For example, a CNN News World Report aired on February 1 was a second expose in six months of the scandalous and appalling conditions of minor-age children languishing in Philippine prisons. Not that the inhuman conditions in the penal system here are any secret but it certainly seems to have off-balanced Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, whose Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting Forces Agreement had loudly called for the abrogation of the VFA on the grounds that the US refusal to surrender the right of custody given to it by the VFA was a "stain on Philippine sovereignty." Though -- surprise, surprise!-- that seems to have changed a bit.
Actually it would be irresponsible for the United States not to invoke the very provision in the VFA that had anticipated this very situation. Contrary to the claims of the anti-VFA forces seeking its abrogation, this is not a sudden discovery, even for Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who signed the VFA herself in 1999. The U.S. obviously insisted on this condition -- Philippine legal jurisdiction, but American physical custody -- when this provision was negotiated, since the U.S. knows full well that -- let me say it again for the shy Uncle Sam -- The Philippine Prison System is not fit for human incarceration of unconvicted defendants, whether they be Filipinos or Americans!
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel made a good observation recently: If those calling for the abrogaton of the 1999 RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement were to have their way, the Subic Bay rape case might lose its legal basis and no justice would then be done. With the rape case used expertly as a stage prop by propaganda experts with a lot of experience at it, the battle for actual physical custody of the US Marines was building up a head of steam that culminated in the vocal volcanic eruptions of Mount Miriam Defensor Santiago calling for abrogaton. Here is a sampler of the other vulcanologists who've been erupting since Day One--
CPP: "...assails the Arroyo regime for its obsequious acceptance of the US government's decision to maintain custody of four US servicemen accused of raping a 22-year old Filipina in November 2005 ... the Arroyo regime surrendered the nation's sovereignty ...condemns the US government's superpower arrogance and complete disdain for the Filipino nation in refusing to hand over the accused servicemen.PDI elaborates for Joma and Ka Roger in the recent editorial "Unequal Relationship":
"Under the VFA, the Philippines and the United States are not equals. The VFA allows the US to treat the Philippines not as a co-equal, sovereign state but as colony, a vassal state. The agreement perpetuates the master-slave, patron-client relationship that was supposed to have ended when the US restored independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946...The US government's disregard of the Philippine court's warrant of arrest is a clear sign of disrespect for Philippine laws. The Bill Rights of the Philippine Constitution and the Philippine Rules of Court, patterned after those of the United States, give sufficient protection to the accused. There should be no concern that the rights of the Americans accused in the Subic rape case would be violated.No concern that rights would be violated under Philippine custody?? AHEM!
Scrap the VFA was posted just days after the alleged rape. See if you agree that the blogger finds a reason to be glad that the rape case happened.
What really irks me is what happened during the interval between the signing of the VFA and the rape case. Granted that despite the calls for its rejection, it was, in fact, signed. Was that reason to stop? Where were the anti-VFA advocates then? Why didn't they hang on, called for a review and pushed for the abrogation of the VFA? Had the alleged rape not happened, the fight against the VFA would probably have died forever.WHY LOSING IS WINNING FOR THE LEFT The Left sees the potential for at least a symbolic victory in every battle such as this, but I suspect they actually relish the thought of defeat at the hands of the evil gringo conquistador superpower because that sets up their favorite role on the stage of this "longest running communist insurgency" of ours--that of the Persecuted Oppressed Nationalist Fighting for the Nation's Sovereignty. I don't expect President Arroyo to do more than game the VFA with the Americans and dicker for her removal from the White House blacklist of unreliable and treacherous foreign politicians. I suspect the Left knows this and is counting on it for the next stage of the anti-American crusade: more street demonstrations in front of the U.S. Embassy; more "historical retrospectives" on Bud Bagsak and the Philippine-American War; more pious invective from the Leftist true believers. Which of course delights the Palace while the rest of us wince in chagrin.
MELANCHOLIA For these protectors of Philippine sovereignty, the abrogation of the VFA is demanded with no consideration for its objective worth in bringing justice to communist and militant Islamist groups that yeah, bring terror to this land of generally peaceful Christians, Muslims and lumads. Our alliance with the United States of America serves the national interests of BOTH countries. I can only guess at the motivations of such people. According to these folks, the bilateral Agreements between the RP and the US, like the Visiting Forces Agreement are really just elaborate ruses whose real objective is not to train together to hunt down the Bali Bombers and Abu Sayyaf terrorists, but to give their imperialist soldiers Rest & Recreation while America reasserts its neocolonial dominance. Seems like a round-about way for Uncle Sam to reconquer the Philippines. Maybe our Leftists are actually just victimes of a terrible and debilitating mental illness-- historical melancholia described by the great Denis William. Brogan --
"There are few greater emotional losses than a grievance that explains why things have gone wrong in terms of another's fault...To get freedom is to lose a grievance, and some nations have firmly refused to give up their darling experience." [The End of Empire in the Saturday Evening Post's Adventures of the Mind, Alfred Knopf, 1960] "THAT LOG IN OUR EYE: So maybe that CNN World Report broadcast a week ago did everyone a favor by exposing the inhuman conditions in Philippine prisons to a global audience, showing how we most cruelly incarcerate thousands upon thousands of nameless, faceless "children in conflict with the law" and give them no way out of the hell-on-earth into which they have been deposited. It also stunningly exposes the hypocrisy of the Miriam, the Left and other exploiters of a human tragedy for political and ideological purposes. The report was the second time since last August that children in Philippine prisons were shown to a global audience in unspeakable conditions, including being mixed in with adult inmates. (Transcript with Rosemary Church, August, 2005 broadcast). Of course, Secretary Raul Gonzales made it worse by appearing in a CNN interview, only to confirm the world's worst fears about the kind of people who are in charge. The US Government is duty-bound to protect the human and Constitutional rights of those soldiers, even if they have been charged with a heinous crime of rape. If they are convicted as charged, then all bets are off, though I hope they get gentle cellmates. But until then, PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION on behalf of Philippine children caught up in the prisons of the Philippines, which is a labyrinthe of jails within a larger empyrean of corrupt practices that is the legal and judicial system in the Archipelago at the present time.