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December 05, 2006

Comments

frayed

Gonzo, you mean whether he's guilty or not, it's ok to use him as a symbol just to show that the Philippines has some balls?

gonzo

No not at all. i believe the judge weighed all the evidence, listened to all the testimony, perused all the facts, and actually did not cower this time against the powers that be, to finally hand down what i think was his real, honest-to-himself judgment.

That's the surprise.

gonzo

oops i meant ...cower from (not against) the powers that be...

whatever it is, it's a first for the philippines: an unfavourable judgment against an erring american serviceman in this country.

given the history of US soldiers getting away literally with murder, it really was a surprise. (remember the US soldiers in Clark who shot and killed local scavengers, later claiming they thought they were dogs? correct me if i'm wrong but they got away scot-free, didn't they?)

cogs

Gonzo, stop digging. Your hole is way too deep already.

gonzo

yes cogs and yours is too shallow.

mcoy

some of these last few exchanges demonstrate the passions and external influences that cloud the root issue.

too much philippines-america, too little was it rape.


ktree,
if daniel smith was a friend of yours, you have my sympathy. i think he got himself tangled up in something quite beyond him. but then i also think he could have chosen not to.

kris

i think smith got a fair trial. he was given the chance to present his evidence and his witnesses. but there was simply too much corroborating circumstantial evidence against him. the most smith could present were a medical expert and his co-accused. his medical expert's opinion being the lacerations could have been the effect of previous intercourse. that is unlikely considering other circumstantial evidence. i wouldn't put much weight on the co-accused's' testimonies either, knowing their necks are on the line.

i trust americans will do their best to keep their men from any trial. i won't deny corruption in the philippine justice system, i've ranted against it myself. what's amusing is how the wrong case is being used to prove it. or perhaps it is the right case, if smith eventually gets an acquittal.

that rape took place was obvious (at least to me) the day news of the incident broke out. in the succeeding trial both victim and accused aired their sides, and upon weighing their arguments, the judge arrived at the same conclusion as i did. i think americans have difficulty accepting the guilty verdict, so they themselves cloud the issue - by claiming inequity, public pressure, mishandling, etc. i wonder if they are as sympathetic to their criminals in the US.

torn - in this case, yes, i would equate justice with a conviction. i believe he is guilty. was it premature to arrive at such a conclusion prior to the trial? perhaps. but like i said it was obvious to me that the girl was raped as soon as the news broke out (considering initial investigations, eyewitness interviews), it was just a matter of determining who did it.

i understand what you mean by knee-jerk anti-american demonstrators. they have been, within their rights, expressing that opinion since the VFA was drafted. they used this case as another venue to air their grievances, specifically against the VFA, because the case is an indirect effect of the agreement. and this isn't the first time a heinous crime was committed by an american serviceman in the philippines under such bilateral agreements. because i can see this connection, i find nothing wrong with the protest. besides, there's nothing illegal about it. what would be wrong is if the judge's opinion regarding the VFA influenced his decision. i don't think it has. his reasons for arriving at a guilty verdict against smith in the resolution were clear and justfied. the anti-american sentiments of some of the protesters had nothing to do with his decision, and i don't think americans should be using it as an excuse to absolve smith either.

gonzo - i think the soldier mistook the victim for a wild boar, not a dog. but i'm talking about the base employee. are you talking about the boy or the fisherman?

CAN

kris

"that rape took place was obvious (at least to me) the day news of the incident broke out."

"i would equate justice with a conviction"

"it was obvious to me that the girl was raped as soon as the news broke out"

Those are all quite revealing comments.


Cogs

Kris writes: "i find nothing wrong with the protest. besides, there's nothing illegal about it."

Absolutely wrong. The protests were in violation of the law covering contempt of court (sub judice, in this case), which states that no presumption of guilt or innocence can be aired publicly until the verdict is delivered.

In England, for example, this law covers the period from arrest to verdict and sentence, sometimes even stretching as far as the end of an appeal process. Here? The public hearing was pretty well over and the guilty verdict was in (remember the "convict the rapist" banners?) before the judge even began hearing evidence.

This illegal pressure could have been stopped if one protest leader, one newspaper editor and one commentator had been prosecuted, with a warning that the law of this country applies to everyone, not just to Smith.

What about Nicole's claim that the prosecution counsel, the government and the Americans were cooking up a not-guilty verdict as part of some quid pro quo? Pure contempt of court, and, most likely, defamation of the judge. By rights, she should by now be facing trial herself.

Kris also writes: "what would be wrong is if the judge's opinion regarding the VFA influenced his decision. i don't think it has."
This view would be based on what precisely? On the Philippines judiciary's long and noble resistance to external interference?

I would have liked to hear the view of the van driver -- who, mysteriously, was not called by the prosecution. He would have been the only non-partisan witness to what happened in the van.

Interestingly, he told the Star newspaper this week that there had been no rape. But the prosecution had warned him that if he gave evidence on behalf of the defence, he risked being tried as an accessory. That, plus the fact that in the Philippines "things happen" to insignificant people who have delicate information, and that was probably enough for him to let "justice" take its course.

Of course, maybe Smith did rape Nicole. My view is that he probably did. But the cynical manipulation of the case will leave many people with the belief that justice in the Philippines is still an illusion.

gonzo

Bottom line is the judge handed down a guilty verdict for the first time against an American serviceman, as politically inexpedient as it was, Torn has said.

I'd say justice was served.

If the whiney americans don't like it, tough. Leave.

If Smith had been acquitted i think a lot more people would be saying that Philippine justice is still illusory.

True justice: I think we're getting there, little by little. The Philippines is very much a Third World country with all the weaknesses a third world nation has, and that includes shortcomings in the judicial system.

On the other hand, all OJ needed in the "First World" USA was a bit of cash and Johnny Cochran, and he's laughing.

And if you ask me the anti-american protesters are in shock over the verdict as well. They've lost a rallying point.

Cogs


My last word on this. I promise.

For those people who have contributed to this discussion to suggest that the means (gossip passed off as truth by a compliant media, the contempt of court, the assumption of guilt, the illegal harassment of Smith in the vicinity of the courtoom, the threats) justified the end (at last a guilty verdict against an American serviceman), let me just say that they should keep their mouths shut the next time an influential personality walks away from a watertight charge because the judge mysteriously and suddenly found there was "insufficient evidence to justify prosecution".

Either you have a justice system that works for all because it is protected against exernal influence, or you have what the Philippines has.

I'm a Brit. I won't be asked to choose.

cvj

Good for you Cogs. As for us Filipinos, we have to fight for justice the best way we can under the given circumstances.

kris

CAN - news of the incident broke out two days after it happened. witnesses saw an unconcious woman being taken out of a van by some men and dumped on a sidewalk "like a pig." in the interview between the van driver and the authorities, the driver said he fetched the girl and the servicemen from a bar, and was asked by the servicemen to drive around aimlessly. in the van the driver heard cheers (shouts of "go smith go" etc.). he was asked to stop at the side of the road where he too witnessed the unconcious girl with her pants down being dumped on the sidewalk. he was then asked to drive back to the hotel. the woman who was taken out of the van is pressing charges of rape.

so yes, i arrived at the conclusion that the girl was raped when i first heard about it on the news, when it was still part of a police report. like i said earlier, if i see something like that, an unconcious woman with her pants down being dumped on a sidewalk by two men, i'd think rape. and the girl did cry rape. the only other plausible explanation is the girl is fabricating a story, and that the driver and witnesses who saw her being dumped on the sidewalk connived with her. i have no reason to believe that. further evidence in the trial supported my suspicions of smith's guilt (dna tests, the condom being thrown after her, inconsistencies in the defense's testimonies).

"i would equate justice with a conviction" is a partial quote. i said i would equate justice with a conviction BECAUSE i believe he is guilty. the same way i would equate it with an acquittal IF i believed he were innocent.

Cogs - sensitivity to the sub judice rule is more applicable in cases involving a jury. since you insist on using the english court, here's a quote from www.yourrights.org.uk:

"In contrast, where cases are heard on appeal or by judges alone it is much less likely that the court would find that there was a substantial risk of serious prejudice, as professional judges are, as a result of their training, expected not to be influenced by the media in reaching a decision." (from http://www.yourrights.org.uk/your-rights/chapters/the-right-of-free-expression/contempt-of-court-and-restrictions-on-court-reporting/what_constitutes_contempt.shtml ; also http://www.sheffieldforum.co.uk/faq.php?faq=sf_content)

as for the media, newspaper reporters and tv anchors have always referred to smith as an accused or a defendant, or simply as smith. if any of them actually called smith "a rapist" in their reports prior to the verdict, then they are guilty of disinformation, and should be charged accordingly. on the other hand, reporting an event, such as a protest, is a different matter. editorials, too, are a different matter. if you're interested in the prosecution of a protest leader or a commentator, perhaps you would also like to see smith's family, friends, and spiritual advisers who "believe he is not guilty of what he's accused of" prosecuted as well.

nicole expressed dismay that her state prosecutor (not her private one) did not prepare for her case. when smith was placed on the witness stand, the state prosecutor declined a cross-examination. since when did a prosecutor decline cross-examination of the accused??? her state prosecutors even advised her to settle. i'd be pissed too if i were in her shoes. as for her accusations, they were unclear and made in a fit of anger -- hurled at both governments in general, and no person in particular. if she's not facing trial herself that's because none of those governments is suing her.

the judge noted 14 points in his twelve-page resolution. they were strong and valid points against smith, and they led to the guilty verdict. none of them mentioned the VFA. perhaps you should take them into account first before crying foul on something else.

i, too, would have liked to hear what the driver had to say. i have not read the article in the philippine star, but i assume his statement was a retraction of his first affidavit, an affidavit drafted and signed the day after the incident. i would put more credence to what he said in his initial statment when the incident was being reported to the authorities the next day, instead of a retraction in his second affidavit a week later. i do not believe he was "punched" by authorities to say the girl was raped. but i understand his dilemma. he cannot be non-partisan. if he testifies that nicole was raped, he will be incriminating himself. admitting that a crime was committed makes him an accomplice because he did nothing to stop it. i don't think he realized that when he signed the first affidavit, but upon consulting some lawyers... what's best for him is to have nothing to do with the case, and that's what he's doing.

i won't debate with you if you choose to criticize the philippine justice system. god knows how flawed it is. i can see a bit of it here, even (at least in the state prosecutor's actions, in the americans demanding an "air-conditioned" room for smith even after being found guilty *rolling eyes*, the driver's retraction). what i'm concerned about is that the right verdict was delivered for the right reasons in this particular case. and i believe it was (again, read the resolution first). all the whining i hear about this case just strike me as excuses by people, who though they agree with the verdict, cannot seem to accept it.

kris

Cogs said:

"For those people who have contributed to this discussion to suggest that the means..."

in this case, the means were the evidence and the witnesses presented. they justify the verdict.

"...gossip passed off as truth by a compliant media" - are you talking about the congressman who said the victim was carried "like a pig?" he was quoting an eyewitness. that's not hearsay.

"...the contempt of court" - although the judge's prerogative, the defense could have filed motions for this. as explained earlier, the sub judice rule is not expected to be strictly enforced in a trial with no jury.

"...the assumption of guilt" - my assumption, or perhaps my heavy suspicion, should not be equated with the judge's assumptions. either way, i don't think my suspicions have a weak basis.

"...illegal harrassment of smith in the courtroom" - are you talking about the media's presence? they never hounded him inside the courtroom. from his car maybe, or outside the building, but never from inside the courtroom. your statement is a vague accusation i'm not sure how to address it.

"...justified the end (at last a guilty verdict against an American serviceman)" - the serviceman deserved that verdict.

"...let me just say that they should keep their mouths shut the next time an influential personality walks away from a watertight charge because the judge mysteriously and suddenly found there was "insufficient evidence to justify prosecution".

hahaha... that's my point. this case is the opposite of that scenario, the influential personality did not walk away. that's what's so special about it. why does it piss you off so much?

besides, surely you know by now we won't keep our mouths shut. :)

"Either you have a justice system that works for all because it is protected against exernal influence, or you have what the Philippines has."

i won't deny corruption in this justice system, but name me a justice system that works for all and i have a bridge i could sell you.

Jonie Rojas

"Nicole" was and is a SLUT and a WHORE pure and simple! She did all of this simply for money and publicity. She desires to be a famous PORN STAR, the next Mimi Miyagi!

jusine

you just said it ........

hahaha... that's my point. this case is the opposite of that scenario, the influential personality did not walk away. that's what's so special about it. why does it piss you off so much?

there should be no such thing in a court EVER!! the judge will be the scapegoat for this case... The hilippines has to SPEED up to the rest of the world with 90% of everthing to do with government! its a joke to the world... I love this country but its a joke when you watch the news from another country.. its like a kiddies court and government.. SO BAD AND I AM SO ASHAMED!

End result:- judge has taken the bribe, he will dissapear quietly, Smith will be convicted of a lessor charge and sent to the US and all the stupid leftist's will blame the media and the judge! all fixed! and fact is we pinoys have a VERY short attention span.. We will forget within 2-3 months ...JUST MY THOUGHTS!

jusine

Just to add to my comments above the bribes will come from Gloria not bush!

Just read the news and put it together.. its all planned..

she just keeps chasing the public opinion. and she is SO quiet on this issue...

Why? hmm everyone to their own opinion..

BUT one thing as much as anyone would like, is there IS NO WAY THIS COUNTRY CAN USE THE VFA in this way...!

Its BIGGER than PHILIPPINE LAW!!!!!! its the same as the the geneva convention!


(Dont know what that is?)

Break it and This country is total history!

If you dont know what the Geneva convention is...

you have NO right to post here!

jusine

Just to add to my comments above the bribes will come from Gloria not bush!

Just read the news and put it together.. its all planned..

she just keeps chasing the public opinion. and she is SO quiet on this issue...

Why? hmm everyone to their own opinion..

BUT one thing as much as anyone would like, is there IS NO WAY THIS COUNTRY CAN USE THE VFA in this way...!

Its BIGGER than PHILIPPINE LAW!!!!!! its the same as the the geneva convention!


(Dont know what that is?)

Break it and This country is total history!

If you dont know what the Geneva convention is...

you have NO right to post here!

jusine

Point is this is NO longer about the case its about the VFA..
I dont respct the americans much at all.. Butits no longer about the verdict!
Its STUPID PINOY SYSTEM of everyones wants a piece of the cake! silly people.

TOTAL corruption! a joke to the whole world. get a grip everyone this trial was just the 1st process. Smith wont get jailed here ever!
Its just a ploy by GET RICH PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES nothing to do with justice! Its about power. (which is money and a ticket outta here)

Remember me 'Melda' in about 4- 6 months ok mabe more but you and everyone here will have forgotten about Smith...

Why? because no-one can get fame or money outta him anymore, and Suzette? she will be back in a bar somewhere when all the ladies groups give up on her..

You can take the girl out of the bar but you cannot take the bar out of the girl!!!!!!!!

Dont you think she is pissed enough allready drinking tea and coffee for a year?

I say POST HER PHOTO Everywhere! Give the bar girls a lesson!

oh does that upset you? well keep out of subic bay bars and you will be safe!!!
From INQ7


It’s different for Cadaing. He can only wish that business would return to the way they were before the sensational case. He remembers that fateful night of November 1 in his club as “punong-puno [very full]. We were shoulder-to-shoulder that night,” so unlike the night INQ7.net went to the club. Neptune was practically empty except for the so-called guest relations officers. Outside the club, only a handful of cars were in the parking lot. Inside, the young girls were trying to keep themselves busy. Some were dancing among themselves at the dance floor, some watching television by the bar, and some trying their hand at the pool table. They were all dressed skimpily.

The club manager admits his bar and dance club continues to suffer the stigma of the rape. “Malaki ang nawala sa amin [We lost a lot],” he said, detailing how American servicemen who visit Neptune usually spend at least $50 on drinks. Every ship has between 3,000 and 5,000 servicemen onboard; if half are on duty and the other half were on rest and recreation, the potential business is quite big. Cadaing admitted that Neptune is not exactly wholesome. “Semi-wholesome siguro dahil sa may mga babae kami pero wala kaming bar fine [We’re maybe semi-wholesome because we have girls here but we don’t charge a bar fine],” he said, referring to the fee that customers pay the club so that they could bring the girls out of the club.
Copyright 2006 INQ7.net


gonzo

Jusine, please don't forget to take your prozac again tonight.

hey cogs, you've got your own issues too with Bush's brown-nosing little poodle still hanging around Downing st.

Smith is one american soldier. Your PM helped add legitimacy to Bush's illegal, murderous, destructive invasion. A unilateral, rogue-nation type action that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 3000 americans now, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and the disintegration of an entire country. The Iraqis are surely asking, where exactly is the justice there? Blair sided with the Bush moron in defiance of the United Nations and the British people, didn't he? And all for what?

I know you mean well but perhaps you should focus on sorting out your own backyard first before sticking your nose into other people's problems?

Kris clearly has the best arguments on this issue. Every point is valid. Nothing more need be said.

cheers

torn

Gonzo -- Cogs is not responsible for Blair, any more than you are for your government, or decent Americans are for Bush.

As for "sticking your nose into other people's problems", don't long-term residents of the Philippines have a right to express a view on events here, especially on an issue like this?

Dave Meritt

And what does the Iraq war have to do with any of this anyway? Changing the topic when you've lost the argument is something my kids do all the time -- yeah so i lost the bag, well you're ugly! Same thing here.

Jon Limjap

I honestly wonder...

If Daniel Smith were ugly, or if he were black, would opinions be the way that they are?

Just thinking aloud.

gonzo

torn, i thought the issue here was justice. i was merely pointing out that the Smith case is a relatively minor one when compare to the monumental injustices perpetrated by govts of other 'more developed' nations in places such as iraq and palestine.

Like kris has said, justice was served Philippine-style and that's that; and no amount of american whining has been able to overturn the decision. Yet.

Today we are already seeing the benefits of judge pozon's decision-- note the headline in the Inquirer: 'US cancels war games over Smith custody issue'. Great news. What years of rallies and protests by militant groups from the Philippines to Okinawa could not do, one man has managed to achieve with this one little decision. The US is staying away. No war games for now.

As for long-term residents having the right to express their views, yes of course. Even short term residents can express their views. in fact, anybody with any interest can express their view. What's your point?

My point was cogs was making a big deal about his being a brit (see earlier post) as if being british was somehow superior when it comes to the issue of justice. I made the connection with iraq and the injustice there to point out that unjust actions are not a monopoly of third world countries (are you following this now, dave meritt, or would you like me to spell it out further?)

Each nation has a different court system, as aussie PM john howard pointed out when he commented on the overturned conviction of abu bashir in indonesia yesterday.

adjusting to the local justice system is part of the territory (along with differences in culture, social behaviour, etc) when living in a foreign country-- any foreign country. if one finds himself a bit too uncomfortable with said differences then perhaps it's time to go back home to one's comfort zone. Only logical.

cogs


I have only two words to say in reply to Gonzo's tosh:

Virgilio Garcillano.

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