Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 17      June 4-10, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











Web Bulatlat


(We encourage readers to dialogue with us. Email us your letters complaints, corrections, clarifications, etc.)

Join Bulatlat's mailing list



(Email us your letters statements, press releases,  manifestos, etc.)



For turning the screws on hot issues, Bulatlat has been awarded the Golden Tornillo Award.

Iskandalo Cafe


Copyright 2004 Bulatlat



On the Subic rape case
Fight Continues for ‘Nicole’ and Family

“Basta lalaban kami.” (We’ll fight no matter what.) These fighting words were from the mother of Nicole, as she and Nicole’s younger sister waited to be called inside the courtroom during the hearing last Friday, June 2, at the Makati Regional Court.

By Reyna Mae Tabbada

“Basta lalaban kami.” (We’ll fight no matter what.)

These fighting words were from the mother of Nicole, as she and Nicole’s younger sister waited to be called inside the courtroom during the hearing last Friday, June 2, at the Makati Regional Court.

Twenty-two-year-old Filipina, called Nicole to protect her identity, accused five U.S. Marines of raping her in November last year at the Subic Freeport, Zambales, site of the former U.S. naval base and a popular tourist destination.

Bulatlat interviewed Nicole’s mother during the first trial hearing of the celebrated Subic rape case as well as the first encounter of Nicole and the accused American servicemen since the alleged crime happened inside a green Starex van while cruising the streets of Subic.

Two witnesses

The prosecution presented two witnesses who testified that one of the suspects left with the victim whom was clearly drunk and without control of her own bearings. Aside from being able to describe the state of Nicole before the actual rape took place, Tomas Corpuz and Gerald Muyot, both security personnel of Neptune Bar, also identified the vehicle used by the suspects in leaving the bar with the victim.

Muyot said he saw Daniel Smith, one of the accused, leave the bar carrying Nicole on his back (“bukay-bukay”). He became suspicious when Smith said, on their way out, that:  “She’s with us, we’re going now.” This, he said, prompted him to take note of the vehicle’s plate number. He described it as a “suspicious-looking van, Starex, green color.”

Tomas Corpuz, on the other hand, saw Nicole earlier inside the bar, looking disoriented. He described her as “pasuray-suray” (unsteady). This was around 11:30 p.m. of Nov. 1, a few hours before Muyot reportedly saw Smith “load” the victim in the van.

Destroying credibility

Though it was prosecution’s turn to establish its case against the suspects, the defense team, which is composed of Filipino lawyers, showed what could be their tactic in the trial: portray Nicole as someone who goes to “naughty” and “notorious” places like the Neptune Bar.

When the defense grilled Corpuz, their questions were mainly intended to show that the said bar is a “naughty place.” The defense lawyers asked Corpuz about the physical setting of the bar, like how far the seats are from the dance floor. They also probed on whether Neptune Bar employed hospitality girls and how many were working that night.

Not open for public

While the drama unfolded inside the Session Hall of Branch 139 under Judge Benjamin Pozon, journalists and other members of the audience waited outside the hall. Some of them by choice, while others because of the strict regulations employed by the clerk of court in determining who can and who cannot go inside the courtroom.

Although members of the press were asked to register hours before the hearing, still not everyone could be allowed inside because the hall was small.

Several members of women’s groups like Gabriela who, though registered as one group, were not allowed to enter even during recess. Some of them lamented that this case, though a high profile one and with great security risks, should be open to anyone who wants to know the progress of the trial.

Mugged for shots

The trial ended a few minutes before 5 p.m. The five U.S. servicemen were the first to leave the hall. After a short interval, Nicole and her family left, chased by photographers who wanted to get her picture.

It took some time for Nicole, who was protected by Gabriela members and other supporters, to get to the parking lot to their car. The Supreme Court earlier directed that no pictures of Nicole can be taken and officials of the Makati Regional Trial Court threatened the media men who would publish Nicole’s picture in their newspapers. “No pictures! No pictures!” were continuously shouted by court officials and family members. Bulatlat 



© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.