While there is public outcry for justice for the 22-year-old woman from Zamboanga who was raped by six US Marines in Subic, InPeace Mindanao likewise calls for the immediate pull-out of US troops in Mindanao and the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty.
The rape case is one of the many atrocities committed by US troops in the conduct of joint US-RP exercises. We recall the incident in Manarapan, Carmen, North Cotabato in mid-2004, where one elderly woman, fearing that a military operation was underway, died of a heart attack in the panic that followed the arrival of US reconnaissance troops in two helicopters and trucks. Until now, no action has been made by either the US or Philippine government to investigate this incident and indemnify the victim’s family.
We also recall the case of Buyongbuyong Isnijal of Tuburan, Basilan in July 25, 2002 who was shot by a US soldier during a raid of his village in the course of the Balikatan exercises. The AFP continues to cover up a clear case of frustrated murder by US soldiers by claiming that Isnijal is an Abu Sayyaf member although he was actually shot when he was defenseless at his home in full view of his family.
These recent incidents, not to mention the countless abuses in the course of the US military bases’ stay in Olongapo and Angeles, give credence to the call to stop the US-led “war on terror” supported by the Arroyo government and to scrap the lopsided VFA and MDT. US troops, who arrogate upon themselves the role of “countering terrorism,” are in fact the ones sowing terror, indignity and violence to our people and communities where these exercises are held.
The rape incident brings to mind the many incidences of sexual violence committed by US soldiers during the US bases’ stay. As the GABRIELA organization had reported, there were 82 cases of sexual abuses against women and 15 cases against children perpetrated by US soldiers before the US Bases Agreement was terminated in September 1991.
The incident also echoes rape cases in US military installations in other countries particularly that of a 12-year-old girl by three US soldiers stationed in the American bases of Okinawa, Japan in 1996. The rape and the many other indignities suffered by Japanese peasants in Okinawa have
made the US bases there very unpopular and are poised to be booted out.
With the Subic rape disclosure, we are emboldened to vigorously oppose any move by the Philippine and Japanese governments to effect the transfer of the Okinawa Bases to Mindanao as reported by the Japanese press early this year. (Talks between Philippine and Japanese defense officials reportedly took place in February 9 this year. A “consultative meeting” between US
and Japanese defense and foreign officials also reportedly began February 19 in Washington to hammer out a new security pact which involves transferring US forces from Okinawa and “making them mobile and near ‘security hotspots’ and anti-terrorist operations.” This, even as there already have been media reports of US construction of a naval base in G’lan, Sarangani Province.)
The Arroyo government is to be made accountable for its impending total surrender of jurisdiction over the criminal US soldiers in the Subic rape case. By its inactions over reported US troops’ atrocities in the past, and by flaunting its support to the Bush-led “anti-terror” war, this
government has given tacit approval to the impunity of US troops in violating our domestic laws. The fact that it has left the handling of this case to the Department of Foreign Affairs indicates that Malacaï¿½ang does not want to ruffle American feathers, much less exercise jurisdiction over this outrageous crime.
While it has demonstrated its utter lack of adherence to national sovereignty and its apathy to the cries of the victims of US military atrocities, the Arroyo government is demanded by our people and our Constitution to uphold justice, defend our national dignity and stand by our sovereignty.
We do not want another incident of a Filipina being raped, or a farmer being shot, or the elderly being seized with fear. Again, we reiterate our call to abrogate the VFA and the MDT, and pull out US troops in Mindanao, the rest of the country and elsewhere. We also demand for justice through the immediate prosecution of US soldiers as well as the indemnification of all
victims of violations committed by US troops in the Philippines.
As a group advocating a just peace in Mindanao, we pledge to resist the reign of US militarism in our island, in our country, and in the rest of the world.