MANILA, Philippines, March 16 (UPI) -- A decision to let a U.S. Marine convicted of rape serve his jail time in the U.S. Embassy in Manila has sparked outrage in the Philippines, observers say.
The situation is fueling opposition to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, accelerating her sinking popularity in the face of an intensifying insurgency in the south and allegations of corruption and economic mismanagement, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
U.S. officials say Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith has been under Marine guard at the U.S. Embassy compound since Philippine authorities transferred him there from a Manila jail weeks after he was convicted. He was found guilty in 2006 of raping a 22-year-old Filipino woman a year earlier after a night of drinking at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base near Manila, the newspaper said.
The Philippine Supreme Court ruled last month that Smith should be returned to the Manila jail but U.S. officials have balked, sparking anger aimed at Arroyo.
"This is not merely ignoring the rights of a Filipino woman who has been assaulted," Luzviminda Ilagan, a member of the Philippine Congress, told the Times, "but the message is also that we are still subservient to the policies of the American government."