12 February 2009

Reference: Joms Salvador, Spokesperson, 371-2302 / 01989182150


The militant women’s group GABRIELA said that the detention of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith within Philippine territory is non-negotiable.

“It is in the interest of justice that a criminal like Smith be punished to the full extent of the law. While we welcome the Supreme Court’s decision that Smith be transferred in a facility under Philippine authorities, it falls short in rendering justice by subjecting Smith’s detention to precondition such as negotiation, “said Joms Salvador, spokesperson of GABRIELA.

This was in reaction to the Supreme Court (SC) decision ordering the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to negotiate with representatives of the United States regarding the detention facility of Smith who remains in the US Embassy.

On the other hand, GABRIELA decried the SC’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), maintaining that the VFA is a one-sided agreement that violates Philippine sovereignty
and legal due process.

“In the first place, Smith should have long been detained in a Philippine jail, and justice would have been long served, if it were not for the ambiguous provision of the VFA regarding custody,” said Salvador.

“While Article V Section 10 of the VFA states that Philippine authorities should detain US personnel, it is unclear whether the detention facility should be within Philippine territory. Thus, it can be interpreted, as already done by Smith’s camp of late, that his detention in the US embassy is perfectly valid and legal,” said Salvador.

The women’s group also noted that the SC’s order for the DFA to renegotiate with US authorities subjects Smith’s detention to further dispute and may even result to his continued detention within US territory, given what it describes as “the Philippine government’s utter subservience to the US government.”

GABRIELA said they will push for Smith’s immediate transfer to a Philippine prison, while continuing to exhaust all other means to junk the VFA. ###
GABRIELA Philippines
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23

GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women’s organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.