Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, December 21, 2006

RP, US ink agreement for Smith’s custody

Malacañang announced yesterday the signing of a new agreement between the Philippines and the United States for the transfer of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to U.S. custody.

Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita said that the agreement signing was made "to abide by treaty commitments."

Ermita announced the agreement during his regular Wednesday press briefing at Malacañang’s New Executive Building.

"The Philippine government is doing this to abide by treaty commitments. The case is now with the Court of Appeals (CA)," said Ermita.

DFA spokesperson Eduardo Malaya said that the DFA through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed yesterday a very urgent manifestation and motion that stated that both governments have reached such an agreement.

The DFA filed the motion to intervene in the decision of the Special 16th Division of the CA to turn down Smith’s prayer for a temporary restraining order against the ruling of Makati Judge Benjamin Pozon to commit him at the Makati City Jail.

The motion from the DFA declared that U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney and DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo signed on Tuesday an agreement that both the U.S. and Philippine governments have agreed to have Smith placed under American custody. The agreement was attached to the motion when it was submitted to the CA.

"Indeed, pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement, the contracting parties have expressed their accord to the continuing custody of L/CPL Daniel Smith by the United States Embassy in Manila," the motion said.

"Wherefore the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) urgently and respectfully prays that the custody of L/CPL Daniel Smsith be immediately turned over to the United States Embassy in Manila."

It was recalled that Pozon denied the appeal of Smith for him brought back to U.S. custody citing, among other reasons, that he did not recognize the agreement reached between the U.S. Ambassador and Department of Justice to have the marine transferred out of the Makati City Jail.

In his ruling, Pozon said that the agreement should not have been made by Gonzales and that it should have been made by the President of the Philippines or the Foreign Affairs Secretary as the alter ego of the Chief Executive.

In the motion filed by the DFA yesterday, it noted that it acknowledged the "defect in the earlier Agreements entered into first by Chief Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño and later, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, with United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney, on the custody of L/CPL Daniel Smith, nor the legal basis in requiring such Agreement/s pending appeal."

"I hope that the agreement will get a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals on the transfer of Smith’s custody," said Ermita.

The palace official claimed that he expected the CA’s Special Division to come out with a decision by yesterday afternoon.

Smith was sentenced to 40 years in prison on December 4 for raping a Filipina inside the Subic Free Port Zone, a former U.S. Naval base in Zambales. He was ordered detained at the Makati City jail.

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.

U.S. authorites said they will also investigate the case. (Anthony Giron & Amor A. Lopez - Tempo)


CHICAGO , Illinois – "I am still preparing a statement I’m going to make on the denial of the appeal of my son."

Mrs. Donna Smith, mother of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Smith, told this reporter in an exclusive phone interview that she is still thinking on what to say after learning that the CA in Manila denied her son’s petition for temporary restraining order.

Mrs. Smith, a transplant nurse, however, faxed to this reporter her family’s comments on the conviction of her son. She sent the fax from the Smith residence from a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.

The one-paragraph comment reads in full:

"This past year has been difficult for our entire family. We have kept in close contact with the U.S. State Department and appreciate the efforts of U.S. Embassy officials to work on our son’s behalf, including their attempts to secure custody of our son while he seeks an appeal of the verdict. Our son has presented his side of the story in court and we are anxiously waiting for word on his appeal efforts. To our son, we’d like to say we love you very much and you are constantly in our prayers."


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