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At What Price Justice? (Updated)

March 17, 2009

UPDATE:

suzette-nicolas-sombilon1

UNVEILING Suzette S. Nicolas, erstwhile known publicly only as ‘Nicole,’ has submitted a shocking affidavit to the court. At right is Daniel Smith in a photo taken three years ago. PDI PHOTO FILE

The Philippine Daily Inquirer is now reporting Suzette’s recantation:

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090318-194696/Nicole-recants-clears-Smith

With due credits to the PDI, Filipinos are now seeing the face of the victim whose fight for honor many of them. including this writer, took up.

The recantation affidavit of Sezette Sombilon Nicolas, submitted to the Court of Appeals on March 17, 2009  reads:

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
CITY OF MAKATI
SWORN STATEMENT
I, (NAME WITHHELD), of legal age, Filipino, a resident of Zamboanga City, after being duly sworn in accordance with law, hereby depose and state:
1. I am a Bachelor of Science graduate, major in Management Accounting, of the Ateneo de Davao University. Soon after my graduation, I took up nursing in 2004 at the Ateneo de Zamboanga City and at the same time assisted in managing our family owned canteen located inside the military base of the Southern Command. My mother was a civilian supervisor of the Philippine Navy for 25 years while my deceased father was a Philippine Navy Officer.
2. Since our canteen also catered to American servicemen who stayed at the military base every time their vessels docked in Zamboanga City, my family came to know many American servicemen who would go to our canteen to eat and buy souvenir items. We treated them as family and we would go out of our way to talk to them, play cards and on many occasions, my mother would even cook special meals for them. They would even entrust their ATM cards to us to withdraw money for them from the bank. My former boyfriend, Brian Goodrich, is also an American serviceman.
3. After working in Swift Foods Inc. since January 22, 2007, I decided to quit my job as a Cost Accountant to pursue my studies in the United States through the help of my family, relatives and close friends. I know that they supported me so that I could finally move on after my tragic experience in 2005 in Subic, Zambales which led to the trial and conviction for rape of Daniel J. Smith.
4. Deep inside, however, I know that I may never be able to move on for as long as I continue to search for answers to so many questions that have lingered in my mind regarding the incident in Subic more that three years ago. Daniel Smith was convicted of rape because the court accepted my version that he took advantage of my intoxication i raping me inside a van that took us to the seawall located at the SBMA Alaba Pier at around 11:30 in the evening of November 1, 2005.
5. Daniel Smith’s witnesses said that while we were at the Neptune Club, I sat on Daniel Smith’s lap and that we kissed each other passionately. I remember that before I met Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club, all I ate was a slice of pizza at the Grand Leisure Hotel. After the pizza, everything else was alcohol drinks from vodka sprite, B52, Singaporean sling, B53, long island ice tea to bullfrog all of which I drank bottoms up. I do not recall Daniel Smith having ordered any alcoholic drink for me. My drinks were all paid for by Chris Mills who invited me to go to the Neptune Club.
6. I had no opportunity to deny in court that I kissed Daniel Smith but with the amount of alcoholic mixed drinks I took, my low tolerance level for alcohol and with only a slice of pizza all night, it dawned upon me that I may have possibly lost my inhibitions, became so intimate with Daniel Smith and did more than just dancing and talking with him like everyone else on the dance floor. Looking back, I would not have agreed to talk with Daniel Smith and dance with him no less than three times if I did not enjoy his company or was at least attracted to him since I met him for the very first time on the dance floor of Neptune Club.
7. When I danced with Daniel Smith for the third time, my companions, Chris Mills has already left Neptune Club since they had to catch their curfew time at the military base. The lighting was sufficient for people to recognize each other and other marines were with their Filipino partners drinking, dancing, and enjoying each other’s company and kissing and hugging among partners was a common scene.
8. With the events at the Neptune Club in mind, I keep on asking myself, if Daniel Smith wanted to rape me, why would he carry me out of the Neptune Club using the main entrance in full view of the security guard and the other customers? Why would the van park right in front of Neptune Club? Why would Daniel Smith and his companies bring me to the seawall of Alaba pier and casually leave this area that was well lighted and with many people roaming around? If they believed that I was raped, would they have not dumped me instead in a dimly lit area along the highway going to Alaba pier to avoid detection?
9. I told the court that Daniel Smith kissed my lips and neck and held my breast inside the van. Recalling my testimony, I ask myself how I could have remembered this if witnesses told the court that I passed out and looked unconscious when I was brought to the van by Daniel Smith. How could I have resisted his advances given this condition? Daniel Smith and I were alone on the third row of the van which had limited space and I do not recall anyone inside the van who held my hand or any part of my body. What I can recall is that there was very loud music and shouting inside the van.
10. If the travel from Neptune Club took only several minutes and with the driver of the van trying to beat the curfew time of his passengers, how could I have instantly regained my consciousness and talked to the people upon reaching the seawall of Alaba Pier? When people gathered around me at the seawall, everyone seemed to have drawn the conclusion that I was raped except for one who called me a bitch.
11. Based on the account of the SBMA police, I was very hesitant to board the mobile police car that brought me to the headquarters for investigation. I was so confused and the first thing that entered my mind was how would my mother and boyfriend react if they learn that I was last seen with Daniel Smith and that a condom was seen on my pants after Daniel Smith left the van? I was scared of losing not only my American boyfriend but the chance of living in the United States. In fact, I did not immediately tell my boyfriend that I was raped by Daniel Smith. All I said was that something bad happened to me.
12. I expect many sectors to question my motives in executing this statement more than three years after the incident. However, as I practically grew up interacting with American servicemen in Zamboanga City who treated me and my family very well, and thinking over and over again how I may have conducted myself at the Neptune Club, I can’t help but entertain doubts on whether the sequence of events in Subic last November of 2005 really occurred the way the court found them to have happened.
13. My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away. I would rather risk public outrage than do nothing to help the court in ensuring that justice is served.
AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.

With her decision to recant, Suzette has answered this post’s question.

ursua-quote

In a surprise development, it is  being reported that Suzette Sombilon Nicolas , the 25-year-old Filipina raped by American soldier Daniel Smith, has left for the United States “to live there for good.”

Her lawyer, Evalyn Ursua told ABS-CBN Network carrier AM radio Station, DZMM, she was just informed of this yesterday afternoon when Suzette’s mother visited her at home to give her a letter from Nicole “thanking her for her services.”

Ursua said that since she is “ethically bound to say nothing about what I think happened,” all she could do was to accept the decision of her client and “wait until I am able to personally talk to her.”

How was the Filipina rape victim able to fly to the homeland of her assailant with not even her lawyer being told?

She apparently got both a visa to enter the United States, and settle there.

Who facilitated the trip, including the financial arrangements to make it?

Quite curiously, Suzette’s departure last week yet came just days before the publication in the Los Angeles Times of a report bearing the byline of Paul Watson dated Monday, March 16.

la-times-excerpt-grfx-20

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-philippines-rape16-2009mar16,0,2464018.story

The story indicates that the LA Times correspondent wrote and filed the story from Manila as it included his perceptions of how “Filipinos are angry” over the non-resolution of Smith’s continued stay in the US Embassy.

Watson’s account also includes statements from US Emassy spokesperson Rebecca Thomkpson and Congresswoman Luzviminda Ilagan.

Was Watson’s trip to Manila coincidental or was the story developed precisely as an advancer of sorts to this disclosure of Suzette Nicolas’ unannounced immigration to America?

Does Suzette’s acceptance of the opportunity given her to live in the U.S, indicate a de facto legal settlement of her personal complaint with the inference that the justice she that eluded herin the Philippines would now be accorded her in America?

At what price?

POSTSCRIPT:

Dear Readers,

With the news of Suzette’s recantation, you will realize the reason my post was titled such. Because it was obvious that by ’stealing away in the night’, leaving the Philippines last week, Suzette Sombilon Nicolas a.k.a. had succumbed to entreaties for her to take back her story, the story she narrated so convincingly that the RTC judge who tried the rape case found Daniel Smith guilty in 2006.

There are those who gloat and yes use this to demean those who sided with honor and have been left holding the bag, as it were.

I have a frog in my though, even a tinge of sadness, but not a whit of regret that it is honor’s side I took and chose to try to uphold.

There is no dishonor in fighting for honor.

Nicole is 25. If her definition, her understanding of honor, is living in material plenty, it is her right, I respect that.

Even her decision to turn her back on those he believed in her meant exposing them to ridicule.

Material liberty has come to Suzette.

The Inquirer is reporting that Suzette received a 100,000-peso settlement fee.

The price Suzette paid at justice’s expense and her peace of mind is for her to live with.

She deserves to move on. We do, too.

The final development to await is how Daniel Smith’s appeal of his lower court conviction will be affected by Suzette’s decision to recant.

Rape is no longer a private crime in the Philippines but is the State’s case.

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