Duterte: Scrap VFA, Edca if these will trample upon PH justice system
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said it would be better to scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and even the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) signed between the government of the Philippines and the US if Filipinos could not get justice within Philippine territory.
The mayor was voicing his opinion over the killing of transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City, reportedly by a US marine.
“If we don’t get a fair share for that particular case, it’s about time to scrap it,” the mayor told reporters on Tuesday night, referring to the VFA and the Edca, two bilateral agreements that allowed the presence of US soldiers in joint military exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Kung magmumukha lang tayong tanga (If we’d only end up looking like fools), and our jurisdiction is being played upon and nobody can really get their hands on the accused, why should we continue with those agreements?” the mayor asked.
“It’s very clear that a murder has been committed, then, there has to be justice there,” Duterte said.
He said that the issue of jurisdiction over the suspect might prevent Philippine authorities from sending the suspect to jail.
“I said if we don’t get the fair share, kung balewala ang nangyari at binababoy tayo, di i-scrap na (if our efforts are for naught and we are demeaned in the process, then let’s scrap those agreements),” Duterte said.
Police described the killing of Laude, whose head was dunked inside a toilet bowl of a motel in Olongapo city, as a hate crime. The motel’s CCTV footage showed Laude entering the room with a man identified as US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Laude’s murder calls to mind the case of US serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was convicted for raping a Filipina named Nicole in 2005, but who was turned over by the Philippine government to the US embassy pending his appeal at the Court of Appeals, due to a provision in the VFA that the US could seek custody of its soldier during all judicial proceedings. Nicole eventually withdrew her complaint against Smith, prompting the Court of Appeals to acquit Smith of the crime.
Edca, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino on April 28, 2014 without the concurrence of Congress, is still being questioned before the Supreme Court by several groups that have called some of its provisions unconstitutional.
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