Long before Nicole’s ordeal, the government stubbornly refused to listen to the voices that opposed the crafting and the signing of the VFA between our government and that of the United States of America. This was followed suit by the Senate that ratified it and the Supreme Court that declared its constitutionality.
But the case of Nicole, the conviction of her rapist, Daniel Smith, and the government’s utter inability to place the latter under its custody clearly tell us that the VFA’s oppositors had been right all along.
Will the government continue to turn a deaf ear?
Are we to allow the repeat of our follies? Gabriela Women’s Party says “NO” and reiterates its call to terminate the VFA now for the following reasons, to wit!
1) The VFA provides for a Constitutionally-reprehensible investment of foreign powers in our territory.
Much had been said and written on how and why the VFA runs counter to our Constitution. The dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Puno on the recently decided petition co-filed by Gabriela Women’s Party (G.R. NO. 176222 - Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), et al. vs President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, et al.) eloquently and convincingly provided a discussion on how recent court pronouncements in the US illustrated the one-sidedness of the VFA and its utter failure to comply with the requirement of Section 25, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution which states that:
“After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.” (Emphasis supplied)
With the majority opinion in the above-cited case upholding the constitutionality of the VFA, the investment of American powers in our territory will be perpetuated and expanded. Ironically, it was a US Supreme Court Chief Justice that said in a 19th century case of Schooner Exchange vs. M’Faddon, that:
“The jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory is necessarily exclusive and absolute. It is susceptible of no limitation not imposed by itself. Any restriction upon it, deriving validity from an external source, would imply diminution of its sovereignty to the extent of the restriction, and an investment of that sovereignty to the same extent in that power which could impose such restriction.” (Emphasis supplied)
2) Nicole is a victim of foreign power investment in our country. Our lack of custody over her convicted rapist is a demonstration of the extent of diminution of our sovereignty.
The Philippine government’s inability to exercise custody over Daniel Smith, a convicted rapist, vividly demonstrates the extent of American powers that had been invested in our country. It not only renders inutile our criminal laws but also renders beyond the reach of our courts’ decisions all Americans present in the country pursuant to the VFA. And Nicole’s case had shown that this is but one of the many consequences of a grossly impartial and constitutionally-reprehensible agreement such as the VFA.
Rape is a heinous crime that is meted the highest punishment under the law. Prior to the abolition of the death penalty, rape, when attended by aggravating circumstances, could be punishable by death penalty.
Rape is also the worst crime that can be committed against a woman. The criminal destroys the woman’s person and robs her of her dignity.The gravity of the criminal act and the personality and nature of the criminal’s sojourn in the country lead us to say that the rape of Nicole is the rape of the Filipino nation. The rape continued and will continue for as long as the VFA is in place.
3) Our government is under duty and obligation to limit and completely eliminate the investment of foreign powers perpetuated by the VFA. Our Constitution demands for it; and international law respects it.
The Philippine Government must act swiftly in terminating the VFA. The VFA text itself does not require the Philippine government to state any reason or explanation for its decision to terminate. And rightly so, as it is universally-accepted that the jurisdiction of one state, such as the Philippines’, is exclusive and absolute within the confines of its territory.
In view of the foregoing, Gabriela Women’s Party reiterates its long-standing call for the immediate abrogation or termination of the VFA. Together with Bayan Muna and Anakpawis, it had filed House Resolution No. 417 that called for the investigation of the hospital closure incident and the abrogation of the VFA; had supported Nicole in her quest for justice and had brought the VFA issue in the forefront – both in the halls of Congress and in the streets. The correctness of this position is, as demonstrated by Nicole and the many other victims (latest among them is one-year old Rafaela Polvorido of Ligao, Albay, a victim of clearing operations in preparation for Balikatan exercises in Bicol) “res ipsa loquitur”.