BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Posted 7:06 p.m., Apr. 27, 2006
A former vice president, a former senator, and a law dean have joined the team working as private counsels for the complainant in the Subic rape case.
Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., former Sen. Rene Saguisag, and Lyceum of the Philippines College of Law dean Pacifico Agabin have joined lawyers Evalyn Ursua, Honorato Aquino, and Anna Lisa Gonzales in lawyering for “Nicole,” the 22-year-old woman who was allegedly raped by four U.S. Marines in Subic, Zambales in November last year. They made their first appearance for the case earlier today at the Makati Regional Trial Court, where the motion to admit amended information filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) was heard.
“These are legal luminaries,” Ursua said of the three new lawyers for Nicole. “We expect them to provide expert opinion, particularly because there are still many gray areas in the case.”
Saguisag lost no time in assailing Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, who has recently filed a motion to amend the information on three of the suspects.
Under the original information, Lance Corporals Daniel Smith, Keith Silkwood and Daniel Duplantis, and S/Sgt. Chad Carpentier were all charged as principals in the alleged gang-rape of Nicole. Gonzalez had recommended the downgrading of charges against Silkwood, Duplantis and Carpentier – turning them into accessories instead of principals.
“Pandering to the mob? This is very shocking,” Saguisag said, referring to Gonzalez’s statement that he could have charged three of the four suspects as mere accessories but he wanted to satisfy the mob. “You should decide in accordance with law.”
Ursua and Guingona both said there was sufficient evidence to prove that Silkwood, Duplantis and Carpentier were principals in the case. “They were cheering him on,” Guingona said.
“Why would you turn the suspects into accessories when in fact they could be charged as principals?” Saguisag added. “It seems Gonzalez is lawyering for the Embassy.”
Ursua said they expect the Makati Regional Trial Court to come up with the decision on the motion to admit the amended information tomorrow.
The arraignment of the four suspects is also scheduled for tomorrow. “If the judge decides to accept the amended information, the arraignment should not push through tomorrow,” Ursua said, “because the victim has a right to bring the matter to the Court of Appeals.” (Bulatlat.com)