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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chiz asks DOJ chief to stop lawyering for Americans

yesterday asked the Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales to stop looking after the interests of the United States after the DOJ chief challenged the alleged rape victim of an American soldier to file a complaint and prove her claim.

"The DOJ is again lawyering for the Americans. Let me remind the DOJ that they are Filipinos and their salaries are paid for by the Filipino people. They should protect our interests," Escudero said in a statement.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez had earlier dared "Vanessa," who claims to have been raped by an off-duty US serviceman last April 19 in a Manila hotel, to go to court. The 22-year old university student has so far declined to pursue charges against her alleged rapist.

The DOJ secretary questioned "Vanessa's" motive in going public, hinting that she is being used by militant groups to push for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which came under fire after the controversial rape case involving "Nicole" and US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith.

"When Secretary Gonzalez encouraged Vanessa to file rape charges against her supposed aggressor, he should have stopped right there. But as he has shown time and again, he badgers the victim instead of seeking ways to find out what exactly happened," Escudero said.

"We have been subjected again to an annoying display of insensitivity on the part of a Cabinet official who is supposed to look after the interest of the victim, not the alleged perpetrator," he said.

Escudero said regardless of Vanessa's decision on the filing of rape charges, the Senate should now act on the resolution calling for a review of the VFA which governs the presence of US troops participating in military exercises with the Philippine military.

"Who knows how many Vanessa's are out there? If we change the rules on criminal jurisdiction in our favor, we might just know the answer," he said.

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