ngered by a recent Court of Appeals decision acquitting convicted rapist Daniel Smith, members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance), Gabriela and other cause-oriented groups picketed the CA building today.
The groups also called for the abrogation of the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement which they say applies a different standard of justice to erring American troops.
“The CA decision stinks to high heavens. The Court of Appeals made a grave mistake in acquitting Smith and denying justice for a Filipino victim. It has even called Nicole’s rape a ‘spontaneous, unplanned, romantic episode’ just so it could acquit the US soldier. It is a tragic that a Filipino cannot get justice even in her own country,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“The acquittal shows us that RP-US relations will always take precedence over public interest and national sovereignty. The CA acquittal is but the logical conclusion of Smith’s illegal detention at the US embassy, Nicole’s alleged recantation, and the Arroyo government’s refusal to regain custody over Smith pending the CA ruling. The US and Malacañang script simply played out exactly as they planned,” Reyes added.
With Smith acquitted and set to go home, the controversy involving provisions of the VFA on the custody of convicted US soldiers will now be seen by Malacanang as moot and academic.
“Malacañang has been hoping for this acquittal to happen so that the controversial custody provision in the VFA will cease to be an issue. It’s clear that the VFA was the principal consideration in the acquittal of Smith. It therefore becomes more urgent now that the VFA be terminated,” Reyes said.
“So long as the VFA is in place, Filipinos will never achieve justice when US troops are the offenders. The VFA and RP-US relations will always be used as a leverage by the US government to shield American soldiers from any criminal liability. Our only choice now is to terminate the VFA to prevent a repeat of what happened to Nicole,” he added.
Later in the evening, poets, visual artists and musicians belonging to the group Arrest will be holding a cultural event called Artists Arrest the VFA, at the Ten 02 Bar in Timog Avenue near Scout Ybardolaza, from 6-9pm.
Related story: Bayan condemns CA acquittal of US Marine Daniel Smith