My column for the March 4 issue of this paper entitled “One too many beers changed this life forever” spawned quite a frenzy from readers who thought I was glorifying a rapist. To those who commented and reacted, thank you for raising the questions that I obviously failed to answer in the previous article. At this point, I do not even need a second thought to write part 2.

Did I write the column to glorify the rapist Smith? Or was it to say Nicole, the victim, lied about the rape? No, for the first, and yes, for the second. I am against rape, but I am also against injustice. I am for truth, I do not condone lies. What people might have read from online reports were products of Nicole’s ivy poisoning each and every fragile mind of her dishonesty. She managed to make people believe she was raped. Truth of the matter, she was not.

“The protests outside the court hearing were not in Smith’s favor.” I agree. The protests were initiated by a few leftists whose members could not even elucidate the exact reason why they were there. Were the protests in support for Nicole or were they for plain vested interest (they were anti-Americans, anti-VFA weren’t they)? One reader was right when she commented that “it is harder to take when the victim all too often experiences re-victimization through questioning the victim’s actions.” As a retort, how can I not question Nicole’s intention of crying rape when she could not even stick to one statement of what really happened that night of dirty dancing?

Last week, with Filipinos and Americans hoping for truth to finally come out, Suzette Nicolas a.k.a. Nicole, surprised everyone with this news headline “Nicole leaves for US, settles for 100,000 pesos (US$ 2000).” The Filipina, who claimed she was raped in the back of a van by a US Marine named Daniel Smith, left the Philippines to stay in the United States “for good”. Nicole’s mother told reporters her daughter wants to move on and wants to get married abroad. The most shocking of all surprises was a five-page notarized affidavit from Nicole herself, recanting her testimony in court. She was singing a different tune because as she said “My conscience bothered me.” Here is a part of what she said through the Philippine Star (March 18, 2009), which I quote:

“My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away. I would rather risk public outrage than do nothing to help in ensuring that justice is served.” Nicole said she wondered how she could recall her testimony that Smith kissed her lips and neck and held her breast inside the van, when witnesses told the court that she passed out and looked unconscious when he took her to the van. “How could I have resisted his advances given this condition? Daniel Smith and I were alone on the third row of the van, which had limited space and I do not recall anyone inside the van who held my hand or any part of my body. What I can recall is that there was very loud music and shouting inside the van.” Denying any alleged pressure from the government to recant, she further said “With the events at the Neptune Club in mind, I keep asking myself, if Daniel Smith wanted to rape me, why would he carry me out of the Neptune Club using the main entrance in full view of the security guard and the other customers? Why would the van park right in front of Neptune Club? Why would Daniel Smith and his companions bring me to the sea wall of Alaba Pier and casually leave this area that was well-lighted and with many people roaming around? I believe, if I was really raped by Smith, he and his companions would have dumped me instead in a dimly lit area along the highway going to Alaba Pier to avoid detection.”

These were the same statements she told a lawmaker a day after the so-called rape. Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said Nicole’s latest recantation from her previous testimony strikes a chord to what really happened than her original complaint that led to US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith’s conviction. The circumstances in Nicole’s new affidavit are what she and other witnesses, including the driver of the van, narrated to the lawmaker. Magsaysay said Nicole was crying when she first talked to her, but that she did not complain of rape. She was more concerned about the possibility of her mother getting angry at her because she was out the whole night with Smith and his companions.

What was the real intention of Nicole for crying rape? There are a lot of speculations. Bloggers think she wanted an easy passport to the U.S. Reports say that she has an American boyfriend that time she was spending moments with Smith and the other Marines. Political analysts think that there were people who took over, brainwashed and influenced Nicole. Whatever was the exact reason, a fact remained: Smith’s life was destroyed. Would the new affidavit rectify the wrong decision on Smith?

Nicole’s new statement does not have any bearing anymore on her complaint against Smith, especially when all the evidence needed to convict had already been presented. The “people of the Philippines” had already proven its case against Smith with her as its witness. The court already handed the final decision on the criminal case. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said “Assuming there was a settlement, you can’t undo the judgment of the judge. That is not newly discovered evidence. You can only reopen that for similar purpose if you have newly discovered evidence. We can only reopen that for similar purpose if we have newly discovered evidence.”

Gonzalez said that he found it ironic to see Nicole in the US after her case had taken the entire nation into this rape hullabaloo ride. Nicole could have traveled to Italy where her brother resides. If she just did, it would have been more illustrative of her fighting stance against the US. But she did not go to Italy, or anywhere else. She migrated to the US!

While some senators were disheartened by the news, Gonzalez believed that “Nicole” and her lawyers could be charged with false testimony and perjury for backtracking. Problems had been created and foreign policy had been affected by the controversy. An anti-crime advocate said that Nicole must be extradited so she could swear to the truthfulness of her affidavit of recantation.

Now the perception of who is the real victim in this case has shifted from Nicole to Smith. Senator Rodolfo Biazon said that the recantation has raised moral, legal and judicial questions. “Who is the victim, Nicole or Smith? Smith had lost his career if not a big part of his life. Nicole even raised the question of deficiencies of our justice system. Justice for whom? For the Filipino Nicole? For the American Smith? For the Filipino people? Or justice for the Filipina Maria Clara?”, Biazon asked.

The case is still on appeal at the Court of Appeals. Whether the decision would be for or against Smith, Nicole has nothing to lose. Whether Smith’s appeal would be granted or denied, Nicole would still enjoy her stay in the US. But whatever the decision of the court would be, it should be respected.

Finally, this type of “bogus” rape charges could happen to anyone. For sure, there would still be similar cases in the future of “Smiths having casual sex with the likes of Nicole” and ending up in jail. There would be more rage towards those who falsely cried rape and then recanted after ruining lives. Maybe, not here in Brookings; maybe when you travel to some faraway lands. When it happens, what we can do, as people against rape and injustice, is to hope the perpetrators be brought to justice, or if I have to listen to a friend, be shot and quartered.