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U.S.-Philippine feud comes to fore

A Marine's rape case spotlights a sticking point in nations' treaty.

December 05, 2006|Emily Totenberg Green | Special to The Times

MANILA — Supporters of a Philippine woman raped by a 21-year-old Marine broke into cheers Monday when the serviceman was convicted and sentenced in a high-profile case that spotlighted latent tensions between the Philippines and the United States.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was sentenced to 40 years in prison for raping a 23-year-old Philippine woman last year in the back of a van at Subic Bay, site of a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila, as three fellow Marines looked on and cheered.

The other three Marines, also charged in the case, were acquitted.

For many Filipinos, the case symbolized what they see as the continuing colonial relationship between their country and the U.S. A clause in a treaty between the Philippines and the U.S. allowed the Marines to remain in U.S. custody while being tried in a Philippine court, which became a rallying point for Filipinos.

"After more than half a century, aggrieved Filipinos are able to turn to the law for justice," said law professor Raul C. Pangalangan of the University of the Philippines.

After the decision, Smith was taken to a city jail, despite his lawyers' appeals that he be returned to U.S. government custody.

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