VFA, A Way Out for Smith

By upholding the constitutionality of the VFA, the majority in the Supreme Court has done the Arroyo government – as well as the US- two favors. It has upheld the Arroyo government’s policy of allowing the permanent basing of US troops in the country, and it has given the Arroyo and US governments a way out for Smith.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANALYSIS

The Supreme Court (SC), in affirming the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) while ordering that Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted of raping a Filipina “Nicole” at the Subic Freeport in 2005, be transferred to the custody of Philippine authorities, has made a politically calculated decision.

In upholding the ‘constitutionality’ of the VFA, it avoided ruffling the feathers of the Arroyo government, and dutifully followed the drift of the administration of servility to the United States of America. By ruling on the constitutionality of the VFA on the basis that it is simply an implementation of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the assertion that it is recognized as a treaty by the US, it ignored the issue of national sovereignty, which along with national interest, territorial integrity, and the right to self-determination is defined by the 1987 Constitution as the “paramount consideration” in defining the country’s relations with other states.

Chief Justice Reynato Puno was right in calling the VFA as a “continuing slur on our sovereignty��� because of the fact that it was never ratified as a treaty by the US even as the Philippine Senate did so in 1999, despite the groundswell of protests against it.

But more importantly, what greater violation of the country’s national sovereignty is there than when US troops continue to prowl our lands whole year round, participate in combat and intelligence operations, build permanent fixtures, and rape Filipino women? Moreover, what is a worse violation of our and other people’s sovereignty than when a foreign power projects its military hegemony by using countries such as the Philippines as launching pads for its wars of aggression?

To, perhaps, take the edge off its controversial decision regarding the VFA, the High Court ordered the transfer to Philippine custody of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, but only after negotiations between the US and Philippine governments.

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