Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, December 22, 2006


"She was attacked inside the Subic Free Port Zone"
The agreement between Manila and Washington, which gives the latter the custody of convicted rapist US soldier Daniel Smith, has angered women's rights organizations. Gabriela, a local militant organization, said that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration should be "ashamed." "After brazenly defending Smith during the trial, the Arroyo administration dares to go as far as orchestrating Smith's release even if he was already convicted and committed to local jail," Gabriela Secretary General Emmi De Jesus said in a statement Thursday.

“Shame on them, for obstructing justice and interfering with the interest of the victim and the people for their maliciously selfish gains,” she added.

The agreement to turn over the convict was signed by Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alberto Romulo, and US Ambassador, Kristie Kenney, on Wednesday. It was attached to a motion that the Foreign Affairs department filed with the appeals court, where Smith has submitted a petition to have the custody order overturned

The agreement is the third, since Judge Benjamin Pozon had previously rejected two, signed by justice department officials. Judge Pozon had said that “they were not the appropriate authorities to enter into such a deal agreements”

Judge Pozon is the same judge who sentenced Smith to 40 years in prison on 4 December for raping a local 20-year old girl known only as ‘Nicole’. She was attacked inside the Subic Free Port Zone, a former US Naval base in Zambales, on 1 November, 2005.

The local court absolved Smith’s co-accused – Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis. The three returned to their base in Japan after their acquittal while Smith was ordered detained at the Makati City jail.

The US has fought for the custody of Smith on the basis of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a document signed by Washington and Manila and which allows the deployment of American troops in the archipelago-country for training.

US officials have quoted the VFA as saying: “The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with US military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings."


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