Evalyn Ursua, whose services as lawyer of Subic rape victim “Nicole” were recently terminated, says she was prepared for such a possibility. Still, she went on, and credits her erstwhile client for sticking it out “during the (most) difficult period.”
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Evalyn Ursua, who was the erstwhile lawyer of Subic rape victim “Nicole”, kept her calm as she announced during the March 17 launch of the Junk VFA Movement in Quezon City that “Nicole” had terminated her services, and that “Nicole’s” mother had informed her that her former client had left for the US, “for good.”
“Nicole’s” mother, Ursua also said, had explained to her that “Nicole” and her family are “tired of the case” and do not want to be “bothered” by it anymore because “there is no justice in the Philippines.”
“Nicole” accused US Marine L/Cpl. Daniel Smith, a participant in the Balikatan military exercises, of raping her in Subic, Zambales in 2005.
“I knew from the start that it was a historical case,” Ursua said in an interview when asked what made her take “Nicole’s” case. “It was significant for us because this was the very first case of a rape (by a US soldier) that reached the court. Before there were many such rapes that took place – in Subic, in Clark, when there were US military bases here –but these cases didn’t reach the courts. There were many but these were always either compromised or settled, or the soldier would simply be spirited out of the country and back to the US. So this time, there was a case that reached the court – that was historical. So it was important that there be lawyers to represent ‘Nicole’. So there was no hesitation on my part (about taking the case).”
In early December 2006, the Makati City Regional Trial Court convicted Smith and ordered his confinement at the Makati City Jail pending his imprisonment at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
However, near midnight on Dec. 29, 2006, he was transferred to a detention facility at the US Embassy in Manila under what is now known as the Romulo-Kenney Agreement. On Feb. 11, the Supreme Court ruled against his detention at the US Embassy.
His case is still pending before the Court of Appeals.
Cause-oriented groups and concerned individuals challenged the legality of Smith’s detention at the US Embassy and the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) before the Supreme Court. On Feb. 11, the Supreme Court ruled against Smith’s confinement at the US Embassy while at the same time upholding the VFA as constitutional, and ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to begin negotiations with the US Embassy for Smith’s transfer to a Philippine prison facility. As of this writing, the negotiations for Smith’s transfer to Philippine custody have yet to take place.
“Nicole” was one of the petitioners in a motion for reconsideration on the Feb. 11 Supreme Court ruling on the VFA’s constitutionality – together with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), GABRIELA, Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), and former Sens. Jovito Salonga and Wigberto Tañada.