Press Release
December 7, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today called on the United States government not to insist on wresting custody of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, after he was convicted for rape by a Makati Regional Trial Court.

Pimentel took exception to Ambassador Kristie Kenneys remark that Smith has been seized by members of the Philippine National Police after Judge Benjamin Pozon issued Monday his verdict sentencing the American serviceman to life imprisonment for the rape of a Filipina named only as Nicole.

Ambassador Kenneys use of the word seized to describe police act in bringing Smith to Makati City Jail is sad. The police simply asserted Philippine sovereignty by taking him under their custody, he said.

Pimentel maintained that the Philippine government should exercise its authority in enforcing the jail sentence on Smith, in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement, even if the latter has appealed the decision.

Ambassador Kenney is doing great spreading goodwill in the country. But we still hope that her country will respect the sensitivities of our people on such a sensitive topic as jurisdiction over erring US soldiers, he said.

Under the VFA, the Philippines may demand custody of an accused US serviceman if the case is considered extraordinary. Pimentel noted that even the Department of Foreign Affairs has acknowledged that the Philippine government can assert such authority considering that under the countrys laws, rape is an extraordinary case being a heinous crime.

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