Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A flicker of hope.

I sometimes believe I had seen enough of what is happening to my country to make me think of it in the worst possible way. You see, the behavior of some people in the government are often so brazen that I find myself engulfed with a recurring sense of a society spinning out of control. But somehow, I feel that not all is lost. There are still those who upheld the law and make things right.

Take for example the Subic rape case. Here the accused is not a powerful individual. But Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is no ordinary mortal either. He is a member of the visiting American military contingent, allowed into my country on the strength of a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

In a less democratic society, there would have been no way someone like Daniel Smith could be indicted, tried and actually convicted by a local court. Political considerations — diplomatic and security interests — would have intruded from the start to prevent the incident from becoming a full-blown case. There were actually attempts to exert that kind of pressure. But they did not prosper because there were women’s groups that made sure that Nicole’s (the victim) fight would not be a lonely one. As a result, the Judge closed his ears to the diplomatic and political noise and focus entirely on the legal merits of the case.

This case has placed both the Philippine and the US governments in an embarrassing situation. The final outcome may not be to my liking, as Smith wasn’t detained in any of the country’s jail but in the makeshift detention cell in the US embassy. However it is worth remembering that going this far on a case like this is not a mean achievement in itself. When law makes it hard for power to have its way, then that is progress!

On the sad note however, I am afraid that Smith’s conviction will eventually be reversed.

After all, it is the great, mighty America versus a little dirt-poor country like the Philippines that looks up to Uncle Sam for loans and every little help it needs -where a mere telephone call by its President sends our own little President and her whole government into a tizzy. Shame on it, but the quality of mercy is not restrained when it is Uncle Sam asking for it.

Oh how I wish that the government had shown more “balls” with regard to this case, instead of lawyering for Smith when it was completely unnecessary to do so. With the loud noises made about renegotiating the Visiting Forces Agreement, it makes sense to suppose that a compromise was in the works.

Despite the heaviness in my heart, I wish “Nicole” the best, and pray that in her exile, far away from the intrigues and pressures, she will truly find a new life. She was and still is a woman of courage, but her struggle for justice will now have to be carried on by other women.

Here’s hoping that there are still many of them in my midst…


Angry American said...

I don't know the case or if there's any evidence to prove the charges. I pray to god it's not just false accusatons. However, if this would've happened here, he would've had the sh*t beaten out of him in county jail before he even got to pre-trial.

Even some of the most violent career criminals in American have a code they live by. To most of them rape, especially when it comes to messing with kids, is one thing you just don't do.

Jenni @ nest to keep said...

I hadn't heard of this case before reading your post. I am sorry to hear about this, it makes me very sad.

I really relate to what you were first saying about sometimes feeling so discouraged about what you see in your country, your government. I feel like that about ours lately!

I hope you are having a good week!

Tracey said...

If a crime was committed in a foreign country, then the punishment should be whatever befits that crime in however that country decides.
Tracey x x x

blue_butterfly said...

yes that should be the case, but then the US decision to keep Smith in their embassy , is what Philippine authorities claimed was a violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) governing offenses committed by American troops stationed in the Philippines. Smith is being held at the embassy despite a Supreme Court ruling that he should be moved to a Philippine facility while awaiting the resolution of his appeal.
the holding of Smith at the US Embassy has been a festering irritant to Philippine-US relations over a sovereignty issue.

blue_butterfly said...

AA, Jen,
actually this case had been on trial three years ago where Smith was found guilty of committing the crime.
but this issue resurfaced because of the turnabout of the victim and the sudden call by Obama to Ms. Arroyo reaffirming US commitment to the VFA have been seen as more than merely coincidental.
here, the Obama call was seen either as a US signal to China that the White House was disturbed by the Chinese navy’s saber-rattling in the South China Sea, or as a signal to President Arroyo and the Philippine Senate not to tinker with the VFA at a time of fresh Chinese military challenges in the South China Sea.

it seems, your president needs the VFA more than we need him.

under Obama, the US needs the VFA as the backbone of the rapid deployment of its forces to counter the threats of North Korea’s nuclear weapons buildup in East Asia, Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program in the Persian Gulf and China’s aggressive naval activity in the South China Sea.
although there are no longer fixed US bases after the termination of the bases agreement in the 1990s, the VFA serves as the umbrella for the presence of US forces participating in joint military exercises with Philippine forces in the Philippines, on temporary arrangements. these temporary forces are rotated regularly and their facilities, including warships and aircraft, are mobile and can be deployed quickly to trouble spots in East Asia and the Persian Gulf.
i think the mobility of these forces for rapid deployment is what Obama needs to reassert US military power on a global scale, as the lone superpower.

that i think is the true agenda behind this.


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