Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Logs In Our Own Eye

They are baying for the blood of US Marine Daniel Smith but it is really Uncle Sam that they want dead. The Subic Rape Case has entered Act II in which the Lynch Mob zeroes in on its true target -- the Visiting Forces Agreement, and readjusts its tactics to the changed conditions on the battle field. Nicole herself seems happy enough with the One Guilty Three Innocent verdict of Makati RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon. But of course the Lynch Mob sees the glass as only a quarter full, if that. Wearing the holy robes of Nationalist Sovereignty they have enormously flattered Makati Judge, Ben Pozon, with editorials and cartoons, whilst anyone who dares to uphold the Law as well as bilateral agreements between America and the Philippines -- is either Little Brown Brother to Uncle Sam or Eager Beavers for Ambassador Kirstie Kenney. How well they have learned the art and science of Yellow Journalism from William Randolph Hearst. Today's motto is, Do unto Others what they have done unto you.

The ironic thing is that these are the same people who are outraged at the brazen attempt of the House Majority to change the Rules in the middle of the game. So, what do they want to do about VFA and its so-called "controversial provisions?"

Ahem! They want the Philippines to first, UNILATERALLY ABROGATE the Visting Forces Agreement in order to IMMEDIATELY RENEGOTIATE it. Isn't that exactly what the Lower House Majority just tried to do: unilaterally convene a CON-ASS to renegotiate the Social Contract with a now enraged Public?

Talk about moral inconsistency revealing the ideological warp of our nationalists beating their chests over supposed slights to our sovereignty due to the VFA. Yet here is another irony. Or paradox. Of the 3000 rapes that Pinoys have done unto Pinays since November 1, 2005, (the National Statistics Coordination Board's numbers), how many have gotten the speedy justice that Nicole has apparently gotten under the Visiting Forces Agreement--with its one year period to get to exactly where they are now ahead of the agreed upon schedule? It seems to me that the VFA is working except for those who want to use Daniel Smith the way they used Nicole.

Who exactly are the Lynch Mob?

I don't know because some are mostly anonymous editorialists of the biggest broadsheet (or to take seriously the official line on anonymity of editorials, its corporate personality with the mouth of an ombudsman-consigliere, who, like Vic Agustin is allegedly on the pa...)

The "warm bodies" for the Lynch Mob are not however the "objective journalists and editorialists" esconced in their airconditioned offices, spouting press freedom and patriotic justice. The soldati of the Lynch Mob are professional Left activists and femme-ideologicians. The Church of Ideological Victimology that draws so many good hearts fed warped ideas. These folks are also largely anonymous.

Of course, this IS still a FREE country and I would defend the right of Leftists and their Media comrades to say and do whatever they want, on the Subic Rape Case. MY LIBERTY IS YOUR LIBERTY! But I wonder...how good is the aim of the Lynch Mob?

Especially with these logs in our own eye?


Carlo H. Conde wrote in the International Herald Tribune exactly a year ago this week this piece on Filipino Children Behind Bars. There is also Preda and Fr. Shay Cullen's advocacy. It is a thing that became a CNN News report and will probably go into reruns as the Lynch Mob battles for custody of the convict, William McKinley, err...Daniel Smith.

I thought perhaps those who might be incited by the stuff they read in the Philippine Daily Inquirer will consider this aspect of Reality as they hyperventilate about the urgent importance of putting the American rapist in with the Filipino rapists so that he can experience the same "awful" conditions they do!

Previous Posts on Subic Rape Case:

What Nicole Doesn't Know
Six US Marines Held for Raping a Filipina in Subic
Visiting Forces Aggrievement
The Left and the Trapos United
Anti-VFA Forces Fall Silent For Now
Angst of the VFA Abrogationists
A Little Yellow Journalism
Exploiting Nicole

20 comments:

manuelbuencamino said...

DJB,

Actually, in the case of treaties, unilateral abrogation, although admittedly a disagreeble one, is an accepted way of getting a treaty renogiated. It's happened often enough to become practice.

As to the lynch mob etc. I think they miss a very important fact. The US is not omnipotent anymore, One man, a judge, has managed to hold them back, VFA notwithstanding.

In the old days, the US would have waved the treaty in judge's face and sent in their marines to rescue their boy,

The most objectionable part of the VFA, to many Filipinos, is the one that grants US personnel the same immunities ans priveleges as diplomats.

But to me, the more objectionable part is the US sees VFA is an executive agreement while to us it is a treaty. You know the implications of this, treaty vs, executive agreement. Binding the executive branch vs. binding the entire country.

I don't think one has to be an ideologue to find these two things objectionable. Simple common sense will tell you that the Philippines got the short end of the stick here.

But the US would not sign the VFA unless both those conditions were met.

There are ideological reasons motivating the Lynch Mob. But having said that, I wouldn't mind revisiting those objectionable provisions. And Deanie, you know me. I am not an ideologue. I never even played with it.

So why not revisit the VFA? Remove those two objectionables and you not only cut the legs out from the under those ideologues, you also get a better deal for your country.

Amadeo said...

Dean:

Going about it through the traditional and “legal” (proper, I think is more apropos) way of handling treaties, then “any breach of a treaty by one party entitles the other to abrogate it.”

“And any unjustified, unilateral abrogation of a treaty may give rise to possible international claims for any injury suffered by the other parties.”

Thus, how a country wishes to be regarded internationally will determine largely how it goes about it. If it has no such regard, then it can do anything it wants.

Rizalist said...

In short: throw the Baby out with the Bath Water?

Rizalist said...

Fact is, there is nothing wrong with the VFA now from Nicole's point of view is there? She's perfectly happy so far because rather than being a hindrance to her rape case, the VFA is the ONLY reason it has gotten this far.

On November 1, 2005, when Daniel Smith raped Nicole, seven to ten other pinays were raped too, somewhere in the Archipelago.

How much do you want to bet those cases are unsolved, unresolved and never will be solved?

Years from now, Nicole herself will realize the VFA was the best thing that happened to her.

Do we have to wait until she does?

manuelbuencamino said...

DJB,

what is the point of defending VFA with your argument about unresoved rape cases? That VFA is every rape victin's wet dream come true?

It can also be argued that Nicole wouldn't have been raped by Smith if there were no troops on R&R here. But that's neither here nor there, just like the rape stats you cite.

Why not argue for or against VFA on the merits or demerits of its nature and provisions

I told you why I believe VFA should be reviewed. Are those two objectionables things you can live with?

Suppose the tables were turned, do you think Americans could live with those two objectionables?

Will Americans be willing to grant blanket diplomatic privileges and immunities to thousands of visiting troops?

You know that diplomatic status is given on a per person basis even to Embassy staff. Each Embassy staffer's duties and respomsibilities are first vetted by the host country before diplomaic status is granted. Only in the VFA do we see a blanket grant.

Will Americans allow their government to commit their entire cuntry, subsume whatever local laws they have to a treaty which the other party considers only an executive agreement and non-binding on anyone except the president who signed it?

I'm saying we owe ourselves a more equitable deal. As far as I'm concerned there is no baby to throw out with the bath water.

Let's take a closer look at the VFA itself and see if it passes muster with or without Nicole.

What happens if there's a murder next time? Are you going to cite staistics on unresolved killings?

I am not anti-Americam by any stretch of the imagination. I love America but I love the Philippines more.

Rizalist said...

MB,
I will agree to oppose VFA if you can convince me that none of your arguments apply to the presence of TOURISTS in the country. And don't talk to me about custody of them, coz no one ever demonstrates against that!

BTW, it is not true that these soldiers have "blanket diplomatic immunity" otherwise they wouldn't even be under Philippine jurisdiction, even if they are under US custody while the judicial proceedings are not yet done.

But MB, are you really wanting to review VFA to prevent rape and murder? Isn't that a bit of a stretch.

Why won't people who want to junk the VFA altogether just say that instead of going the long way around pretending it has MAINLY to do with rape and murder, when it is really IMPERIALISM you're against no?

Regarding the statistics I've cited, the Americans used those statistics to convince the Philippine government that it's citizens are not used to such treatment and it has to do with being human beings, not just being Americans.

Also it is very germane that the VFA has brought justice for Nicole, but not for her fellow victims on that date and since.

If and when Daniel Smith is found guilty with finality, the Lynch Mob won't be interested in him anymore.

They'd rather he be suddenly released on appeal. Then they get on with what they really want: Philippine American War II.

manuelbuencamino said...

DLB,

"I will agree to oppose VFA if you can convince me that none of your arguments apply to the presence of TOURISTS in the country. And don't talk to me about custody of them, coz no one ever demonstrates against that!"

I won't even bother with a side issue like the rape. The next thing you know we're going to argue about murders and drug smuggling by servicemen and all that. Those are side effects of a flawed treaty. I already told you what the REAL ISSUES were for me.

I will reiterate them later but first let's deal with this -

"But MB, are you really wanting to review VFA to prevent rape and murder? Isn't that a bit of a stretch. "

I'm disappointed that you would peg your response on a sentence that I thought you understood was a throw away. You know my real points were about those two objectionables I mentioned. Be Fair. Let's not sweat the small stuff.

"...it is really IMPERIALISM you're against no?"

It's not right to accuse me of anti-imperialism as if that was some ideological fetish for me. Like I told you I never even played footsies with ideologues or ideologies. I like a republlican form of government.

I was never even interested in visiting China when it was the in-thing for students to do (you know what I'm talking about) so don't talk to me about knee-jerk anti-imperialist ideas and advocacies. I was never involved with the CPP or any of its fronts or youth organizations. As a matter of fact, although I have friends who are or were communists, they know I've never even considered joining their organization or even marching with them. I'm not an ideologue. Never was , never will be. Period.

Let me me very clear - To me the main issue is the fact that to us VFA is a treaty and to the US it is a mere executive agreement. You have chosen to ignore me on this point.

You are well informed enough to know the implications of this unequal set-up. What is your stand on this? Shouldn't this be reviewed? You think Americans would wear this shoe?

The other issue is the immunity thing. I know how the negotiations went. I know how the US and the Phils were trying to work the issue of jurisdiction long before the VFA was negotiated. It began when both governments realized that the bases treaty would be terminated and a new one had to take its place. Jurisdiction, because it is a vital part of sovereignty, was the thing that kept VFA hanging for so long.

Recognition of jurisdiction was the compromise, the bone to throw to the nationalists because the US knew that what mattered most is custody. Custody is like that legal thing about property and occupancy.

I used the exampe of embassy staff and their INDIVIDUAL vetting because, under the VFA. ALL servicemen are covered AUTOMATICALLY. No individual vetting for men in uniform, doesn't matter whether they are privates or generals, support staff or officers.

You know very well jurisdiction includes custody. In this case the question of jurisdiction was bastardized because jurisdiction does not include custody.

In addition, how can we speak of sovereignty when even a time limit is imposed on our justice system?

That's why I asked you - do you think Americans will agree to the same terms we agreed to?

It's the terms and nothing else DJB. I don't care if VFA was with the US or some country like East Timor that's weaker and poorer than we are.

It's just that when you sign an agreement make sure that what binds one signatory binds the other in the same way. Treaty to treaty, executive agreement to executive agreement.

As to the immunity thing. It is impractical to vet each and every person. Granted. But we can certainly itemize what infractions of our laws will not be covered by immunities and those exceptions should not be bastardized by splitting jurisdiction and custody.

Can't we discuss these issues without accusing each other of ideological biases? Maybe over more korean food abd sake?

Rizalist said...

MB,
Korean beer and sake it is!

But I won't evade your two points.

Regarding executive agreement vs. treaty, I do believe this was due to our own Constitutional prohibition on foreign troops being in the country. The Americans knew this and didn't want US to have any trouble with constitutional challenges to the arrangement. But what exactly is your beef here? That America might not honor a commitment made by its President? What exactly do we want them to do? Pass a new treaty? Like a new Mutual Defense Treaty?

What are the chances of THAT being acceptable to those against the VFA?

BTW, I wasn't talking about you personally in any of this, sorry if you got that impression.

Perhaps you don't feel as I suspect most of the lynch mobs feel, but they will never change their point of view. No matter what these agreements or treaties contain, they just don't want any of it and will always fight the relationship.

The inhuman thing is they don't really care about Nicole or Daniel Smith, because if anything has or will bring them justice, it is the VFA, isn't it?

We've changed in that we won't take shit from the Americans any more. That's good and I've always wanted that.

But they've changed too, believe it or not, as a nation. But not in one respect, and neither have we: both peoples hate rape and violence.

But the lynch mob won't give them that and insist that people like Gonzalez want to unjustly help a guilty gang rapist and that the US Armed Forces wants him to escape. That they are willing to do anything to win...when really it is the lynch mob that has no morals and believe that the end justifies their means.

But just as the wagging fingers were expecting a not guilty verdict, getting ready for demos at the US embassy and warning how the world would be watching how "subservient" the verdict would be, shazzam, a guilty verdict.

Well, now, the world is still watching to see what the true character of the Filipinos are--a thing found in their behavior in defeat just as much as in victory.

Rizalist said...

MB,
Here is what Fr. Bernas said in his column today on the treaty issue:
It is always good to begin with the text of the law itself which, in this case, is the treaty. Incidentally, I disagree with those who say that the VFA is not a treaty because it was not concurred in by the US Senate. Our Constitution only requires that, for purposes of foreign military presence in the Philippines, the agreement must be “recognized as a treaty by the other contracting party.” The US government recognizes the VFA as a treaty. It is not for the Philippines to say what the American authorities should recognize as a treaty.

HILLBLOGGER said...

My own take on Pozon, the VFA and the whole Smith-Nicole rape issue.

I don't know if Pozon rendered his verdict based on Philippine law or against the VFA.

The VFA consideration to me is purely political and should never have come into the picture the moment the wheels of justice started rolling.

If Pozon did his job to the best of his conscience and according to the rule of law, and thereafter rendered verdict according to the dictates of the law, that's really what matters.

Frankly, I'm of the opinion that while Philippine justice overall is not all that just, I'm prepared to give Pozon the benefit of the doubt - that he based his judgement on the merits of the case and rendered a conviction because our law said so and not because of the the political implications that the VFA hold.

As Bernas said in his column, a verdict was rendered and Smith is now serving his sentence because he's been found guilty by Philippine justice.

Frankly, Smith's custody is immaterial to me now, he may serve it in the US, in the Philippines, doesn't really matter not an iota to me.

However, I do believe it is important that we abide by the international treatises and agreements we sign. But I also believe that Judge Pozon must not be intimidated by the powers that be because he merely did his job.

Asking him to do something against what he believes is the law is bound to have worse repercussions particularly at a time when the rule of law in the Philippines doesn't seem to have any meaning.

Smith is in good hands, in your good hands and those of the good hands of Gonzales and by no means any lesser hands at all, i.e., in the hands of the United States of America is behind him.

If the Court of Appeals rules that he should be turned over for custody to the American Embassy on account of the provisions in the VFA, then so be it.

But let the wheels of Philippine justice roll for the moment. Let the Court of Appeals do its job. No need to jump the gun.

Rizalist said...

Roger that, Hillblogger!

manuelbuencamino said...

"That America might not honor a commitment made by its President.?"

Exactly. Remember the Rescission Act?

"It is not for the Philippines to say ..."

Correct. But it is better for the Philippines to realize what it's getting itself into.

Another example that is on record.
During the last negotiation the bases treaty, before it was by the Senate. Reagan made some written commitments to the Philippines. Manglapus signed the renegotiated terms with Schultz based on a written cimmitment by Reagan. When the Philippine government waved Reagan;s letter to the US Congress, the reply it got was Congress is an independent branch of government and we are not bound by the personal ommitments of any president.
When the Philippines went back to Reagan and asked him to live upp to his commitments he said Congress did not give me enough money, Sorry.

A treaty binds a nation. An executive agreement binds only a particular president.

America recognizes the fact that we see VFA as a treaty and they are holding us to that. America also recognizes the fact that they only signed an executive agreement and that is our own look-out.

Rizalist said...

EMAIL FROM WILLIAM "DAVE" HANLEY (TEXAS) --

If US military personnel accused of breaking Philippine law were subject to Philippine pre-trial custody either they would have to be accorded bail in the same manner as Filipino citizens, or they would have to be denied bail as flight risks based on their status as US servicemembers.

If out on bail, the US would be required to keep them under normal military control and now that there are no standing US bases in the RP, they would have to be returned to/assigned to units outside the Philippines. Then their return to stand trial would be a matter of extradition. The US cannot extradite anyone, civilian or military, who has not "fled to avoid prosecution". Leaving under orders does n-o-t constitute fleeing. Goodbye RP jurisdiction, forever. If Philippine courts deny bail on the grounds of "flight risk" and do so on a case-by-case basis, that is one thing. However to do so on the grounds of status assigned by another country is to allow that other country to excercise control over RP courts to one degree or another.

The same bail/no bail provisions would also seek to apply to post-conviction but pre-appeal proceedings as well. Could Daniel Smith then undergo a sex-change operation and be elected Congresswoman from Leyte? Inquiring minds want to know.

Regards,
Dave

PS: About those bozos desirous of a second Philipiine-American war: Part of me wishes to accomodate tham. I would love to make them "Waller" in their own misery. On the other hand, that would be hard on a lot of Filipinos who have been plumb nice to me over the years. So I guess I had better back your play on this matter. Why do I have these attacks of conscience? I have done nothing to deserve them.

Rizalist said...

MB--What did you think of Fr. Bernas' explanation of the point you've just raised about "treaties" and "executive agreements". It's the Philippine Constitution that required that status before we would allow foreign troops on our soil. We have to respect that.

I wonder if the US insists that we treat the VFA as a Treaty? If so, why do WE (RP and US, both) call it an "Agreement."

I think that is prima facie evidence that it would also be good enough for them if we treated it purely as an Executive Agreement!

What are we going to do? Demand they amend their Constitution? Ngek!

HILLBLOGGER said...

Dean,

This is probably why the Australians are calling the military pact they have with Pinas as treaty, to conjure an image that this is THE nation to nation accord of the highest degree.

RP-ASTRALIA MUTUAL DEFENCE TREATY which is actually a misnomer because the terms and provisions are based almost to the letter on NATO's SOFA.

I know coz someone involved in the treaty is a good phone pal of mine.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Ooops, sorry it's not a pact yet, it's a PROPOSED treaty, still to be officially approved by DND Chief, DFA Chief, Prexy and ratified by Congress...

manuelbuencamino said...

It is called VFA because the US Cingress will not allow the US president to violate their constitution which says that treaties must be concurred by the Senate.

Yes Bernas is right it is in our Constitution. Still my question remains, why do we enter into such a set-up? Whatecer it is the fact remains that our commitment does not allow for equivocation while their's has a lot of room for it. No prima facie evidence there, Just prima facie assumption fo something that is contradicted by the letter of the agreement.

The next US can president can walk away from VFA and say well that was his commitment not mine. Our next president cannot say that about a treaty because it was ratified by our Senate, It has become part of the law of our land and he is sworn to uphold the law and the constitution.

Rizalist said...

mb,
perhaps, you have asked the best question of all. WHY do we enter into such agreements? For our mutual defense, is the official reason, altho it was the US that requested and suggested, funds and is very interested in these exercises. If the next US President decides he doesn't want these exercises any more, why would anyone object who doesn't want them?

As you say, they can "abrogate" -- but so can we -- as Ursua and the rest want to do now. It may not be as easy as them, but we can, just like that with the right reason showing up.

Both countries signed this agrement for their mutual benefit. Now, leaving the rape case aside, what eles is supposed to be a problem with the VFA?

If the US agreed that all rape cases would be tried and custodied by the RP, would you support the VFA.

Tell me MB, what should be done to the VFA so that the CPP NPA Gabriela will accept it?

What would you do to VFA so you would say it is good enough for our mutual defense needs?

manuelbuencamino said...

DJB,

I don't give a shit about the CPP and Gabriela. I would accept the VFA if iboth countries either accept as a treaty or as an executive agreement.

Whatever terms are decided on is something I can't do anything about because those who will ratify it if its a treaty or those who will sign it if it's an executive agreement are elected. If I am unhappy with the terms then I will have to de-elect those people and elect my own.

But yes to whatever if we are bound equally. That's my only beef. Rape and other crimes are details.

HILLBLOGGER said...

Know what? I'm so suspicious of this backtracking moral dwarf in Malacanang... I wouldn't be surprised if this moral dwarf resorted to abrogating the VFA all on her own if ever she's faced with another massive show of indignation by the public sometime in the future (by media, politicians, leftists, rightists, center, etc.)

Gloria is perfectly capable of using the VFA for fiendish personal purpose, you know, invent an issue, create an "enemy" from the exterior to take the heat away from her person.

By creating a perceived "foreign" enemy, she could "unify" a nation. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she is already preparing for that eventuality with the VFA as a tool; she knows that a "foreign enemy" would drown any personal issue against her.

By the gods of Tutankhamen, that moral dwarf is sumpthin!