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Philippine Feminist Decries Decision on Convicted U.S. Soldier

December 6, 2006

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza today strongly assailed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to return Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith to U.S. custody a day after Judge Benjamin Pozon convicted him for raping Nicole and ordered to commit him in Makati City Jail. Maza said, “The Arroyo government through its Department of Justice virtually freed a convict by allowing the U.S. to make a mockery of our laws through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).” She added that by acceding to the request of the U.S. to return Smith to their custody, the Arroyo administration allowed a convicted criminal to go scot-free as Philippine laws will no longer apply in the U.S. territory, which includes the U.S. Embassy. Maza stressed that this latest development in the Nicole case firmly established the Arroyo administration’s twisted priorities, which was a hanging question even at the height of the trial. “The Arroyo administration and its DOJ officials will go down in history as the most evident lapdog of the U.S. government, not even having the sophistication to hide it. For how can they give in to the U.S. authorities without even a fight?” Maza said. She also reacted strongly on reports that U.S. security personnel are the ones guarding Smith at the Makati City Jail. Maza said, “This is already a clear direct U.S. intervention on our prison and justice system and Mrs. Arroyo has not done anything nor utter a single word to stop it.” Maza strongly criticized the members of the House majority in the Philippines for blocking her privilege speech to protest the DOJ’s decision and to urge the House to exercise its oversight power to review the VFA. “The majority in the House of Representatives acted in a manner utterly lacking in moral fortitude. This Congress has sunk so low as to deny a member of a sectoral women’s party to comment on the headline-hugging, watermark case involving a young woman, a rape, a U.S. soldier, and a questionable treaty,” Maza said.