Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NR0118: Solon decries US Embassy's snub as brazen mockery of the Philippine legal system

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602.
Lisa C. Ito, Public Information Officer
Cellphone number 09277967006, 931-6615
News Release: January 18, 2006. Wednesday

Solon decries US Embassy’s snub as brazen mockery of the Philippine legal system, but says
“House’s Consti’s Cha-cha proposals on foreign troops is an abomination worse than the VFA”

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran expressed his “indignation of the highest degree” at the US Embassy’s refusal to relinquish custody of four American G.I.s wanted in the Subic rape case, saying that this case has proved the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to be “brazenly inimical to national interest and the protection of human rights and should be terminated once and for all”.

The activist solon also warned that the implications of the changes incorporated by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments in the Charter are far worse than the VFA in terms of allowing foreign troops to run roughshod over the rights of Filipinos.

“Under the Charter Change that Mrs. Arroyo’s allies here in Congress want, more foreign troops and bases can be called in at the snap of a finger,” Beltran said, citing the House Committee’s deletion of the Transitory Provision’s Section 25, which prohibits the presence of foreign troops, military bases, or facilities in the country in the except through a treaty duly concurred by the Senate and the contracting party. “This is far worse than the VFA because it throws all regulations into the entry and conduct of foreign troops to the winds. The VFA is bad enough, but the Charter Change that promises the US an economic and military stranglehold over the Philippines is the ultimate and damning abomination,” Beltran said.

“I am sad to say that what has transpired so far has deteriorated into outright mockeries of the Philippine legal system. Four foreign soldiers are out scot-free even if Philippine courts found there is probable cause for rape. The US is laughing after their troops gang-raped a defenseless Filipina under cover of darkness. Worse, it is our own government that is pulling the wool over our eyes and conditioning us to accept a scenario where the eventual acquittal of the accused will be the tragic but most likely conclusion to a gross violation of human rights,” the indignant solon said.

“In many other countries, our overseas foreign workers (OFWs) are being exploited, mistreated, often times unjustly accused of heinous crimes, tortured, and even shipped home in coffins. Here, our own government becomes an accomplice and unwitting perpetrator to the obstruction of justice just because the President and her allies are shamelessly beholden to the US for political support,” he said.

“These is no justice in the Department of Justice. The Department of Foreign Affairs represents not the Philippines, but another country. Dangal ng biktima at ng buong bansa ang niyuyurak dito sa kasong ito. Tila hugas-kamay ang pamahalaan sa usaping ito, tila walang-malay sa masakit na kinasasadlakan ng isang Pilipino, tila mas hinahalagahan ang kapakanan ng akusado. Saan at aling bansa at gobyerno ang mas masahol pa ang kabulagan at pagmamatigas? Wala na ata, kundi ang sarilin ating gobyerno at Pangulo,” he said.

The indignant activist solon reiterated the urgent and decisive need to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) once and for all. “As seen in the US Embassy’s tack, the VFA is being cited to make an illegal exception to the laws of our land in favor of foreign soldiers, by allowing them to go scot-free. The VFA is being used to legalize and obliterate the existing penalties for rape, especially gang rape. Kapag isinasabatas ang paglalapastangan ng isang Pilipina, paano pa tayo gagalangin ng isang bansa?” he said.

“True to our expectations, the VFA is clearly proving to more and more inimical to national interest as it progresses. This gives us all the more reason to end the VFA and oppose the Charter Change scheme,” he ended.


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