Wednesday, March 25, 2009
A flicker of hope.
I sometimes believe I had seen enough of what is happening to my country to make me think of it in the worst possible way. You see, the behavior of some people in the government are often so brazen that I find myself engulfed with a recurring sense of a society spinning out of control. But somehow, I feel that not all is lost. There are still those who upheld the law and make things right.
Take for example the Subic rape case. Here the accused is not a powerful individual. But Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith is no ordinary mortal either. He is a member of the visiting American military contingent, allowed into my country on the strength of a bilateral agreement between the Philippines and the United States.
In a less democratic society, there would have been no way someone like Daniel Smith could be indicted, tried and actually convicted by a local court. Political considerations — diplomatic and security interests — would have intruded from the start to prevent the incident from becoming a full-blown case. There were actually attempts to exert that kind of pressure. But they did not prosper because there were women’s groups that made sure that Nicole’s (the victim) fight would not be a lonely one. As a result, the Judge closed his ears to the diplomatic and political noise and focus entirely on the legal merits of the case.
This case has placed both the Philippine and the US governments in an embarrassing situation. The final outcome may not be to my liking, as Smith wasn’t detained in any of the country’s jail but in the makeshift detention cell in the US embassy. However it is worth remembering that going this far on a case like this is not a mean achievement in itself. When law makes it hard for power to have its way, then that is progress!
On the sad note however, I am afraid that Smith’s conviction will eventually be reversed.
After all, it is the great, mighty America versus a little dirt-poor country like the Philippines that looks up to Uncle Sam for loans and every little help it needs -where a mere telephone call by its President sends our own little President and her whole government into a tizzy. Shame on it, but the quality of mercy is not restrained when it is Uncle Sam asking for it.
Oh how I wish that the government had shown more “balls” with regard to this case, instead of lawyering for Smith when it was completely unnecessary to do so. With the loud noises made about renegotiating the Visiting Forces Agreement, it makes sense to suppose that a compromise was in the works.
Despite the heaviness in my heart, I wish “Nicole” the best, and pray that in her exile, far away from the intrigues and pressures, she will truly find a new life. She was and still is a woman of courage, but her struggle for justice will now have to be carried on by other women.
Here’s hoping that there are still many of them in my midst…