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AJLPP Support The Petition to the Supreme Court To Declare VFA unconstitutiona

by AJLPP Monday, Jan. 22, 2007 at 8:32 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0995 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Alliance for A Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines (AJLPP) –USA militantly support the call of nationalist Filipinos led by Former Senate president Jovito Salonga, former Senator Wigberto Tañada, retired Court of Appeals associate justice Jose de la Rama; and lawyers Emilio Capulong, Harry Roque, and Florin Hilbay to declare as unconstitutional the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for allegedly creating a "privileged class among criminals." The AJLPP –USA express elation that the Former Senate president Jovito Salonga led complainants in filing the 43-page petition before the high tribunal Friday. They said that the VFA had given the US soldiers "a class above all others" when it allowed the US to have custody of its erring

AJLPP Support The Petition to the Philippine Supreme Court To Declare VFA unconstitutional

Los Angeles - The Alliance for A Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines (AJLPP) –USA militantly support the call of nationalist Filipinos led by Former Senate president Jovito Salonga, former Senator Wigberto Tañada, retired Court of Appeals associate justice Jose de la Rama; and lawyers Emilio Capulong, Harry Roque, and Florin Hilbay to declare as unconstitutional the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) for allegedly creating a "privileged class among criminals."

The AJLPP –USA express elation that the Former Senate president Jovito Salonga led complainants in filing the 43-page petition before the high tribunal Friday. They said that the VFA had given the US soldiers "a class above all others" when it allowed the US to have custody of its erring soldiers.

The AJLPP full agree with the petitioners in their complaint that : "Under the VFA, petitioner's right to the equal protection of the laws is violated when it prescribes a different procedure for the custody of US personnel of a crime properly cognizable by Philippine courts as compared to Filipino citizens similarly situated who must undergo the procedure prescribed in the Rules of Court," they said.

"Such provision in the VFA creates a privileged class among criminals under the country's criminal justice system that smacks of unwarranted partiality or undue favoritism, not in favor of Filipinos, but of United States military personnel only," they said.

Although in October 2000, the high court affirmed the constitutionality of the VFA, the AJLPP –USA believes that this time the Supreme Court will consider the arguments that the petitioners mentioned.

Salonga and his co-petitioners believed that the transfer of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith from a local court to the US Embassy showed that the VFA amended the Philippines’ rules on criminal procedure on arrest, bail, arraignment, and plea.

"Said provision of the VFA, in immediately vesting custody of any US personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction, to the US military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings, effectively violates and impinges on the power of Philippine court to acquire custody over the US personnel," they said.

"The issue on the custody of an accused and/or convict is a matter of procedure, which under the Constitution is exclusively within the realm of judicial power...no other governmental entity, may usurp this exclusive power of the Supreme Court without running afoul with the Constitution," they added.

The petitioners also told the high court to nullify the agreement signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, and US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney on Smith's custody.

The AJLPP fully in concurrence that the agreement is based on the provisions of the VFA, which is unconstitutional, they said. The petitioners reiterated the view of Chief Justice Reynato Puno who expressed in his dissenting opinion in the October 2000 ruling that the VFA had failed to conform to Section 25, Article 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that both parties should recognize the VFA as a treaty.

AJLPP pointed out that the fact that the VFA has been ratified by the Philippine Senate, and is considered a treaty in the Philippines but not in the US, where the VFA is a mere executive agreement, proved that the master-puppet relationship of the United States and the Philippines.

AJLPP supports the movement for independence and social liberation in the Philippines.

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