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Philippine News Digest 93

December 9, 2006 · 

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Contents:
-US marine gets life sentence for rape of ‘Nicole’
-Fugitive wanted for child molestation in US nabbed in RP
-Child workers pin Christmas wishes on ‘Angel Tree’

US marine gets life sentence for rape of ‘Nicole’
Manila Bulletin
Dec. 5, 2006
BY HANNAH L. TORREGOZA & GABRIEL S. MABUTAS

The Makati Regional Trial Court yesterday convicted a US marine for raping a 23-year-old Filipina inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, but acquitted three others for lack of evidence.

The court sentenced Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to life imprisonment and ordered him to pay “Nicole” P100,000 in moral and compensatory damages. Judge Benjamin Pozon said the court was “morally convinced” that Smith raped Nicole on the night of Nov. 1, 2005.

The victim was reportedly raped inside the van of the accused. But Pozon acquitted Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier and Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis for lack of evidence.

Chaos followed immediately after Pozon handed down his decision as policemen from the Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly separated Smith from his three comrades. US security personnel initially tried to prevent Smith from being taken to the nearby Makati city jail but were forced to give him upon the insistence of the local policemen. The court also ordered that Smith be temporary detained at the Makati City Jail pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

State Prosecutor Emelie de los Santos, head of the government’s prosecution panel, lauded the judge’s decision. “Justice has been served. We are happy with the outcome of the decision,” De los Santos said. Outside, militant women’s groups were elated by the decision.

Nicole’s lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, also lauded Pozon for making the decision and for showing “judicial independence” despite the acquittal of the three other accused.

Fugitive wanted for child molestation in US nabbed in RP
Associated Press
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/06/06

A 63-YEAR-OLD American wanted by US authorities in California on charges of child molestation has been arrested in the Philippines, where he has been hiding for the last five years, immigration officials said Wednesday.

Melvin Edward McGowan, convicted in a California court in 1995 for sexually molesting a child, was arrested on November 24 in Olongapo City, west of Manila, said Faizal Hussin, the Immigration Bureau’s intelligence chief.

Since his arrest, McGowan has suffered a heart attack and was treated in a hospital near Manila, but was later transferred to the bureau’s detention center, Hussin said.

After his conviction in 1995, McGowan violated his parole and was returned to jail in California in March 2000. But he was mistakenly released the following month and fled to the Philippines.

Authorities found him living with his Filipino wife in the central province of Antique, leading to his first arrest in 2001 in a hospital in nearby Ioilo City.

But shortly after he was turned over to the Immigration Bureau in 2001, he disappeared again while on a medical pass to undergo angioplasty, Hussin said.

McGowan’s records did not indicate his hometown, but showed at least two warrants issued for his arrest — in San Diego for child molestation and in San Francisco for parole violation.

Immigration Commissioner Alipio Fernandez said he will be deported to the US and banned from re-entering the Philippines.

Child workers pin Christmas wishes on ‘Angel Tree’
by: Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12/05/06

ONE WISHED for a new pair of shoes. Chocolates for noche buena (Christmas eve dinner) would do for another. One wanted a bicycle. New underwear would suffice for one. Some wanted medical assistance for ailing family members. Most wanted educational and livelihood grants.

These are the wishes made not by ordinary children but by child laborers, through the “Angel Tree” project launched yesterday by the Department of Labor and Employment’s Bureau of Women and Young Workers.

Already about 90 children — mostly scavengers, domestics, vendors and sugarcane plantation workers have hung a yellow paper star, which symbolizes their wish, on the project’s Christmas tree.

“These children should be playing and engaged in the joys of childhood but they have already taken upon themselves the task of working and earning for themselves and their families,” said Labor Secretary Arturo Brion.

The 90 children have written their wishes on the so-called “Wish Registry.” This will also be posted on the DoLE website. BWYW will keep a master list of child workers, who were entered by various accredited foundations and groups dealing with child labor prevention.

By acting as a “broker” in finding national and international donors to make the children happy this Christmas, Cruz said BWYW hopes all 30,000 registered national children would have a chance to have their wishes fulfilled this Christmas. [End]

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