Tuesday, November 15, 2005

US military rape case tests Philippine president
Subpoenas were issued Tuesday for six US marines to appear in court later this month.
By Simon Montlake Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: The issue here is rape and not the knee-jerk reaction of questioning the character of the woman.

All the six(6) US marines and the Filipino driver should be prosecuted; if only one actually did the act, the rest should be considered conspirators to the crime. And I guess that should be a death penalty if found guilty (am no lawyer but that's what I interpret from the law of the land.)

Whether the six(6) US marines will be successfully prosecuted, convicted and placed in Philippine custody is doubtful given our history in treating offenses and crimes by members of the US military.

Furthermore, the Philippines is a signatory to the Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA) imposed by the USA as a condition to receiving American foreign aid, etc.

With our historical weakness, our Americanized minds and awe of America, the result will predictably be a whitewash.

However, I hope I will be wrong.

(see: http://thefilipinomind.blogspot.com/2005/11/bilateral-immunity-agreements-so.html.
http://thefilipinomind.blogspot.com/2005/11/status-of-forces-agreement-sofa-status.html, and

NOTE: In 1995, anti-base protests broke out in Okinawa in response to the rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three U.S. servicemen, who had rented a car for the purpose, so that they could take her to a remote location and rape her; and in response to the callous view of Admiral Richard C. Macke, commander of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, who told the press: “I think that [the rape] was absolutely stupid. For the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl.”

The widespread protests, led by an organization called Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, were not, however, just in response to this single rape, brutal though it was. Between 1972 and 1995, U.S servicemen were implicated in 4,716 crimes, nearly one per day, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a conservative Japanese newspaper.

The Japan-U.S. agreement that governs the Okinawa base allows U.S. authorities to refuse Japanese requests for military suspects, and few indeed have suffered any inconvenience for their crimes.

(see also: http://www.alternet.org/rights/19134/ and

"The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything... That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about." - Noam Chomsky

"If the people are not completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own." - George Washington, shortly after the end of the American Revolution

"Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation
are men who want crops without plowing up the ground;
they want rain without thunder and
lightning.They want the ocean without the
awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one
or it may be a physical one
or it may be both moral and physical
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a
It never did, and never will." - Fr. Pedro V. Salgado, O.P.

US military rape case tests Philippine president

Subpoenas were issued Tuesday for six US marines to appear in court later this month.
By Simon Montlake Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Allegations that a group of US marines raped a woman during shore leave after a joint training exercise with Philippine forces has riled public opinion in this former US colony.

The case could prove awkward for President Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal, a close US ally who is struggling to quash accusations of electoral fraud.

Philippine officials stress that the Visiting Forces Agreement, signed between the two countries after the closure of US military bases in 1992, has provisions to cover such cases. But lawmakers have questioned Mrs. Arroyo's commitment to enforcing the treaty and warned of a backlash if the marines receive kid-glove treatment.

"This is an emotional issue involving our sovereignty and our citizens, and we must take jurisdiction right away," says Sen. Richard Gordon, former governor of Subic Bay, the former US naval base where the alleged rape occurred last week.

Any immediate impact on US military training and aid for counterterrorism operations in the southern Philippines is unlikely, say observers. US trainers were sent to Mindanao in 2002 to help combat the Abu Sayyaf and other extremist groups.

But sensitive to public cries for justice, Arroyo's supporters say they want to ensure that the servicemen are tried here under the joint treaty.District prosecutors issued subpoenas Tuesday for six US marines to appear in court later this month as part of a preliminary investigation. None have been charged yet.

The six servicemen, who are based in Okinawa, Japan, are in the custody of the US Embassy, which has pledged to cooperate.US naval investigators are conducting a separate inquiry, said embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop. "There is a legal framework for addressing issues like this and I don't expect that it will damage US-Philippine relations," he says.

The case revives memories of past abuses by US forces stationed in Subic Bay who were shielded from local prosecution. It comes amid a revamp in the US presence in Japan, where tensions have often erupted, most notoriously over the 1995 rape of a minor by three US servicemen. (see next article below)

The US trainers here have taught combat skills to Philippine troops, including special operations units, and assisted with intelligence gathering. The result has been a successful clampdown on Abu Sayyaf operations in Basilan, their former stronghold, though the group continues to pose a serious threat. It was blamed for a 2004 ferry bombing that killed more than 100 people. Officials say Abu Sayyaf has regrouped elsewhere in Mindanao and adopted bombmaking skills from Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesian-based group. Strong cultural and historical ties have made the Philippines something of an exception to the rule that the US has steadily lost global support. Opinion polls are often supportive of US policy.

But Filipinos say the plight of powerless victims sacrificed to realpolitik resonates strongly in a nation that identifies with the underdog. The same emotional response, coupled with an anti-Arroyo bandwagon that has already tried unsuccessfully to impeach the president, could prove a potent mix."If there is a strong perception that the Visiting Force Agreement is not being followed, this could make the public think that Filipinos are at a disadvantage," warns Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a former Arroyo ally who has called for her resignation.

According to local officials, the six marines met their alleged victim at a bar in Subic Bay and took her for a ride in a hired van. Witnesses saw the van pull over and leave a woman in her underwear on the sidewalk. The woman, whom local media identified as a college graduate on vacation, was taken to a hospital. She later told police that she had been raped during the drive.

Under questioning, the van's driver alleged that at least one marine had taken advantage of the woman. The others were said to have cheered during the alleged rape, said Congresswoman Milagros Magsaysay, who spoke to the victim and investigators. Rape is punishable here by a life sentence or even death.Arroyo's opponents have staged almost daily protests outside the US Embassy.

Local media have followed the case and played up inflammatory comments by politicians, including one senator who called the US servicemen "sexual terrorists."But the demonstrations have remained small. "I don't feel that the Americans are trying to hide anything from us. They just want to get to the bottom of this, as we do," says Ms. Magsaysay.



Women and Armed Conflict -- Foreign Military Bases as a Source of Violence against Women
Presented by Yayori Matsui(Item 5 (b) Rights-Based Approach)

Madam Chairperson, Extinguished delegates,

It is my honor to be given an opportunity to speak to you on behalf of women and children who are victimized by all forms of violence committed by military personnel in foreign military bases.

I would like to draw your attention to a major gap in the Beijing Platform for Action concering this issue which was identified at the Asia-Pacific Regional NGO Symposium last month.

The NGOs at the Symposium reviewed the Platform for Action and pointed out the Gap that, while "foreign military occupation" is included in Section E. Women and Armed Conflict, there is no mention to "the effects of the long-term presence of foreign military bases".

It was recommended that the scope of armed conflict should be broadened to include the long-term presence of foreign military bases. The grave violation of human rights of women and children under such situation is an urgent issue that needs to be clearly acknowledged as a part of the Section E. of the Platform for Action.

The women and children living in areas where foreign military bases are present have been and still are exposed to severe cases of rape and other forms of violence by military personnel stationed in Okinawa, Japan and in Korea. The long term presence of military forces in the Philippines has also resulted in the same situation.

Let me explain the situation of Okinawa where 75% of the US military bases in Japan are concentrated , occupying 20% of its land where 27,000 active duty military personnel are stationed under the Japan-US Security Treaty.

A 12 year old school girl was gang raped by three military men in Septermber 1995 during the fourth World Conference on Women. More than 70 Okinawa women who participated in the conference returned home to learn of the incident. The shocked women quickly acted to expose the brutal crime to the world, because the victimized girl courageously raised her voice that such an outrage should never occur again. The women in Okinawa mobilized a nation-wide campaign and also undertook a reserach to uncover the chronology of the post-war military sexual violence against women.

The research resulted in a long growing list of rape and murder of women and children. This included young rape victims who were 9 years old, 6 years old, and even 9 month old baby. There were extreme gang rape cases; where one victim was raped by as many as 30 soldiers. Some were killed.

The report also revealed that the incidents of sexual crime had surged especially during the Viet-Nam War for which Okinawa was used as the key base. This substantiated the fact that the presence of military bases is in itself a source of threat to women and children living in sorrounding areas even if the host country is not directly under war situation.

Okinawa became the island of military bases since the end of the World War II under US military rule. The same situation persisted after its return to Japan in 1972, and even after the end of the Cold War. The untold history of rape and murder in Okinawa is linked to this post-war history.
Now we are posed with a new threat to perpetuate this violence against women associated with war. The new US-Japan Defence Guideline recently agreed will function to perpetuate the US military presence in Okinawa under Japan-US Security Treaty and require Japan to mobilize the whole society for cooperation with US military operation.

The paradox here is that the existence of the bases are meant to provide security for the country. However, women in Okinawa question the concept of security. -- "Security for whom? when women and children in Okinawa are deprived of their security in their daily lives?". -- They demand demilitarized women's security instead of militarized state's security.

NGO Symposium urged women's NGOs and international civil society to lobby against the existence of military bases and defence cooperation agreements that propell super-power military dominance.

In the context of review of the Platform for Action, we are convinced that it is necessary to include the longtime foreign military presence in the scope of Women and Armed Conflict(stated in Section E).

By including, we'll be able address more effectively the issue of protecting human rights of women and children in the next five years, while we play a more important role in contributing to creating a world of peace without violence against women for the 21st century.

Yayori MATSUI, Director
Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center
presented on 28th October 1999 ESCAP High Level Intergovernmental Meeting to Review Regional Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action

Source: http://www.aworc.org/bpfa/gov/escap/vaww.html

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