COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
It is quite ironic that Nicole of the Subic rape case should finally surrender on March which is Women’s Month; surrender in her fight against the crime of rape which is a capital offense nearly equal to murder. But in a government headed by a woman who seems to have lost all sense of good judgment and cannot protect her kind, perhaps forgetting the fact of being raped and moving on to a peaceful and productive existence is a more favorable form of living.“There is no justice in the Philippines,” declares the family of Nicole. And they are partly right. For just as when US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was convicted of rape on Dec. 4, 2006 and subsequently brought to Makati City Jail, he was returned to the US custody twenty five days later with the approval of Malacañang. “She’s stabbing us in the back,” were Nicole’s strong words referring to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the sneaky transfer of Daniel Smith.
So feeling being stabbed in the back since then must have numbed Nicole’s senses to finally leave the country and lose interest in the case as it is being raised to the appellate court. And indeed, Nicole made the compromising choice by going to the US for good. For only over two years earlier upon the realization that Smith was transferred to the US embassy, she lamented: “If I had the choice, I would like to be a US citizen now because they (the US) would defend a citizen, even if he is a convicted criminal, while the Philippines would not defend someone who is fighting for her rights.”
Nicole’s fortitude in bringing the case to the lower court along with its accompanying publicity and a marathon trial for three months from July to September 2006 succeeded in reaching a conclusion. The Subic Rape Case was the first time for cases involving US servicemen to have reached that far—resulting in the conviction for rape of a US Marine with a 40 years sentence in prison.
For decades earlier between the years 1947-1991 when the US Bases were here along with their strong military presence, records showed more than 3,000 cases filed in Zambales (Subic) and Pampanga (Clark) involving crimes committed by US servicemen to Filipino nationals. But nothing progressed and nothing was concluded. The victim’s family was offered either money or US citizenship or both. Or, the accused military personnel transferred to another base in a foreign land.
It can be recalled that Nicole, then 23 and a management accounting graduate, “accused four US Marines—Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood, Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sgt. Chad Carpentier—of conspiring to rape her in a van in the evening of Nov. 1, 2005 at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.” Nicole was drunk when carried by Smith into the van and then taken advantaged by him, after which she was dumped on the pavement.
Now Nicole has recanted in a sworn statement dated March 12, 2009, to the effect that she was too drunk to be exact of the “sequence of events in Subic last November of 2005 really occurred the way the court found them to have happened.” Nicole and her family are simply “tired of the case”—what with the media hounding on her, our government betraying her, our justice system failing her, and even the cause-oriented groups capitalizing on her case.
In the end; victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and those who sacrifice themselves in the search for justice in this country are ultimately left to fend for themselves.