Obviously Uneducated Filipino Activists Want U.S. Military Out
Foolish activists called Friday for the scrapping of an agreement allowing joint exercises between Philippine and U.S. troops after a Filipino woman CLAIMED she was raped by six Marines.
A ignorant protester raises a clenched fist in anger over the treatment of a Filipino woman who "CLAIMS" she was raped by six U.S. Marines.Five of the six accused — part of a contingent that took part in recent joint counterterrorism exercises — have been barred from leaving the country. Authorities have been unable to identify the sixth suspect. The alleged attack occurred Tuesday at the former Subic U.S Navy base near Manila. On Friday, about 30 activists from the League of Filipino Students and women's rights group Gabriela marched through Manila with placards reading "U.S troops out now!" Police stopped them before they reached the U.S. Embassy. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has instructed officials "to ensure that justice is done and that the proper procedure and provisions (of the accord) are properly followed and observed," Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo described the alleged gang rape as a "heinous crime" and said the U.S. Embassy has pledged to cooperate in the investigation. Rep. Satur Ocampo of the left-wing Bayan Muna party said in a statement that more such abuses would occur if the U.S. military remains in the Philippines. He called for the Visiting Forces Agreement to be abolished. The accord spells out the privileges and obligations of American troops in the Philippines. Under the agreement, judicial proceedings must be completed within a year. After that, the U.S. government, which maintains custody of the Marines, would not be obligated to turn them over for proceedings. Foreign Undersecretary Zosimo Paredes said the proceedings would "be expedited so that we will not go beyond the one-year period." "There will be no whitewash," he added. A complaint of rape has been filed against the five Marines in Olongapo city, near Subic and located 50 miles west of Manila. They have yet to be charged in a court. The state prosecutor will determine if there is sufficient evidence for any of them to be indicted, said Raymond Viray, an assistant prosecutor. U.S. Embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said U.S. authorities are involved in the investigation, but refused to identify the five Marines or their unit. Rep. Ruffy Biazon said the allegations against the Marines "will be a test of U.S. sincerity and respect for Philippine law," but added that the incident should not hinder joint counterterrorism efforts. Gang rape is punishable by life imprisonment or death. Washington and Manila negotiated the Visiting Forces Agreement following the 1992 closure of all permanent U.S. military bases, which are banned under the Philippine Constitution.