Wake Up, Philippines!

Lawmaker says: Suspend VFA if US won’t hand over Smith

Posted in DOFA, Foreign Affairs, Treaties, VFA by Erineus on February 11, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — The country can revoke the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) should the United States refuse to comply with the Supreme Court ruling to place convicted rapist Daniel Smith under Philippine custody, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.

“Now the Americans will be tested, whether they respect the primacy of the Supreme Court and agree to place Smith under Philippine custody. Their failure to do so would be a reason for the Philippines to suspend or even terminate the VFA,” Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon said.

But militant lawmakers have a different take on the ruling, which also upheld the constitutionality of the VFA.

Bayan Muna (People First) Representative Teodoro Casiño said a bigger issue than Smith’s custody is the Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) joint military exercises being conducted under the VFA.

Casiño said Bayan Muna is considering filing another Supreme Court case to question the supposedly permanent presence of US troops in the country.

Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza called the VFA an “affront to the country’s sovereignty.”

“With this decision, the courts have virtually given the United States a free hand in dealing with criminal offenders from the US military and dims the hopes of attaining justice for women and children victims of abuse and violence,” Maza said in a statement.

“We can expect more impunity now that the Supreme Court has rendered our courts limp and toothless in the face of US criminal violations,” she said.

By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:08:00 02/11/2009