Submitted by Cristina Palabay
Secretary General, Gabriela Women’s Party
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
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.”
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.”
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
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”.
Office of Gabriela Rep. Liza Largoza Maza
Rm 309 South Wing Bldg.,
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9316268
Office of Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan
Rm. 601 South Wing Bldg.
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 9315586