I have been mulling about writing a post on my thoughts on the case but it’s been much too emotional until the verdict was handed down. I do not wish to condemn either Nicole or Daniel Smith — I believe that the justice system, destiny and eventually, their God will be their judge.
Rape is a very emotional topic, discussed in legalese or otherwise. It’s usually a “he said, she said” matter which is not as clear cut as other crimes. It is also a private crime, and as such, cannot be prosecuted unless the victim herself, or if she is not able to give legal consent, her family, agrees to prosecute.
As a woman, I feel strongly about violating any person, male or female, sexually. More than the physical damage, there is untold emotional and psychological damage that we cannot fathom unless we’ve been there otherselves. As a lawyer, I tend to be more objective but I strongly adhere to the legal tenet that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Again, I do not wish to pass judgment on either party to this case.
I believe, though, that Filipinos as a people, are being put on trial for its failure to adhere to the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement. It’s bad enough that we have refused to honor the ruling of international arbitrators in the NAIA III case, insisting on our own version of how things should go. It makes me wonder if this administration is now hard put to make a stand only because any grease money had changed hands with the previous administration and so it was left with an empty bag. But back to Smith..
I laud Judge Pozon for his steadfastness about standing up to Uncle Sam and GMA, but we have to keep in mind that he knows his decision is up for automatic review and will in all likelihood be appealed by Smith’s defense team on questions of fact before that even happens. Except for an acquittal which would’ve meant no appeal except if new evidence or extenuating circumstances surface, Pozon can say the sky is red and he would have just been told to his face on appeal or review that it is actually blue. And we have to remind our ever emotional kababayans that we are talking about a treaty which is recognized as part of the laws of the land. What would we do if say we had this agreement with Indonesia, a Filipino soldier is in Smith’s shoes, and the Indonesian authorities refuse to hand over our erring soldier until all appeals are exhausted — we would probably run to another higher authority to arbitrate and who comes to mind?
There is the issue of civility and diplomacy which we cannot just shun because it is convenient or expedient in terms of PR concerns.. we all have to adhere to the rule of law considering we might one day find ourselves on the other side of the fence. They should release Smith back to the US Embassy. If the decision is upheld — and I say that as a big IF — then Smith will serve his sentence. If the higher courts find that the 40 years is commensurate to the circumstances of his crime, then he will turn old and gray on Philippine shores. We don’t know how the decision will go, or what revision will happen.. it’s barely half the journey getting the accused convicted. What is imperative is that we act in a stately manner, a true sovereign nation — and honor our commitment under the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA. If Smith’s case shows us loopholes in the agreement, then let’s get our legislators working to correct it or altogether scrap the treaty — but that’s going forward, we cannot now turn a blind eye when truth as it stands is staring us in the face.