US and Philippine authorities in Manila are confirming television and newspaper reports that six US Marines are being held by the US Embassy pending the filing of formal charges against them for allegedly gang-raping a young Filipino female inside a rented van in Subic Bay, the site of a former US naval base converted in 1992 into a freeport economic zone. A complaint for rape was lodged against them by the Olongapo City Prosecutors Office on Thursday afternoon.
US Charge d'affaires Paul Jones said all six suspects were in the custody of the US Embassy, following the protocol established by the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines. Matthew Lussenhop, Embassy spokesman indicated that the six US marines would be presented in Court following the filing of formal charges.
ABSCBN News and the Manila Times reported overnight that the evidence against the men is "strong":
Armand Arreza, administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), said on Friday that there were witnesses, including the Filipino driver of a rented van where the alleged rape took place. A condom was even found in the van, he added.
Dr. Rolando Ortiz 2nd, the physician who attended to the victim, said a thorough examination showed signs of penile penetration, and her body bore a number of bruises. Ortiz said the woman was badly bruised.
"The victim had bruises on her left and right forearms, some parts of her torso and also on her right eye." The bruises may have come from the victim’s struggle to escape her attackers.
The six Americans were charged with rape at the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors Ramon Viray and Joel Samonte were handling the charges. The complaint identified the suspects as Keith Silkwood, Daniel Smith, Albert Lara, Dominic Duplantis, Corey Barris and Chad Carpenter.
The six US Marines, who took part in joint counterterrorism exercises in Subic as part of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), were barred on Thursday from boarding their departing ship after a witness identified them as suspects in the alleged rape.
Preliminary hearing is set early next week, said Arreza. "We have requested that the case be expedited in the interest of both parties," he added.
Arreza said the SBMA is extending legal and even accommodation assistance to the victim, who is from Zamboanga and on vacation in Subic. "She’s staying under the SBMA custody until the preliminary hearing," he said, adding that the woman’s mother has already arrived in Subic.
It's a human tragedy, and if the charges are true, who would not uprise in anger and rage? And like other incidents of rape and sexual abuse involving US military personnel in places like the Philippines, Korea, Okinawa, and Japan, there can be powerful political consequences, if not handled justly and appropriately.
The Philippine Left has naturally pounced upon this incident to call for a complete scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement and an "end to US Military presence" in the Archipelago.
The thing comes at a difficult time for anti-terrorism advocates in the Philippines, (like me), who believe that there can be no effective campaign to secure the Archipelago from the growing threat of the global terror network, without full and faithful cooperation among all our allies and neighbors in all aspects of the war: political and military cooperation, intelligence sharing, logistics, and a unified stance about how to proceed with mobilizing the publics in every country for the common effort.
The latter is perhaps the most underestimated thing that must be done. And certainly in the Philippines the anti-American Left has succeeded in shaping the debate over cooperation with allies in the context of nationalist resentments inherent to our century-long love-hate relationship with America.
But global terrorism presents a new and crucial challenge to intellectuals and thinkers concerned about national security and anti-terrorism policy. It is not a threat like the old Soviet Union was during the Cold War, which has been characterized by Wretchard of the Belmont Club "as a long defensive seige" in which the West was able to contain the Soviet Union until it imploded from the sheer illogicality and the long term unsustainability of the Soviet system. Mutually Assured Destruction in a nuclear Armaggedon, actually assured that by not turning Hot, the Cold War would be won by the side with the more successful economic, political and social systems. I see the Cold War in fact, as kind of massive experiment in the evolution of human societies, a test of comparable conceptions of how such societies ought to be organized and run, in which the fitter of the two survived. The Cold War that Communism has lost in this "selection by experiment" was preceded by the titanic conflict with and defeat of Nazism and Fascism in the two World Wars of the 20th Century.
But now, in the 21sth Century, humanity faces a new and different challenge. The War on Terrorism is an ASYMMETRIC war, unlike those previous struggles. This aspect of it is very little understood in the Philippine Archipelago and is the central concept driving the development of anti-terror strategy in the US, Britain and Australia. The asymmetry of the conflict has important implications for the meme of NATIONALISM and whether there is not a GREATER VIRTUE AND IDEAL.
The Philippine Blogosphere is in the best position to open us this whole area of debate and discussion because the Main Stream Media won't really touch it with a ten-foot pole. Ka Roger might not give them his cell-phone number anymore, nor Joma his tendentious screeds.
But be assured, at Philippine Commentary on the First Iraq, such reluctance to live in the light of Liberty, and to think courageously in the 21sth Century, does not exist!