Center for International Law Chair Professor Harry Roque will file today a motion for the issuance of writ of execution to re-negotiate the Visiting Forces Agreement at 11 AM at the Supreme Court. Roque was both petitioner and counsel in the case of Salonga et al which questioned the constitutionality of the VFA owing to the American’s forcibly getting the custody of US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was then accused of raping the Filipina “Nicole”. In that petition, while the Court sustained the constitutionality of the VFA, the Petition was nonetheless “partially grated” and the executive was ordered to “re-negotiate” the Kearney-Romulo agreement to make it clear that after conviction by the RTC or a non-service related offense, American soldiers should be in the custody of Philippine authorities during the pendency of the appeal.
Roque argued that the recent grounding of a minesweeper USS Guardian in the UNESCO heritage site Tubbataha national park prompted the filing of the motion for execution. ” As far as we know, the minesweeper had no business and was asked not to enter the national park. We theorized that the US Navy personnel on board may have wanted to engage in scuba diving in the park. That makes their grounding there a “non-service related” event. The Captain and the men of the minesweeper should have been criminally prosecuted before our local courts. This is an instance where the Court;s ruling in Salonga could then apply”.
Roque in his motion wants the Philipines government to renegotiate the VFA so that it could also begin the procedure of abrogating the agreement. “The Tubbataha incident makes it very clear why the VFA is not beneficial to the Philippines. It gives the Americans a pretense to ignore our national sovereignty nd destroy our national patrimony. before, the Americans raped ony our women. Now, like victorious conquering forces, they are raping our national wealth as well”.
Roque who is Director of the UP Law Center’s Institute of International Legal Studies, acknowledged that the motion is a legal precedent. “I am not aware of writ of execution issued by the Supreme Court. Normally, it is a lower court that issues the writ. But there is no prohibition. The Supreme Court as guardian of the Constitution may be looked upon to assert Philippine sovereignty”.
Roque will be joined by civil society groups in his filing todAY.