Manifesto of Unity

Statement from the Justice for Nicole Movement

In November 2005, a young and carefree woman, a fellow Filipino, was raped and abused by several US servicemen, then dumped half-naked on the sidewalk of a former US military base in full view of witnesses. We – her family, friends and compatriots – denounce this despicable crime and cry out: Justice for Nicole!

The odds that Nicole will ever find justice, however, are stacked against her and the People of the Philippines, who are seeking the proper prosecution of the accused US military personnel and others who have so far managed to elude criminal liability.

The US government has refused to turn over to Philippine authorities the
US soldiers that witnesses, including the victim, have identified as perpetrators. Invoking the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the US government has insisted on custody over four of these soldiers who have been charged before Philippine courts.

The rights of the victim and the responsibility of the state to prosecute and punish the guilty parties have been restricted and effectively undermined by the VFA. The case of “Nicole” has confirmed the validity of criticism that the VFA is a lopsided agreement favoring the US and injurious to the interests of individual Filipinos and the Filipino people as a whole.

Philippine government officials have miserably failed to assert the rights and protect the interests of “Nicole.” The foot dragging and lack of political assertion on the part of the President, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Justice Department, most especially the Justice Secretary, during the investigation stage, have revealed the partiality of the Arroyo government for the accused US military personnel and against the victim herself and the Filipino people, who stand as aggrieved parties in this case.

The Arroyo government has not rendered meaningful moral, political and financial-material support for the victim after the discovery of the crime and up until the ongoing trial at the Makati Regional Trial Court.

Only the extensive coverage of the trial by the Philippine mass media, the sustained protest of progressive people’s organizations and women’s groups, the all-around support rendered by individual professionals and women’s rights advocates and public sympathy have helped balance the dangerously lopsided situation against Nicole.

Thus we, women and men in the Justice for Nicole Movement, pledge our unwavering commitment to support Nicole in her fight for justice. In the process, we also affirm our determination to uphold our dignity and right as a sovereign people.

(The Justice for Nicole Movement is an alliance of sororities and women’s organizations.)


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