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Daniel Smith, ‘Nicole’, And Utang Na Loob

February 15, 2009

edcel-lagman-on-smithpuno-on-smith

The pressure is on for Manila and Washington to resolve the matter of convicted rapist Daniel Smith’s transfer to a Philippine prison after two years of confinement in the US Embassy.

Considered a senior member of Congress and noted human right advocate, Rep. Edcel Lagman knows whereof he speaks as he warns abput how the case of the US Navy Lance Corporal could trigger  a constitutional crisis.

SC Chief Justice Reynato Puno said as much in his dissenting opinion in the 9-4 decision of the High Court last week, premised on his consistent view that the Visiting Forces Agreement is unconstitutional.

Several days ago, this writer posited that the case of Smith presenting the first major politico-military wrangle between the Arroyo regime and new US Pres. Barack Obama.

Unless the timetable changes, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is swinging through the Asia-Pacific region this week., but the Philippines is not among the 4 countries she is visiting.

That itinerary may yet change.

What is certain is the Smith issue will not be a self-resolving problem given the the widely different legal character gthat is accorded by Manila And Washington D.C. to the VFA.

One surprise will be if the long-pending judicial review of Smith’s rape conviction is suddenly  resolved in favor of Smith and his motherland.

If this comes to pass, patent injustice will be inflicted yet again on Smith’s victim, ‘Nicole’, but on the broader, if habitually ravaged, national honor of the Philippines.

Such is the fate of the supposed equal ally of the world’s most powerful nation.

You can also factor in the debt of gratitude (utang na loob) owed by Filipino veterans of the last war with Pres. Obama about to sign into law the Fil-Am veterans equity aid windfall of $198-M.

The price of honor?

Update:

The Department of Foreign Affairs is now reporting on-line that it had begun “consultations” with concerned parties in connection with Smith’s case.

It simply notes that the SC affirmed the constitutionality of the VFA.

BUT IT CURIOUSLY OMITS THE SC FINDING THAT THE ROMULO-KENNEY SIDE AGREEMENT ON SMITH’S STAY IN THE US EMBASSY VIOLATES THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT.

DFA is not saying anything substantive except towing Malacanang’s official line.

dfa-on-vfa

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