

Under the terms of the agreement, US military defendants can be held in custody by the US Embassy in Manila but tried in a civilian Philippine court where the judge can decide whether to open proceedings to the media or public.

US soldier says colleague, Nicole 'were only making love'

ANOTHER US servicemen accused of raping a 22-year-old Filipino woman last year in a former US naval base took to the witness stand Thursday and denied the accusation saying that what he witnessed and heard between Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and the complainant was the "normal act of lovemaking."

Appearing before the sala of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 139 Judge Benjamin Pozon, Lance Corporal Keith Silkwood said what he saw inside their rented van on the night on Nov. 1, 2005 was Smith and the complainant, given the pseudonym Nicole to hide her identity, kissing each other and that the sounds emanating from them sounds like they were having a "normal lovemaking".

"They were kissing, being flirtatious, kind of making out. I could hear what is going on, the sound of kissing and giggling," said Silkwood, adding that he didn't do anything to because "I think it was normal lovemaking and it's out of my business to intervene. I also didn't heard nor see anything to suggest she was struggling or fighting off Smith."

Nicole earlier told the court that she tried to fight off Smith but that she was too weak at the time and feeling dizzy after imbibing several glasses of liquor at the Neptune Bar where she met the accused and that he was too heavy for her.

He said when the Starex van driven by Timoteo Soriano reached the gate of the pier at the Subic Bay Freeport, the former base of the US 7th Fleet, where the amphibious assault ship, USS Essex was docked, he heard Smith telling Nicole that they don't have the time to finish the intercourse as they were in a hurry to beat the curfew and get back to the ship.

"I remembered hearing Smith saying he doesn't have the time to finish and I heard her say 'Are you already done'," said Silkwood in response to a question from defense counsel Jose Justiniano.

In his testimony last Monday, Smith told the court what he had testified that he indeed had sex with Nicole but insisted that it was consensual.

Another accused, Staff Sergeant Chad Brian Carpentier also told the same story when he testified last Tuesday, adding that Nicole is "a professional out to prey on the vulnerability of Smith."

The prosecution argued that she was too drunk at the time to give her consent. Nicole testified that it was Smith who allegedly raped her while his companions - Silkwood, Lance Corporal Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Brian Carpentier - egged him on.

Silkwood also denied the claim made by prosecution witness, Joseph Khungon last June that he saw him and Smith carry Nicole like a "pig" outside the van while they left in a hurry toward the ship.

"It was Duplantis who first exited the van and then me. She stepped out of the van and Smith gave her a hand but she stepped out on his own," stressed Silkwood when asked by Justiniano.

The defense said Silkwood's testimony would prove that their was no rape and that the complainant gave her consent but the prosecution said he was able to make their case strong as he had several "inconsistencies" during his nearly three hours of testimony.

Among the inconsistencies they pointed out is a different portion of his statement given to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and on the counter-affidavit he filed on Nov. 20, 2005, particularly his NCIS statement that said he talked to Lance Corporal Corey Burris, one of their companions at the bar when they saw Burris a pizza parlor while they were onboard the van returning to their ship.

That particular statement was not mentioned in the affidavit, the prosecution pointed out.

Meanwhile Nicole has formally filed before the court a manifestation stating her "complete lost of trust and the confidence in the panel of state prosecutors" and asked that it takes notice of her manifestation.

"I believe that they have lost all moral authority to represent me and the people's interest in the case," said Nicole who has not been attending the hearing since she and her mother walked out last week after expressing disgust with the prosecution's handling of the cross-examination of Smith.

She said the prosecution was too "lenient" on Smith and that they are "incompetent" to handle the case.

The incident resulted in a vicious spat as Senior State Prosecutor Emelie se Los Santos, who heads the prosecution panel, responded to Nicole and her mother's accusations and called them "liar" and "ingrates".

Nicole earlier asked Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. to replace the prosecution panel but the official rejected her request. Gonzalez later said he might replace the panel as he ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the allegation of Nicole's mother that de Los Santos talked to her about a settlement offer with the accused allegedly in exchange for the case of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante who is detained for immigration-related problem by US authorities, a claim that was denied by the government.

Bolante allegedly masterminded the "fertilizer scam" prior to the 2004 presidential election.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said the Subic rape case would not and could not be traded off for the case of Bolante.

Kenney assured that the US would continue to cooperate with the government in ensuring a smooth trial and eventually the resolution of the rape case.

She added that she understand the fears of the victim's family as their case is "very emotional and difficult".

"(But) the two cases are completely different, there's no connection. One is a case being tried for violation of a US law in the US and another is a case concerning an incident that happened in the Philippines, being tried in a Philippine court with a Philippine judge. There's simply no connection," she said.

Kenney, the first woman US ambassador to the Philippines, said the cases should just be allowed to "play out" in accordance with existing laws. (AH/JMR/Sunnex)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Subic Freeport celebrates month-long tourism week

After successfully attracting more tourists to visit here, even during the rainy days of August, a more colorful and busier month is in store for everyone as the country's premier Freeport joins the nationwide celebration of the National Tourism Week this month.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Administrator Armand C. Arreza revealed that most hotels and tourist facilities in the Freeport have reported full occupancy rate last month.

"It is very surprising to know that hotels in the Subic Freeport have recorded high occupancy despite heavy rains due to the typhoons. We are hoping to get the same or better feedback as we celebrate the tourism week," said Arreza.

Arreza also attributed the rise in tourist arrivals as a result of the intensified promotion campaign being undertaken by the SBMA and the holding of new activities which drew thousands of sports enthusiasts and other vacationers.

Events like the first-ever SBMA Tricycle Drag Race Competition which was participated in by nearly 500 drivers, the first Subic Mardi Gras which showcased the colors and melodrama of the Subic Bay through festive music, stage shows and foods, the Feast of San Roque and the colorful Karakol Street Dancing Competition, the Central Luzon leg of the 30th Milo Marathon Regional with nearly 12,000 runners, and the celebrity Coca-Cola Basketball Gimik sa Subic are among the August activities, to name a few, that kicked off the influx of tourists.

Consequently, the SBMA has prepared more events as part of the celebration of the Freeport's Tourism Month which will coincide with the National Tourism Week celebration on September 20-27.

"We are observing the Subic Freeport Tourism Month this September and we have already prepared bigger, merrier and louder activities to make everyone's stay here unforgettable," lawyer Ferdinand Hernandez, SBMA Deputy Administrator for Administration announced.

Among the exciting sports events are the SBMA Chairman's Cup Shooting Tournament, the Motocross Championships and the 4x4 Off-Road Championships at the Freeport's Motocross Race Track.

"The SBMA and organizers of the full-contact martial arts competition are currently negotiating for the holding of the Ultimate Reality Combat Championships here this months," Hernandez said.

Ultimate Reality Combat is a combination of almost all martial arts skills including karatedo, boxing and taekwondo.

SBMA Chairman Feliciano G. Salonga will lead SBMA colleagues and visitors in the opening of "The Waterfront Strip," a portion of the Waterfront Roadlined-up with an array of restaurants, bars, cafes and fast food stalls.

"Waterfront Road has become the most ideal venue for sports and entertainment events here. Complimented with the scenic view of the bay and the establishments of all sorts, it has now become a favorite hang out of everybody," Salonga said.

Other activities line-up this month include live band show of the band Cueshe in a concert on September 22, the Cheer Dance Competition at the Subic Gym on September 24, the two-day Asia's Best Eat-All-You-Can Food Festival at the El Centro on September 29-30, and familiarization tours.

"People are now talking about the Subic Freeport not only for its industrial aspect, but also for the many wonderful places and activities to see and enjoy as well. That is the uniqueness of Subic Freeport," Salonga said. (PNA)

Nicole to tell court she does not trust prosecution--lawyer

By Volt Contreras -- Inquirer

THE complainant in the Subic rape case is expected to tell the court on Thursday of her "absolute loss of trust'' in the public prosecutors who have stayed on the case a week after she called them incompetent and asked for their replacement.

Evalyn Ursua, the private counsel for "'Nicole,'' said her client planned "to make official and on-record'' her continuing disapproval of the panel headed by Senior State Prosecutor Emilie Fe De los Santos.

Nicole will still not attend Thursday’s hearing but will just file a "simple manifestation'' with Makati City Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon, Ursua said in an interview.

Nicole earlier said she wanted all the public prosecutors relieved except for Hazel Valdez. On Monday, however, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez turned down her request.

But Ursua disclosed that Gonzalez, after initially rejecting Nicole's plea, asked her on Tuesday to specify the reasons why she wanted the De los Santos-led panel out. Ursua said Nicole was preparing her reply Wednesday.

Ursua said the public prosecutors should already yield to Nicole's call "'out of delicadeza'' and "'ethics in the legal profession.''

"Among lawyers, when your client tells you that you're not trusted anymore, you say, `Okay, fine','' she explained. "Please, let us not wait for the day when we start calling it a sellout.''

Meanwhile, even Nicole's psychiatrist has joined in the fray and criticized Gonzalez and the public prosecutors for adding to her patient's anguish.

Dr. June Pagaduan Lopez said she and fellow health professionals keeping track of Nicole's case were alarmed that Gonzalez, instead of being Nicole's protector, is now "a factor in her re-traumatization.''

"We are outraged that the state prosecutors and their chief have resorted to ‘victim bashing,' calling the complainant and her mother ‘spoiled brats,' ‘ingrates,' `liars,' and worse of all, accusing (Nicole) of `imagining things' including her rape,'' Lopez said in a media statement.

"We firmly believe that because of their manifest ill will and unethical behavior, (they) have lost their moral authority to prosecute,'' she stressed.

Avalanche of toy guns alarms Customs

With the Christmas season fast approaching, imported toy guns and other holiday giveaways have been arriving in bulk.

Over the weekend, Bureau of Customs agents seized P37 million worth of smuggled items, including plastic resins and toy guns, during separate operations in Subic and Manila.

Operatives of the Custom’s Intelligence and Investigation Service headed by Teodoro Sagaral seized the smuggled toy guns contained in a 20-footer van at the Port of Manila. The shipment was consigned to Black Lines Distributor.

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said the importer violated the law against importation and sale of replicas of guns. “Sometimes these toy guns are used by criminal elements in their activity,” he said.

Customs men also seized some P25 million worth of resins, a raw material in producing plastic products such as chairs and tables, at the Port of Subic. The items were grossly undervalued.

Morales explained that the owner had declared in the shipment’s import entry that each van contained P60,000 worth of imported resins, when their actual value was P120,000.

The imported resin, contained in some 16,400 bags inside 13 container vans, came from India and was consigned to PCS Cargo Movers Network.

Morales immediately ordered an investigation. “If our investigation warrants the suspension of some of our officials, even a district collector, we will not hesitate to do so.”

In another operation in Manila, the Customs apprehended three container vans of used clothing worth P10 million consigned to IJS Global Logistics and Alelon Enterprises.

Morales explained that importation of used clothing was strictly prohibited under Republic Act 4653. He added the bureau was filing charges against owners of the shipments. Joel Zurbano - Manila Standard Today

US envoy: Walang aregluhan kina 'Nicole' at 'Joc-joc'

Dalawang magkaibang usapin umano ang pilit na iniuugnay na kaso ni dating agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante at ang Subic rape case, anang embahador ng Estados Unidos sa Maynila.

"There's simply no connection between the two. They're just not related at all," pahayag ni US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.

Ito umano ang iginiit ni Kenney nang humarap sa programang “Strictly Politics” sa ANC kaugnay sa maugong na balitang may plano ang pamahalaan na makipag-areglo sa pamilya ng biktima ng Subic rape case kapalit ng kaso ni Bolante sa US.

"I've read that in the papers. The two cases have no connection, you know. The Bolante case is a case concerning violation of US immigration laws in the US, [it is] being [heard] in the US court with a US judge. The Subic case is being heard in the Philippines under a Philippine judge," sabi pa ni Kenney.

Umaasa umano si Kenney na magiging patas ang pagdinig sa Subic rape case habang ipinaabot din nito ang pakikisimpatiya sa pamilya ng biktima at ng US marines na sangkot sa kaso.

"It's a difficult and emotional case. I actually feel like it's been difficult for those all involved. And I really have a lot of sympathy for the families. It must really been difficult."

Tumanggi naman si Kenney na magbigay ng anumang komento hinggil sa tunay na dahilan ng pagkakaaresto ni Bolante sa US.

"For privacy reasons, we never talk about who or who don't have a visa and why," dagdag pa nito.

Si Bolante ay inaresto noong Hulyo 7 sa Los Angeles International Airport matapos dumating mula Seoul, Korea dahil sa kanselado umanong B1/B2 visa niya. Ang ex-agriculture official na nahaharap sa P728-million fertilizer fund ay nakakulong ngayon sa Kenosha County Detention Center sa Wisconsin.

Idinagdag pa ni Kenney sa ekslusibong panayam na hindi niya tiyak kung mapagbibigyan si Bolante sa hiling na asylum sa US.

"The policy is each case is looked at separately. Experts, and I'm not one of them, will look at what grounds and are those grounds valid, do they have good merit," paliwanag ng US envoy.

Samantala, nababahala din ang US ukol sa laganap na pagpatay sa mga mamamahayag at aktibista sa bansa.

"Frankly, every time people are killed, it's murder. And it has to be investigated and people have to be brought to justice," aniya.

Kinatigan naman ni Kenney ang pagbuo ng pamahalaan ng Melo Commission na makapagbibigay-linaw sa kung sino ang nasa likod ng mga insidente ng pamamaslang sa bansa. Bandila

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CDC president bids goodbye

By Ding Cervantes -- The Philippine Star

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga — Clark Development Corp. president and chief executive officer Antonio Ng bade goodbye to employees of the state-run firm yesterday.

Ng, who had occupied the top CDC position for 18 months, tendered his resignation and went on leave starting last Monday.

In an e-mail to his fellow CDC officials and employees, Ng said, "We had a great ride and a great time together as we tried to create jobs and economic activity for Clark to address poverty in Pampanga and in the country."

He thanked the CDC personnel for their "support and cooperation," saying, "Ministers and leaders of government may come and go, but the organization and bureaucracy stays to run the business of government with dedication, consistency and predictability."

"You are playing that role. You are the mainstay, the foundation for better governance," he added.

Meanwhile, at the Bayanihan Park at the main gate of the Clark special economic zone, streamers welcomed the appointment of Capampangan businessman Liberato Laus as Ng’s replacement effective Oct. 1.

Former CDC president and CEO Emmanuel Angeles, now the chancellor of the Angeles University Foundation, lauded President Arroyo’s appointment of Laus.

"The people of Pampanga and the rest of Central Luzon are happy about this development, as we will support him," he said.

Ng’s executive vice president, Jose Victor Luciano, also a Capampangan from Magalang town, was appointed a week ago as the president of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), a CDC subsidiary.

Pending the appointment of his replacement, Luciano remains as CDC executive vice president in a concurrent capacity.

Earlier, the President also appointed another cabalen, Alex Cauguiran, as CIAC executive vice president, a position especially created for him.

Cauguiran, a former activist and later councilor of Angeles City, used to chair the Move Clark Now Movement which batted for the immediate conversion of the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport into one of the country’s premier international gateways.

Laus’s wife, Ma. Theresa, has been known to be one of the President’s political supporters in Pampanga.

Last year, the President appointed Laus as a member of the Advocacy Commission for Charter Change.

At present, Laus is the chairman of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the San Fernando Heritage Foundation, and co-chairman of the Pampanga Investments Board.

SubicTel sets up wireless broadband Internet at Subic

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes -- The Philippine Star

Subic Telecommunications Co. (SubicTel) has set up wireless broadband at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone to allow more clients to enjoy the benefits of high-speed Internet access.

SubicTel, a subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), is now reselling the Smart Bro wireless DSL (digital subscriber line) service of sister company Smart Communications Inc. in order to speed up provisioning for those who need broadband access.

"Smart Bro, since it uses WiFi, or wireless fidelity technology, doesn’t require phone lines. It’s all wireless," according to SubicTel general manager Henry Abes. "Even those without landline phones can have broadband Internet access similar in performance to wired DSL."

DSL is a technology that uses traditional copper lines used in landline phones. SubicTel also offers DSL to a growing number of clients in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

"Through this partnership with Smart, we offer our clients more choices and flexibility in choosing the right services they need. Our expanded portfolio of services ensures that we offer only the best services to our clients," Abes said.

At present, SubicTel already has 850 DSL subscribers. By reselling Smart Bro, the company expects to expand its reach and spur development in the area through innovative services and business partnerships.

SubicTel has already invested almost P1 billion since 1994 to develop the telecommunications infrastructure in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. It was created in 1994 after PLDT, SBMA and US-based AT&T decided to form a joint venture to provide state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities for the freeport.

At that time, PLDT was the only telecommunications company that accepted former SBMA chairman Richard Gordon’s call for help in rebuilding Subic. Because of this missionary role of SubicTel, locators soon came in and contributed to the development of Subic.

SubicTel officials said the company continues to invest in the development of the telecommunications infrastructure in the zone to meet the needs of locators and potential investors.

The other services that SubicTel offers to locators in the freeport and retail clients include residential lines, private leased lines, virtual private network (VPN), voice over VPN, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

US Marine says ‘Nicole’ a ‘professional’

One of the United States Marines accused of raping a Filipina last year in Subic, Olongapo City, yesterday said he does not believe the complainant’s claim that she was raped by Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, even describing the victim as “a professional prying on the vulnerability” of the accused.

Staff Sgt. Chad Bryan Carpentier, a 28-year-old member of the US Marines Corps, who took the witness stand yesterday, said he does not see “Nicole,” as a victim, but rather as a woman who is “not a self-respecting.”

Carpentier took the witness stand during the continuation of the marathon trial involving principal accused Lance Cpls. Daniel Smith, and co-accused Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis.

While on trial, Carpentier and his co-accused Marine buddies are on “confinement status” at a US Embassy, on custodial terms of the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Hearings on the case are heard every afternoon, except Wednesday, in the sala of Judge Benjamin Pozon of Branch 139 of the Makati Regional Trial Court in Makati City.

Carpentier is the second of the four US servicemen to testify in the case.

Nicole earlier testified that Carpentier, Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood reportedly cheered Smith on while raping her. They are considered accessories to the alleged crime.

Carpentier, most senior among the four soldiers, said his morals would not permit rape to happen under any circumstance, that “if a female is in harm’s way, you could bet his bottom dollar that he will interact and assist in a way.”

But he said he did nothing to help the girl as he was under impression that the complainant was not a self-respecting woman and that she was only forced to file the complaint after having been “ashamed and embarrassed of her conduct.”

“What she did in the back of the van, is not what you can call as in accordance with a self-respecting woman,” Carpentier said, adding he thinks the complainant was “compelled to go along with the wheel that was already turning.”

Pozon later asked Carpentier why he thought of the girl as a “professional,” despite his admission that he never actually met her before the incident and that he never observed what transpired between Smith and the victim at the back of the van as it was being driven the midnight of Nov. 1, 2005.

Carpentier said he got that impression when he saw the girl allegedly in a flirtatious act with Smith at the Neptune Club.

Nicole claimed Smith raped her while the accused claimed what happened was consensual sex.

During cross-examination, Prosecutor Elizabeth Berdal asked Carpentier why he failed to help the complainant despite the fact that he had a lot of time to help the girl fix her pants up or possibly bring the girl back to her place.

Berdal noted Carpentier had a lot of time to spare since his curfew was at 2 a.m., and not 12 midnight as his fellow accused.

She also pointed out some of the “inconsistencies” in Carpentier’s testimony compared to his earlier statements, particularly on his allegedly being drunk when he arrived at the Neptune Club and his fellow soldiers’ cheering while Smith was having sex with the victim.

Carpentier said there were discrepancies in the reports made by agents of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).

He pointed out that NCIS agents Bruce Warshawski and Gui Papageorge, during interrogation after the alleged rape took place, actually committed several “misinterpretations” and “misquotations” in the reports, with which the prosecution was also furnished.

“When I read it, I noticed some misinterpretation. I told the lawyers but neither of us were concerned, anyway (they said) I’d be called up to straighten that out by the time I testify in court,” Carpentier told the court.

Nicole’s camp, including her mother Susan and private counsel Evalyn Ursua, called a press conference to reiterate their call for the immediate replacement of the public prosecutors handling the case.

“We firmly believe that because of their manifest ill will and unethical behavior, the state prosecutors and (Justice) Secretary Gonzales have lost their moral authority to prosecute the perpetrators of the crime against Nicole,” June Lopez, the complainant’s psychiatrist, said.

Instead of addressing their clamor, Lopez said the state prosecutors remain blind to the concerns and issues raised by the complainant and her family.

“They have resorted to victim bashing, calling the complainant and her mother spoiled brats, ingrata, liar and worst of all, accusing her of imagining things, including her rape,” Lopez said.

“We are alarmed that the state prosecutors and their chief, Secretary Raul Gonzales, do not possess the ability to build the necessary rapport and trust with the complainant,” Lopez added.

Nicole reiterated that she will never surrender her case and will never agree to an out of court settlement as suggested by lead prosecutor Emilie Fe delos Santos.

The accuser’s family has been claiming they were coaxed last month by Delos Santos into settling with the Americans so as not to jeopardize the the VFA. Small-crowd rallies near the courtroom building call for the scrapping of the VFA because, as one of their streamers stated, “the rape of Nicole is a rape of the Philippines.”

Nicole and her mother left the courtroom in a huff last Thursday, complaining of the incompetence and negligence of the five-man prosecuting team of the DoJ assigned to her case.

Carpentier downgraded Nicole’s evaluation of Delos Santos’ team as “unfounded and ridiculous” and volunteered the claims are “based on frustration with the fact that our side of the story is finally being heard.”

When Smith testified a week ago, he struck those inside the courtroom, including Jesuit priest, Fr. James Reuter, as cool, collected and coherent.

This riled and demoralized Nicole, her mother, and her private counsel, with Nicole later on admitting to reporters that she felt she was losing her case.

According to Carpentier, “Smith’s testimony was honest and accurate, that is why it came across as “cool, collected, and coherent.”

“That is the difference between a witness that is speaking on the facts and (is) honest, vice someone trying to remember rehearsed testimony,” Carpentier added.

“It was naive and ridiculous for (Nicole) and her mother to think this case could have gone through the judicial process without our side being heard,” Carpentier pointed out.

Gonzales did not replace any member of the team, which was back in harness Monday this week after a recess Friday following caused by Nicole’s tantrums.

But as the Marines’ leader and spokesman, Carpentier said “it tears (him) apart to see and hear the way some people try to portray us.”

He said “Smith, Silkwood and Duplantis are just kids, they have their whole life ahead of them. It is devastating to see your name associated with such heinous accusations. We try to remember that the truth will come out and be heard, and our names will eventually be cleared.”

“When this case is over,” he said, “there will be no winner or loser, because five peoples’ (referring to themselves and Nicole) lives will be forever changed by the case.”

Ben Gines, Jr. with PNA


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