Sunday, March 15, 2009

Philippines: Junk The VFA

November 2005, U.S. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and three other U.S. Marines were accused of raping a Pinay (Filipina woman), tossing her out of a van, and driving away. Smith was convicted of rape by a Philippine court in 2006 (the other three—Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier—were acquitted on the grounds that they were either “only” watching in the van and cheering Smith on or could prove they were buying pizza when the incident happened).

Despite being convicted, Smith never spent a day in a Philippine jail. Instead he’s been detained in the U.S. Embassy.

Fast forward to February 2008 when the Philippine Supreme Court declared Smith’s detention in the U.S. Embassy illegal and that he should have instead been serving time in a Philippine jail; they called for his transfer to a Philippine jail, just like the rest of the criminals who break Philippine law. The U.S. government countered by citing a provision in the so-called Republic of the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (1999) which allows the U.S. custody of erring American soldiers (aka “Those who done F%#*D up while on duty…and actually get caught, usually by someone other than U.S. Military”).

Interrupting American Analogy for Illustrative Purposes: You know how Paris Hilton was convicted and was sentenced to 40+ days of jail time, but instead of serving it she was able to be detained in her home instead? Why? Because she’s a celebrity with status and money—she’s not just “cute” (so up for debate), she’s also the heiress of the Hilton fortune. Boo. Foul-play. You suck! Not fair, right? If you or I did what she did, we’d be serving our time…no doubt.

Anyway…folks in the Philippines are calling for an end to the unjust Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a decade old treaty which was unfair to begin with, supported by Former President Fidel Ramos, and put into effect during Former President Joseph Estrada (one of two Philippine Presidents to be ousted for abusing their power and prioritizing the interests of the U.S. and others before those of the Filipino People who “elected” them…the Filipino people are working on adding a third President to that list). In addition to protecting American Soldiers who break Philippine Law, the VFA also:

-exempts U.S. military from visa and passport regulations in the Philippines,
-exempts the U.S. military from paying Philippine taxes on imported goods,
-and allows unrestricted movement of U.S. vessels and aircraft within Philippine “sovereign” space.

check out this petition and consider signing it:

(courtesy Sergio/Cell68)

Support The Filipino struggle to get OUR military out of their country!


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