The Visting Forces Agreement the US has with the Philippines makes it difficult for Philippines authorities to prosecute US soldiers for crimes they commit. That Lance Corporal Daniel Smith got 40 years for raping a Filipina is unusual, and is one of the reasons the trial is getting so much attention.
While the trial was going on, the US insisted on keeping him in the embassy. Even after the verdict, they wanted him back there but the judge said no. Why should a convicted rapist get special treatment simply because he’s US military?
The US has a similar but even more draconian agreement in South Korea, which makes it virtually impossible for US soldiers to be prosecuted for anything. In 2002, two Korea school girls were killed when run over by a US armored vehicle, who then backed up and ran over them again. In a truly despicable move, the US whisked the drivers out of the country and they were never charged with anything. South Korean officials were powerless to do anything. Why oh why do they hate us?
Having said that, I oppose draconian prison sentences no matter who they are and what they did. Forty years in a foriegn prison for a 21 year old is too long. In some Scandinavian countries, I believe, the maximum you can get for any crime is 20 years, and that seems sane to me.
If Smith is put into the general prison population in the Philippines, he will unquestionably be repeatedly beaten, if not killed. His crime was grave, but sentencing him to a life that in effect will be torture is no solution either.
Yes, he should do time. No, I don’t know what the answer is.