Press Release
February 20, 2009

Chiz: Secret deal with US necessitates VFA be scrapped

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero slammed yesterday the continued subservience of the Philippine government to the interests of the US.

His comments come after Sen. Joker Arroyo revealed that Manila entered into a "complemental agreement" with Washington more than a decade ago that contains guidelines covering the detention of Filipino and American soldiers.

"Why was this secret pact not shown to the Senate when it was entered into? Who authorized it? And why is it only being revealed now?" he asked.

This particular agreement, which eventually became part of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), was signed on Oct. 9, 1998 by then US ambassador Thomas C. Hubbard and former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Domingo Siazon, Jr.

"The one-sided relationship between the two countries gives our government all the more reason to terminate the VFA as soon as possible," he added.

With the future of convicted rapist US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith continuing to be a polarizing issue, Arroyo's disclosure is likely to further increase calls for the scrapping of the VFA.

It also comes after a recent Supreme Court decision that Smith be placed under the custody of the Philippine government.

Escudero is just one of several senators who have crossed party lines to seek either a review or termination of the VFA, since some of its provisions are believed by many Filipinos to favor visiting American soldiers.

Other members of the opposition and nationalist blocs have also demanded that Smith should be subjected to Philippine laws since he committed a crime in the Philippines while not on military duty.

They have stressed that Smith should not continue to remain under the custody of the US embassy but rather be jailed immediately at the national penitentiary pending the result of his appeal.

"It is a ruling that should be executed, not negotiated."

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that the VFA does not violate the Philippine constitution, Malacañang has indicated its willingness to review the agreement. However, it steadfastly refuses to abrogate the VFA.

The US embassy said earlier that it will refer the matter to Washington's legal experts, while DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo continues to hold talks with US ambassador Kristie Kenney on what steps can be taken to address the issue.

The VFA has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since it was crafted. Its political implications have vexed host nations, especially when service members are involved in crimes.

Smith and three others were charged with raping a woman they had been drinking with in Subic. The three were eventually acquitted.

The political issue of the VFA is complicated by the fact that many host countries have mixed feelings about foreign troops on their soil, and demands to renegotiate the VFA are often combined with calls for foreign troops to leave entirely.

News Latest News Feed