BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Various groups expressed outrage over the Court of Appeals (CA) decision acquitting US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.
Members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance), GABRIELA and other groups held a protest action in front of the CA compound in Manila then proceeded to the US Embassy this morning.
Smith, a participant to the Balikatan exercises in 2005, was convicted of raping Nicole, a 22 year-old Filipina, inside a cruising van at Subic Bay Freeport.
On December 4, 2006, Judge Benjamin Pozon of Branch 139 of the Makati Regional Trial Court sentenced Smith to reclusion perpetua; and committed him temporarily to the Makati City Jail. Smith’s co-accused, Lance Corporals Dominic Duplantis and Keith Silkwood and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier were acquitted.
However, Smith was spirited out of the Makati City jail and brought to the US embassy by virtue of what is called as the Romulo-Kenney agreement, which was signed by Philippine Foreign Affairs Sec. Alberto Romulo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.
On April 23, the CA reversed the Makati RTC decision and acquitted Smith. The appellate court said no evidence was presented to show that the American had employed force, threat and intimidation on Nicole.
Penned by Associate Justice Monina Arevalo- Zeñarosa, the CA decision read, “What we see was the unfolding of a spontaneous, unplanned romantic episode with both parties carried away by their passions and stirred up by the urgency of the moment caused probably by alcoholic drinks they took, only to be rudely interrupted when the van suddenly stopped to pick up some passengers.”
Two other women associate justices of the CA’s special 11th division – Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal – concurred with the decision.
Joms Salvador, GABRIELA spokesperson, said, “The Court of Appeals betrayed the Filipinos. By acquitting Smith, they have trampled on the hard-fought justice of women in the Subic rape case and the fight of all Filipinos to defend our dignity as a people.” ?
Side of the defense
In a statement, House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo noted that the Court ‘practically adopted the defense side, as it gave more credence to the supposed recantation of the victim prepared by the lawyers of the accused.’