Subic rape case

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People of the Philippines vs. Chad Carpentier, Dominic Duplantis, Keith Silkwood, and Daniel Smith, widely known as the Subic rape case, is an ongoing legal case in the Philippines involving a Filipina and four soldiers of the United States Marine Corps. It has caught wide media coverage and has achieved political and international significance because of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the United States and the Philippines.

The victim, Suzette Nicolas. [1] (nicknamed by the local media as "Nicole" to protect her identity), alleged that just before midnight of November 1, 2005, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith raped her inside a moving Starex van at Alava Pier in Subic. Nicole also alleged that Smith's other companions, Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier, were inside the van cheering Smith on as the incident happened. Smith countered the charges saying what occurred between him and Nicole was consensual sex. [2]

On December 4, 2006, after numerous court hearings over the course of a year, Judge Benjamin Pozon handed down the verdict. The Makati City Regional Trial Court found Smith guilty of rape, sentencing him to reclusion perpetua, while the three others were acquitted. [3]



It all started when US Navy Petty Officer Christopher Mills invited Nicole and her stepsister, Anna Liza, to Subic. Nicole was from Zamboanga City, south of the Philippines, where joint US-Philippine military exercises have been conducted in several previous years. Nicole, who claimed to be a college graduate, befriended other American soldiers including Mills, whom she considered a family friend. Nicole also had a US military boyfriend, Brian Goodrich of the 12th Marines Operations Platoon based in Okinawa.

Upon the invitation of Mills, with Goodrich's knowledge, Nicole and Anna Liza went to Subic and stayed in a hotel paid for by Mills. Later that night, Mills and the ladies went to the Neptune Bar for drinks. At this point, according to Mills, Nicole was in control of her senses and was introduced to Smith. Mills later left the bar, leaving Nicole and Anna Liza behind in the company of other United States Army|US soldiers dancing and having more drinks. Forty-five minutes later, Mills returned to the bar and found only Anna Liza who had been looking for the missing Nicole. The two, then, went back to the hotel, hoping to find Nicole who might have gone back there. When at the hotel, they were informed that Nicole had been raped.

At the police station, Nicole said she was raped by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith inside a moving van while the three others, Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier, cheered Smith on. Several witnesses surfaced, from the security guard of the bar who saw Smith carrying a drunk Nicole to the van to several other people who saw the US soldiers leaving a shocked and weeping Nicole at the pier and including the driver of the van rented by the US soldiers. At first, the driver, Timoteo Soriano Jr., accused the US soldiers of raping Nicole. Later, he retracted his statement. When the US soldiers were questioned, they denied the charges. Smith claimed that he and Nicole had had consensual sex. [4]

As soon as the Philippine Department of Justice started working on the case, it became clear that the rape case and the custody issue of the US soldiers had political significance. During the course of trial, in accordance with the terms of the VFA, the accused were in the custody of the US Embassy. Throughout the trial, the issue of U.S. vs. Philippine custody on the accused U.S. Marines was the focus of street demonstrations and protests by political groups and women's rights advocates, and it was a hot news item in the Philippine press. [5]>

Rape in the Philippines

Rape in Philippine Jurisprudence is considered a criminal offense. In Philippine society, it is a heinous crime punishable by life imprisonment.

The law

The Anti-Rape Law of 1997, which amended the previous definition of rape as defined in the Revised Penal Code of 1930, now defines the crime of rape as follows:

Article 266-A. Rape: When And How Committed. - Rape is committed:

1) By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
a) Through force, threat, or intimidation;
b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;
c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and
d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.
2) By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another person's mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.<Ref name=RA8353>

The Anti-Rape Law of 1997. Chanrobles Law Library (1997-09-30). Retrieved on 2006-12-20.</Ref> }}

Application to this case

On December 4, 2006, based on the evidences and witnesses' testimonies during the trial, the Makati Regional Trial Court found Lance Corporal Daniel Smith guilty of rape against Nicole. Under article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 [6], the court sentenced Smith to reclusion perpetua and ordered his temporary detention at the Makati City jail. [7] The custody issue was brought up by the US embassy in Manila and the Philippine Justice and Foreign Affairs departments. An agreement was then signed that as the case was not final and closed because it could be brought up to the Philippine Court of Appeals, the custody of Smith should be transferred back to the US embassy in keeping with the provisions of the VFA. The Makati Regional Trial Court reiterated its decision to detain Smith at the city jail temporarily. [8]

The custody issue was brought up to the Philippine Court of Appeals and on January 4, 2007, the court said that the dispute could not be decided upon because a new agreement that had resulted in Smith's midnight transfer back to the US Embassy had rendered the case moot. The agreement referred was that signed by Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney on December 22 stating that Smith should be held at the US Embassy compound. Smith was transferred back to the US Embassy on December 29--seven days after the agreement had been signed. [9]

The appellate court also affirmed Judge Benjamin Pozon's decision to detain Smith at the city jail temporarily. The court upheld Philippine exclusive jurisdiction over a convict and that the convict should be detained in a Philippine facility. By this decision, the court asserted the power of the Philippine government over US troops. As much as the court found itself disagreeing with the Executive (government)|executive branch of the Philippine Government and the US Embassy on the custody issue, it decided to leave it up to the government to decide. [9]

Appellate court Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. wrote in his 38-page ruling: "Courts may not directly intervene in the exercise of diplomacy no matter how proudly or meekly, strongly or weakly, such exercise may be conducted by the appropriate political organ of government." Explaining this, Brusales paraphrased former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. by saying " Justice Holmes once wisely observed, the other branches of Government are the ultimate guardians of the liberties and welfare of the people in quite as great a degree as the courts." The Court of Appeals cited the case of Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Co. vs. May as the source of the quote. It developed, however, that Holmes had actually written it as "...legislatures are ultimate guardians of the liberties and welfare of the people in quite as great a degree as the courts." [10] The quote, apparently, originated from a dissenting opinion written by Justice John Marshall Harlan II|John M. Harlan II, wherein he quoted Holmes as if the word "legislatures" meant the "other branches of the Government". [11] [12] [13] [14]

While the appellate court found the case moot that is not worthy of discussion, others believe that the case is still open for discussions and debates. [15]

The Subic Rape Case and the custody issue are expected to reach the Supreme Court of the Philippines.


Visiting Forces Agreement

The Visiting Forces Agreement is a 1999 agreement between the Philippines and the United States. The basis of the VFA is the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. Both countries had agreed that when one was in imminent danger, the other should be responsible to defend the former. Among other items, the VFA addresses treatment of personnel from one signatory who are accused of having committed crimes while visiting the territory of the other signatory. Partly as a result of the controversy growing out of this case, especially on the custody issue, the Philippine Congress is considering terminating the VFA. [16] On January 09, 2006, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced a draft resolution calling for the Senate to conduct inquiries into the matter [17] After first reading on January 16, 2006, the resolution was referred to two Senate committees. [18]

Philippine-American relations

As the Philippine government struggles with sovereignity and jurisdiction over convicted US soldiers on crimes committed in Philippine soil, the US strongly reiterates Philippine obligations to keep up with the VFA. When Smith was incarcerated under Philippine custody, the US announced the cancellation of Balikatan 2007 (a joint US/RP military exercise which had been previously scheduled). After the Philippine government had surrendered Smith back to US custody, the US government later announced the resumption of the Balikatan 2007 exercise. The US is the biggest trading partner of the Philippines. It is also the biggest military and development aid donor to this former US colony.


  1. ^ "US marine gets 40 years for Philippines rape",, 2006-12-04. Retrieved on 2007-01-29.
  2. ^ Collected Articles: The Subic Rape Case. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
  3. ^ Torres, Tetch (2006-12-04). US Marine guilty of raping Filipina, 3 others acquitted. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
  4. ^ The Subic Rape Case. Nicole Information Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-01-22.
  5. "Special Feature - The Subic Rape Case", The Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved on 2007-01-22.
  6. ^ a b The Anti-Rape Law of 1997. Chanrobles Law Library (1997-09-30). Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
  7. ^ Torres, Tetch. "US Marine guilty of raping Filipina, 3 others acquitted", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2006-12-04. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  8. ^ Quismundo, Tarra. "Judge junks US demand; Smith stays in jail", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2006-12-14. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  9. ^ a b "Court of Appeals: Custody issue moot", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2007-01-04. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  10. ^ Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Co. v. May 194 U.S. 267 (1904)
  11. ^ Flast v. Cohen 392 U.S. 83 (1968)
  12. ^ "CA justice says misquote was inadvertent", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2007-01-13. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  13. ^ Ricardo Puno Jr.. "Postscript to Smith: Falsification?", ABS-CBN Interactive, 2007-01-23. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  14. ^ Rene Saguisag. "Verify your quotations", Manila Times, 2007-01-19. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  15. ^ Jimenez-David, Rina. "At large: Moot?", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2007-01-07. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  16. ^ Philip C. Tubeza; Michael Lim Ubac (2006-01-19). Angry lawmakers in Senate, House move to terminate VFA. Philippine Daily inquirer. Retrieved on 2006-12-20.
  17. ^ Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (2006-01-09). Resolution 408-2006 (pdf). Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  18. ^ Status of SRN 408-2006. Retrieved on 2007-01-26.

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