Press Release
December 23, 2006


Senator Panfilo Lacson today raised a howl over the arrogance and political blackmail being imposed upon by the United States government on the Philippine republic with the cancellation of the Balikatan exercises and its suspension of economic and military aid to the country.

The country's policy makers would be well advised not to be cowed by this arrogant political blackmail being committed by the United States government against an equally sovereign state over an issue that involves our own justice system, Lacson said.

The US move to cancel the Balikatan joint military exercises came at the heels of a legal battle over which country should have custody of L/Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was found guilty by a Makati court of raping a 23-year old woman in Subic in November last year.

While the executive branch is doing its part to expeditiously get a favorable judicial interpretation of the Visiting Forces Agreement provision on the Smith custody issue, the US government should at least have the decency to respect how our own criminal justice system works, Lacson said.

The VFA governs the conduct of visiting US forces in the Philippines during the joint military exercises. He said the US government had earlier clearly manifested its want to take custody of Smith and that the most recent pronouncement coming from US Pacific forces commander William Fallon is obviously an underhanded move to obtain their objective.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines depend heavily on the joint exercises with US forces for the acquisition of surplus military equipment and defense materiele.

Lacson said this undesirable incident should serve as a test to the national leadership not only for Malacanang but for all of the country's policy makers. 'Let us not surrender our country's sovereignty and dignity in the face of a threatening super power. If we cave in to this threat, we have no business talking about self-respect and love for our country, Lacson said.

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