The Only “Change” We See Is the Change Being Pocketed by the Philippine Government to Rape and Terrorize the Filipino People—BAYAN-USA

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CASE GO TO: Another ‘Nicole’: Filipina Accuses US Marine of Rape; Case Heightens Junk-VFA Call – Bulatlat

(Fact Sheet on the case at the bottom of statement)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, secgen@bayanusa.org
May 14, 2009 www.bayanusa.org

Vanessa, her back to the cameras, narrates her plight during a press conference on Thursday. (Photo by Ayi Muallam/Bulatlat.com)

Vanessa, her back to the cameras, narrates her plight during a press conference on Thursday. (Photo by Ayi Muallam/Bulatlat.com)

Gabriela’s Emmi de Jesus (left) and lawyer Evalyn Ursua both say Vanessa’s case strengthens the argument against the Visiting Forces Agreement. (Photo by Ayi Muallam/Bulatlat.com)

Gabriela’s Emmi de Jesus (left) and lawyer Evalyn Ursua both say Vanessa’s case strengthens the argument against the Visiting Forces Agreement. (Photo by Ayi Muallam/Bulatlat.com)

The Only “Change” We See Is the Change Being Pocketed by the Philippine Government to Rape and Terrorize the Filipino People—BAYAN-USA

Appalled by the double-news of the rape of another Filipina woman by a U.S. Marine and the increase in U.S. financial aid to the corrupt Philippine government, BAYAN-USA reiterated its call to terminate the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (“VFA”), which the alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations in the U.S. sees as the red carpet used to usher in U.S. troops, supplies, and military training linked to thousands of human rights violations.

Under the auspices of the VFA, over 6,000 US troops were deployed to the Philippines this past April, to engage in so-called Balikatan (“shoulder-to-shoulder”) military exercises.  In a press conference today, the 22-year-old Filipina “Vanessa” (not her real name) told the story of how she was raped in a hotel room on April 19 by a U.S. Marine, registered in hotel records as “from Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group/Balikatan.”  According to the women’s group GABRIELA, Vanessa has decided not to file a case against her alleged rapist though there is evidence to support her claim.

“We are outraged that another Filipina has become the victim of U.S. troops, and that the VFA is blocking her from obtaining justice,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro.  “Last month’s acquittal of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith signals that U.S. military personnel can get away with the most heinous crimes on Philippine soil because they will be protected by the VFA.”

BAYAN-USA claims that despite its rhetoric of “change,” the administration of President Barack Obama has clung to Bush’s foreign policy when it comes to war and military deployment overseas.  Earlier this year, President Obama phoned Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to express support for the VFA and continuing the Balikatan joint military exercises.  The estimated total expense borne by U.S. taxpayers for U.S. militarization in the Philippines since the VFA was enacted nearly 10 years ago is a lofty $1 billion.  An additional $660 million—up from a reported $400 million just one month ago—is reportedly set to be spent over the next few years.

“The only ‘change’ we see is the change being pocketed by the Arroyo government to rape and terrorize the Filipino people,” declared Ramiro.  “Arroyo, her military, and multinational corporations are getting rich off the millions of dollars being paid by the U.S. government to commit torture, abductions, false imprisonment, and ultimately extrajudicial killings to silence critics of Arroyo and her neoliberal economic policies.”

This latest rape case and report of increased aid to the Philippines comes on the heels of an April 29, 2009 report by Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, which states that the Philippine government has failed to institute the substantive reforms Alston recommended to address extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country.

“The fact that hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to commit rape and other human rights atrocities is unconscionable, especially now that we are in the midst of a depression,” stated Ramiro.  “The fact that the VFA is being funded and enforced by the Obama administration is hypocrisy, especially after President Obama promised hope and change.”

In response, BAYAN-USA has announced it will conduct a “Day of Action against the VFA” on May 27, 2009 which marks the 10th anniversary of the military agreement.  In synch with mobilizations in the Philippines calling for the termination of the VFA, the Day of Action will take place from coast-to-coast across the U.S. in what will be the latest expression of the indignation felt by Filipino Americans over the trampling of Philippine sovereignty by U.S. imperial interests.  In March, BAYAN-USA and GABRIELA USA launched an online “Junk VFA” petition, which garnered over 1,000 signatures in two weeks and has reached nearly 2,000 signatures to date.  At the beginning of May, BAYAN-USA also met with the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, to urge the representative—who is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations—to support the call for the termination of all military aid to the Philippines pending the Philippine government’s compliance with recommendations in the Alston report to stop human rights violations and prosecute the perpetrators.  The BAYAN-USA delegation also asked Representative Lee to introduce new legislation to stop the deployment of U.S. troops to the Philippines unless the said recommendations are implemented and to terminate the VFA.

“BAYAN-USA’s Day of Action against the VFA will send Congress the message that nobody wins and everybody loses with the VFA,” said Ramiro.  “In the face of a budget deficit in the trillions and over 11 million people unemployed in the U.S., it simply makes no sense to continue providing aid to the Arroyo government and to perpetuate the costly VFA.  Congress should cut both during the budget appropriations process this spring and summer.”

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S.  The online petition against the VFA can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/

###

FACT SHEET

Name:   Vanessa de Guzman (alias)

Age:   22 years old

Case:   Rape

Perpetrator:  aka John Jones, US Marine

Vanessa is a student in a private university. She first met John Jones on April 10, 2009 when he approached her and some friends at a club in The Fort, Taguig within Metro Manila.  Jones introduced himself as a US Marine. He then asked for her cellular phone number and from that point forward, they had exchanged text messages. They next bumped into each other on April 15 at another club at The Fort, while both of them were out with friends. That evening, upon Jones’ invitation, Vanessa and her friends agreed to go to his friend’s hotel room. They spent the whole night talking. Vanessa and her friends went home the following morning.

On April 18, 2009, Vanessa received a text message from Jones asking what her plans were for the evening. Vanessa answered that she just wanted to stay home. Jones replied that he and his friends were going to a popular club at The Fort. That same evening, Vanessa’s cousin invited her to go out.

Vanessa agreed to meet up with her cousin and another male friend at a bar.  Unaware that they were meeting at a “girly bar” and feeling too uncomfortable, Vanessa, after a couple of hours, asked her male friend to transfer to a different bar.

Around 3:15 am, Vanessa and her male friend arrived at another bar. She was left alone when her male friend went to talk to someone at a different location. A little later, Vanessa received a text message from Jones, asking where she was. Vanessa told him her location to which Jones replied that he is also going to that same bar.

Jones, along with three women, arrived at the bar at around 3:30 am. Jones invited Vanessa to go to a five-star hotel in Makati, where he and his friends were staying. Jones said that aside from Vanessa’s friends, they will also be with the same companions from April 15. He also informed her that his girlfriend and other friends were in his room.

Upon arriving at the hotel, Jones ordered Vanessa to wait shortly in the hallway because he wanted to surprise those inside the room. Vanessa only proceeded to Jones’ room when he signaled her to follow. Vanessa was surprised when she entered the room because she realized there were no other people present. Jones told her that their friends were already on their way and would arrive in five minutes.

Vanessa then noticed that were female belongings inside the room. They sat on the sofa and, while waiting for the others, began chatting. After a few minutes, Vanessa expressed that she wanted to go home because Jones’ girlfriend might arrive and start a fight.

Jones suddenly stood and slapped Vanessa on the face, saying “Why you do that?” (sic). Vanessa reiterated her desire to go home and walked towards the door, but Jones picked her up and threw her onto the bed. He then slapped her several times using his left hand while choking her with his right hand.

Vanessa struggled and shouted, “No! No! Don’t do that! You’re hurting me! I want to go home!” Vanessa fought, struggled, and tried to push Jones away while continuously cursing at him. Jones got on top of her and kissed her on the lips and chest while holding down her hands.

Jones somehow managed to undress Vanessa, but she could no longer remember how it all happened. At this point, Vanessa had lost her voice and her throat hurt. Her cheeks were numb as she continued to cry. While Jones was undressing her, she tried to stand up and noticed that Jones had already lowered his pants and boxer shorts. Jones pushed Vanessa back to the bed. He kissed her again and pulled her hair.

Jones managed to penetrate Vanessa. She continued hitting him, but he blocked her attempts. After a while, Jones got tired, stood up, and got his cellular phone.

Vanessa immediately stood up, gathered her clothes and belongings, and then locked herself inside the bathroom. Jones knocked on the door and Vanessa came out only after putting on her clothes. She told Jones that she wanted to go home, but Jones wouldn’t allow it. Vanessa got hold of the TV remote control and threatened to throw it at the TV. Vanessa repeatedly said this before Jones allowed her to leave the room. While waiting outside the elevator, Vanessa overheard Jones talking on his cellular phone and asking for security personnel to escort a hysterical woman.

Upon reaching the lobby, Vanessa went straight to the front desk where she was met by a woman who introduced herself as the hotel’s head of security. Vanessa complained that she was raped. The head of security then said that she would look for a staff who could accompany Vanessa to the police station.

Vanessa called her sibling to pick her up from the hotel and said that something happened to her. When her sibling and another family member arrived, they proceeded to the police station.

At the police station, when Vanessa reported that she was raped, they were asked to go to the barangay (village) first to get the required barangay certification. Vanessa and her family complied. It was already 10:00 in the morning by the time Vanessa was able to go to a hospital for a medico-legal examination. The following day, Vanessa sought the help of GABRIELA.

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