GABRIELA Network: Philippines must assert jurisdiction after rape verdict

Below is a Dec. 3 statement by the U.S.-Philippine women’s group GABRIELA Network demanding that the U.S. soldier recently found guilty of raping a Filipina be jailed in the Philippines.

At 9 p.m. this evening (already Dec. 4, 1 p.m. in the Philippines), GABRIELA Network (GABNet) stood vigil waiting for the verdict of the Nicole Subic Bay rape case. Lance corporal Daniel Smith, one of the four U.S. Marines accused of the rape of Nicole, was found guilty by the Makati Regional Trial Court. Lance corporal Smith’s three co-defendants were acquitted. For lance corporal Smith who was found guilty, women’s groups led by GABRIELA Philippines and the GABRIELA Women’s Party call for the Philippine government to now exercise their sovereignty and take lance corporal Smith into custody to serve his time in a Philippine jail.

“We are not happy with the full verdict,” Lalee Vicedo, GABNet campaigns director said, “We fully believe that the four


Protesters demanding justice for Nicole and denouncing the VFA marched on the American embassy in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 25.

acted together and so no oneshould have been acquitted of their actions, but given the verdict, the guilty should be treated as such.” GABNet will continue to call for the remanding of lance corporal Smith into Philippine custody as well as an overall call to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement. This case is a landmark as it is the first time an American soldier has been found guilty of a crime since the U.S. bases were shut down in 1992.

As with the fight for the removal of the U.S. bases from the Philippines more than a decade ago, Philippine women were instrumental in demanding justice for Nicole. It was the women’s militant stance, their unwillingness to let Nicole continue to suffer from blatant victim blaming, and their commitment that has been able to expose U.S. military’s exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people. This has occurred on a global level with vigils being held all over the world in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Last week, GABNet held vigil right at the gates of U.S. Marine bases in San Diego, Calif. This was held amongst catcalls and insults hurled by U.S. soldiers, indicative of the U.S.’s view of the Philippines.

From the beginning of the case, the U.S. government has shown absolute contempt of the criminal justice system of the Philippines, not even bothering to go through the motions of as the accused rapists were never put under the custody of Philippine authorities. In fact, the Philippine government under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has colluded with the United States by complying with the unfair provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement, such as having the judicial proceedings completed within a one year period and the custody of the four accused U.S. Marines being under the supervision of U.S. rather than Philippine authorities. Now that a verdict has been handed down and lance corporal Smith judged guilty, he should be treated as any other criminal and serve his time in a Philippine prison.

“This is not just a case about one woman,” GABNet chair Annalisa Enrile stated. “This case is about the Visiting Forces Agreement and how it has reintroduced the U.S. military back to Philippine soil and all the issues that go along with that such as rampant violence against women. The judge in this case has ordered that Smith be handed over to a Philippine jail, but we’ll see. The Arroyo government has gone out of her way to remain a puppet of the United States [rather] than … upholding the rights and dignity of the Filipino people, especially the women.”

Now that the decision of custody is in the hands of the Arroyo government, we urge the Arroyo government to take a stand for Nicole by taking her rapist into custody for life in a Philippine jail. The United States should not be allowed to invoke the VFA to provide further reasons to keep corporal Smith out of Philippine custody. GABNet urges all women’s groups, all people’s organizations, and freedom loving people to stand with us to demand real justice for Nicole and real sovereignty for the Filipino people.

Click here to read about the “Justice for Nicole” solidarity actions in San Francisco.

Related Articles

Back to top button