By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
31 December 2006

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is bad enough as an affront to Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity. No self-respecting country surrenders its jurisdiction over crimes that transpire within its boundaries. All patriotic Filipinos demand the junking of the VFA.

The Philippine puppet officials have invoked the VFA to allow the unlimited and continuous presence of US military forces and weapons in the Philippines under the guise of joint military exercises and other pretexts in violation of the 1987 constitution which bans foreign military bases, troops and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

The VFA is a mere executive agreement, ratified by the Philippine Senate but not by the US Senate. And yet it opens the way more widely for US military forces to stay in the Philippines than the defunct US-RP Military Bases Agreement and the existing US-RP Mutual Defense Pact (MDP) which allows US military intervention only when the Philippines and/or the US are under military aggression by a third country and when the US constitutional processes are complied with in that regard.

Not satisfied with the already lopsided and unequal character of the MDP and VFA against the Philippines, the Arroyo regime has treacherously collaborated with the US government in going beyond the terms of the VFA by releasing the convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith from a Philippine jail to US jurisdiction (the US embassy in particular for the moment).

In utter contempt of its own judicial system, the Arroyo regime has ordered the release of Smith against the clear ruling of the Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon that Smith has been duly convicted of the nonbailable crime of rape and sentenced to 40 years, that the trial court proceedings have been completed within one year, that US custody of Smith is terminated upon the completion of the trial and rendition of judgment of conviction and that the US and Philippine governments can only discuss and agree on the convict’s place of detention within Philippine jurisdiction.

The VFA explicitly stipulates that in the reckoning of the one-year period for the completion of trial court proceedings it does not include the time necessary to appeal and that if the trial court proceedings are not completed within a year the US government shall be relieved of the obligation to present the accused American soldier before the Philippine trial court.

Arroyo’s executive order releasing Smith completely disregards the ruling of the trial court judge and the pending related cases before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Arroyo has willfully and maliciously encroached upon and violated the defined sphere of her own government’s judicial system.

She knows no bounds for her puppetry. She commits high treason by violating the constitution and judicial system of her own government in following the baseless argument of the US government that the Philippine judicial system has failed to complete trial court proceedings against Smith within one year and that he must go scot-free despite his conviction for the grave criminal offense of rape.

The US government has reclaimed custody over Smith in order to release him on the false argument that it has no more obligation to present him before any Philippine court after December 17, 2006. Both the Arroyo regime and US government have shamelessly connived to take away the convicted rapist from the jurisdiction of the Philippine judicial system. ###

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