My supposed follow-up to the entry on Philippine beaches has to give way to this one. It is just too big a story to be ignored.
"Nicole", or Suzette S. Nicolas in real life, the girl who accused a US serviceman of raping her, is gaining a lot of attention, again, in the Philippines after issuing a sworn statement which raised doubts on her initial story. The question on everybody's mind is, was she raped or not?
I did not religiously follow this story but I know enough to know that:
1. Suzette accused Daniel Smith of raping her after a night of partying in Subic
2. Daniel Smith was convicted in December 2006
3. The case is now in the hands of the Court of Appeals
4. Daniel is currently detained at the US Embassy in Manila
5. Suzette issued a new statement on March 12, 2009 practically recanting her accusation
To read the entire statement, click HERE.
Thew new statement certainly raises a level of reasonable doubt on Daniel Smith's guilt. But a reversal of the decision might not come anytime soon since the CA cannot accept the new evidence just like that. It has to go through a legal process.
The bigger story here is that Suzette's new sworn statement came out just before the Visiting Forces Agreement is up for review by our lawmakers. Some have even linked this new development to US Pres. Obama's "surprise" call to Pres. Arroyo last weekend. Others have gone as far as calling Suzette a traitor. She was supposed to be the poster girl of the anti-VFA movement. What happened? Did "unseen hands" get to Suzette and coerce her into making that statement?
A further look at the matter reveals that:
1. Suzette made her new statement without the knowledge of her lawyer
2. The lawyer who notarized Suzette's statement is Abraham Rey Acosta who works for Sycip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan law firm, the same law firm which represents Daniel Smith
3. Suzette indicated that she received Php100,000 from Daniel Smith
4. Suzette left for the US to be with her new American boyfriend "for good"
Former Senator Jovito Salonga, a staunch supporter of the anti-VFA movement, aptly calls it an out-of-court settlement.
Which brings us back to the original question, was she really raped or not? Did she lie back then or is she lying now? Either way, she certainly lied about something.
Did she really do it all for the money and a comfortable life in the US? If she did, it seems like she got what she wanted. And we... well, as much as I detest Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, I agree with him when he said that it looks like we were all "taken for a ride".