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MANILA — A 22-year-old Filipino woman came out on Thursday alleging that she had been raped by a man whom her lawyers identified as an American soldier serving in the Philippines.
The alleged rape inside a Manila hotel on April 19 would have occurred only four days before the Philippines’ Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, also of rape, of another U.S. serviceman.
The earlier case had rankled Filipino nationalists and the new one, they said, only reinforced their belief that the so-called “unequal alliance” between Washington and Manila must end. The lopsidedness of this relationship, they said, was embodied in the Visiting Forces Agreement that governed how U.S. troops conduct themselves on Philippine soil which, they argued, favored the Americans more than the Filipinos.
In the new case, the accuser of the U.S. Marine, whom lawyers refused to identity and whom was given the alias “John Jones,” said he befriended her on April 10. The woman — calling herself Vanessa — said that more than a week later Jones met her at a bar in a swanky shopping and entertainment complex called The Fort, a former military base that is a stone’s throw from the American cemetery, where U.S. soldiers who fought here during World War II are buried.
Jones, Vanessa said at her press conference here Thursday, tricked her into believing that friends were waiting for them at a hotel in nearby Makati City. It was there, she said, that Jones raped her.
Her lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, and a Filipino women’s group called Gabriela said Vanessa had immediately reported the matter to the authorities, and that she had checked into a clinic. They said Vanessa had marks on her neck consistent with the violence she described, and that results of the tests indicate rape.
Jones, Ursua said, had allegedly written the words “from JUSMAG/Balikatan” in his hotel registration. JUSMAG stands for Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group, a unit of the U.S. military that provides organizational and security assistance to Washington when dealing with Manila on military matters. Balikatan is the name of the joint military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines.
Despite the claims, however, Vanessa is reluctant to file a criminal complaint against the Marine. According to Ursua, Vanessa was discouraged by the case overturned four days earlier.
In that case, the Filipina, called by her alias Nicole, accused U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith of raping her in 2005 while in the Philippines for the Balikatan exercises.
Smith was convicted in 2006, but the Court of Appeals, in a decision seen by nationalists as kowtowing to the interests of Washington, set the Marine free.
Further, the court that convicted Smith had ruled that he be imprisoned at the Philippines national penitentiary, but Washington resisted and fought for custody. The Philippine government later allowed the U.S. Embassy to detain the Marine within the embassy’s premises in Manila.
“This only shows why the Visiting Forces Agreement needs to be abrogated,” said Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela, of the rights group Gabriela.
The U.S. Embassy did not issue a statement on Vanessa’s allegations. Nationalist groups are preparing for massive protests on May 27, the 10th anniversary of the Visiting Forces Agreement.