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February 20, 2009

Malacanang has announced that it will seek a clarification of the Supreme Court decision for Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to be transferred to Philippine government custody.

The key point is the phrase which reads: “…It is clear that the parties to the VFA recognized the difference between custody during the trial and detention after conviction, because they provided for a specific arrangement to cover detention. And this specific arrangement clearly states not only that the detention shall be carried out in facilities agreed on by authorities of both parties, but also that the detention shall be “by Philippine authorities.” Therefore, the Romulo-Kenney Agreements of December 19 and 22, 2006, which are agreements on the detention of the accused in the United States Embassy, are not in accord with the VFA itself because such detention is not “by Philippine authorities.” Respondents should therefore comply with the VFA and negotiate with representatives of the United States towards an agreement on detention facilities under Philippine authorities as mandated by Art. V, Sec. 10 of the VFA.”

In fact methinks the envelope should be pushed further with the high court being convinced to set new oral arguments.

Witness what’s happening now: the opposing sides are arguing their case through the news media, with government sounding like it favors an interpretation for the convicted rapist to be allowed to leave the Philippines and to be jailed in The Philippine Embassy or one of its consulates!

doj-chief-gonzales-on-smith-custodyursua-on-smith-custodyThe hair-splitting must be stopped now and resolved by the Supreme Court given the perceivedm or actual vagueness in the valedictory ponente of newly retired Justice Adolf Azcuna.

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