But before tackling her essay, let me say at the outset that I hope the accused all get gentle cellmates in Muntinglupa's Bilibid Prison if they are found guilty of the charges against them, a sentiment Americans are expressing too, along with fervent shame, in letters to Rowena Guanzon's Lucid Interval blog. Here's an excerpt from former US Marine Tom Mather, married to a Pinay:
...I for one am ashamed to my wife, children and my family there in the Philippines that such an act has been perpetrated no matter if she [alleged victim] was raped or otherwise. Their failure [the six accused] to act as ambassadors to the Philippines is an embarrasment to me as a former Marine as well as Husband and father to Filipino citizens...TOM...But Rina David's column isn't really about the alleged rape of one Filipina woman in Subic. Rhetorically, it is really about the alleged gang-rape of the entire Filipino nation. She opens her piece by complaining about pressure from the US government for the Philippines to tighten up on the enforcement of human trafficking laws:
The US government, specifically the Bush administration, has chosen to take a high-profile role in the global campaign against trafficking in persons, alienating many governments by classifying countries according to their action or inaction against traffickers. "We need to see more progress in prosecution and convictions this year to avoid a downgrade to Tier 3 next year," Bellard threatened. Unfortunately, the attitude of Bush officials on the issue seems limited to viewing human trafficking as merely a criminal matter, and that the way to put an end to this cross-border crime is to rescue the women and children who fall victim to traffickers, arrest the traffickers, prosecute them and lock them behind bars.Rina fumes that it is NOT enough to "merely rescue the women and children...arrest the traffickers, prosecute and lock them up" because all this doesn't get to the bottom causes of the problem:
It finds its roots in the status of women in both the "sending" and "receiving" countries, the commodification of women's bodies and exploitation of their sexuality.Here a magical connection is made to the current rape case:
And that's why I have a problem with the incredible insensitivity displayed by a US Embassy official in lecturing Filipinos about our lack of resolve on trafficking, while the embassy itself is providing aid and shelter to six of its military personnel accused of gang-raping a Filipina.Here she makes it appear like the same official is discussing the rape case AND lecturing the Filipinos about their human trafficking record, when actually these statements were made on completely different days and occasions. Such are the pressures of having to write as the resident nationalist feminist...
And talking about "lack of resolve," consider this statistic from the National Statistics Coordinating Board. Every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, SEVEN women, on average, are raped by Filipinos. That's over TEN THOUSAND rape victims just since the current VFA was signed. Chances are, seven more were raped since this morning when I first read Rina's article.
Now, I bet you that those victims of Pinoy-on-Pinay rape, and/or their surviving relatives, wouldn't mind a little of that "arrest, prosecute, lock-up" action suggested by US President George W. Bush, and NOT wait for evolution to take care of the "commodification of women's bodies." (I sure hope she means commoditification) But insensitive is as insensitive gets.
Meanwhile the Sassy Lawyer burns the toast with her recipe for solving the rape problem in the vicinity of Filipino human settlements: Scrap the VFA! Honestly, I couldn't make head or tail of what her argument was other than these horrible monsters are gonna get away with gang-rape for sure because that's how the VFA is set up, for the rest and recreation of these rapacious dreadnoughts of war, don't you know? Maybe what she really meant to say was: Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water!
Paradoxically, in her next post, the Sassy Lawyer defends the rights of Greenpeace activists to criminally trespass on the Masinloc Power Plant to protest "climate change." (ABSCBN reports.) Luckily the German Greenpeacenik involved was no danger to Filipino womanhood that day, as he got a crowbar in the head from the enraged guards, who might have thought they were dealing with a nut protesting the hot weather! The guards were right, but for the unfortunate German, I feel no schadenfreude. (I don't!)
QUESTION: What drives such writers to insist that rape by American soldiers is not just a heinous crime punishable by lethal injection or a lifetime with Pedro, but a cause for us to abrogate military and political alliances?
I respect both these fine women writers who struggle with issues of vast importance to us all. But it will help matters none if we automatically reach for formulae that only relieve a kind of ideological itch, to lash out at something, anything, to express the rage we feel at the way we are as a nation: weak, helpless, poor, and ignorable. Yet, the way to strength is not resentment, for our hatred will always be greater than our happiness in that case. And it certainly cannot be attained by hysterical, indefensible arguments.
From Denis W. Brogan: "It is a most grievous emotional loss--that of an excuse for one nation's misfortunes in the actions of another."
I think we lost that excuse in 1946. But our brains are still paralyzed by that loss.