14 May 2009
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-3221203
On the heels of Subic rape case,
US troops continue abusing Filipinas – GABRIELA
As long as US troops freely roam the Philippines under the Visiting Forces Agreement, many more Filipinas will be abused by US servicemen. This was according to the women’s group GABRIELA in a press conference today. The women’s group cited the case of “Vanessa” (not her real name), a 22-year-old Filipina allegedly raped by a US Marine just last April 19.
The crime allegedly took place in the early morning of April 19 at the hotel room of the perpetrator, “John Jones” (not his real name). GABRIELA was able to confirm that the alleged perpetrator is a US military personnel listed in hotel records as “from Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG)/Balikatan.”
“The victim immediately sought the help of GABRIELA. Like many other rape survivors, Vanessa’s life has been thrown in shambles since the incident,” said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.
GABRIELA said that although Vanessa is going through a difficult period, she has agreed to reveal her ordeal to let the public know that abuses by US servicemen against women continue.
“While rape victims have a strong desire to seek justice for the offense made against them, the decision to come out in public and pursue a legal case does not come easy. This decision is now even more difficult to make since another US personnel is involved, and with the events in the Subic rape case set as background,” said de Jesus.
Last April 23 the Court of Appeals acquitted L/Cpl. Daniel Smith who was earlier found guilty by the lower court.
The Subic rape case is the first ever criminal case against a US serviceman under the VFA that went to trial. More than 3,000 cases, including abuse of women and children, were filed against US servicemen at the height of the presence of US military bases in the country, but all were dismissed.
“The Arroyo government’s handling of the Subic rape case from the very beginning is unconscionable. The CA’s reversal of Smith’s conviction sends a clear signal that despite the glaring abuse of American soldiers on our people, the interests of the United States government take precedence over justice,” added de Jesus.
“The case of Vanessa only shows that the abuses will continue as long as the VFA is in effect. And justice will remain elusive as long as the VFA overrules our laws and undermines our sovereignty,” concluded de Jesus. ###