Press Release
December 23, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino 'Nene' Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Philippines should explore the possibility of entering into security agreements with countries other than the United States to protect itself from external security threats.

Pimentel put forward this proposal in the wake of the US decision to cancel next year's annual RP-US military exercises as an offshoot of its failure to regain custody of American Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith while awaiting court's decision on his appeal of his conviction for raping a 22-year old Filipina.

He said it is unfortunate and a cause of dismay that the unresolved issue of whether Smith should be returned to US custody after his conviction was used by the US as a basis for the decision to scrap the Balikatan exercises.

If the joint military exercises were cancelled by the US due to an absence of security threat, that would have been understandable, the minority leader said.

"Balikatan exercises arise from security needs. May be the US no longer sees the need for them. If the Philippines thinks otherwise, we should talk with other allies and explore the possibility of entering into less iniquitous pacts," Pimentel said.

The drastic US action was made after the Court of Appeals refused to issue a temporary restraining order on the ruling of Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon that Smith should remain under detention in Philippine jail despite an agreement between the US Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs recognizing the right of Smith to be returned to US custody.

Pimentel also expressed his disappointment over the veiled threat of the US to cut off aid to the Philippines for failing to turn over Smith in alleged breach of the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement.

"Aid comes from the heart of the giver. It should not be a result of pressure. The United States is the number one superpower in the world, and if they do not want to give us aid or do the Balikatan then we cannot do anything about it and it has to be suspended," he said.

News Latest News Feed