Can a foreigner expect to get justice in the Philippines? Just ask Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith. Smith was convicted of rape in 2006. The “crime” supposedly took place in November 2005, while Smith was in the Philippines to participate in joint military exercises between the US and Philippine militaries. Smith and several other Marines were accused of rape by “Nicole” (a cover name given to the “victim”). Nicole’s true identity has now been revealed, she is Suzette Nicolas of Zamboanga City.
Since 2006, Daniel Smith has been incarcerated for the rape, and has been awaiting appeal. This week, Suzette Nicolas recanted her account of events, and has sworn a new statement indicating that she is not sure if she was raped or not.
Not sure? Back when Smith was convicted of the “rape” Suzette said that if she had her way, Smith should be killed for what he did to her. Now she says that she thinks that she may have consented to any sex that may have occurred. Actually, she is not even sure that there was any sex!
One of the things that really bothers me about this chain of events is that Justice Secretary of the Philippines, Raul Gonzales says that Suzette Nicolas, back before the trial, wanted to change her statement and withdraw much of what she said, but he would not allow her to do so. So, based on this, it would seem that Philippine Officials knew in advance of the trial that the event may have never even occurred, yet they continued with the prosecution anyway! Is that justice?
Another funny thing about this is that Suzette Nicolas, through her mother, is now saying that she is withdrawing the case because she is tired of it, and that “there is no justice in the Philippines.” No justice? She is right. It’s not justice when you falsely accuse somebody of rape and an innocent man is convicted of the crime. That certainly is not justice.
One thing that I also find interesting about this case is that over the years, “Nicole,” has been held up in such high esteem by Filipinos. It has been as if she was a Saint. Now that she has recanted, a lot of people are saying that it is because she was paid off, or pressured by the US or Philippine Government to do so. Before she was said to be so honest. Now that she recanted, people say that it is not true that it didn’t happen. So, she is telling a lie now? If she is being dishonest now, how do we know that she wasn’t dishonest before? Well, the fact is that she is saying now that she did lie before.
As of now, Smith still languishes in incarceration. He is being held by the US Embassy in Manila, awaiting his final appeals. Since Suzette Nicolas has now cleared Smith of wrongdoing, he will be released soon, though, right? Not so quick. Philippine “Justice” officials say that Nicolas’ recantation has no affect on Smith’s status, though. Even though his “victim” says that she lied to the court, they still want to keep him in jail! Is that justice?
Personally, I have never had any problems with the Philippine Justice system, but seeing how this case has been handled, and how it continues to be handled certainly makes me think twice, though.
Oh, by the way… any guesses what happened to Suzette Nicolas? As of last week, she is living in the USA with her American boyfriend!
This whole case only encourages people to repeat the act. A woman can falsely accuse a foreigner of rape, get him convicted, then recant years later. She’ll get money (Nicolas got P100,000 from Smith to cover damages against her) and possibly even a visa to go live in the States! That’s a lot of incentive for a poor Filipina to make false accusations against any foreigner she can find.
Justice? For me it is certainly absent here. What do you think?