SF Protest over Philippines Rape Case
November 28, 2006 1:02 AM
A rape trial involving four U.S. Marines in the Philippines prompted a protest in San Francisco’s Civic Center late Monday afternoon.
Nearly three-dozen Filipino and women’s rights activists gathered in front of the Phillip Burton Federal Building to call attention to the situation in the Philippines, where the servicemen are charged with the gang-rape of a Filipina woman in the back of a van while on leave from joint-military exercises last year.
Charm Consolacion, Vice-Chair of the League of Filipino Students at SF State said that she and others in the Filipino-American community are anxious to hear about what is really happening in their homeland.
“We as Filipino Americans need to be more aware of these things,” Consolacion said, “especially with the military presence in the country.”
The four month trial has been plagued with allegations by the 23 year-old accuser, known by the pseudonym Nicole, of incompetence on the part of prosecutors. A verdict in the case, expected shortly before the march, was postponed for another week.
“This is a really messed up, fucked up case,” said Lolan Sevilla, Mass Campaigns Director for babea, a Filipina-feminist organization.
The protestors expressed their support for the alleged victim and disgust for what they viewed as preferential treatment for the Marines by the Filipino government under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“We’re outraged with the way its been handled,” said Marisa Mariano, Secretary General of babea. “The Filipino government isn’t in support of justice for Nicole. They are making deals in support of the Marines.”
The demonstrators chanted “Justice for Nicole!” and called on the Filipino government to end to the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows US troops to join Filipino troops in joint exercises on a temporary basis and prevents the Philippines from taking custody of any U.S. service member accused of a crime on Philippine soil (the four Marines are currently in the custody of the U.S. Embassy).
Mariano said that crimes against women have increased in the Philippines since U.S. forces entered the country.
“Numerous cases have been brought to the forefront, even if they were never brought to trial,” Mariano said.
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