March 19, 2009
‘VFA IS MORE THAN JUST NICOLE’ – KIKO PANGILINAN
Independent senator and reforms advocate Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan yesterday reminded Malacanang and the public to see beyond the case of ‘Nicole’ aka Suzette Nicolas. Nicolas sent shockwaves throughout media yesterday when a new affidavit was released recanting her testimony against convicted rapist and American serviceman, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.
“The issue of VFA is more than just the issue of one woman who cried foul over an alleged crime by an American soldier. It is about the lopsidedness of a treaty entered into by the Philippines and the United States–a treaty which protected foreign interests over our own,” Pangilinan pointed out. “We are deeply saddened by the turn of events, but we also understand why someone in Nicole’s place would want to seek some peace after more than two years of bearing the weight of her case.”
“Our justice system has failed her. Our government has failed her. WE have failed her. And if we can’t protect and serve justice to one of our citizens, how about the thousands of other crime victims out there who might now be feeling disheartened and desperate because of the turn of events?”
Pangilinan, who last month filed Senate Resolution No. 892 calling for the termination of the VFA, raised serious questions about the form and timing of Nicole’s recantation. “What boggles my mind right now is why the new affidavit came from the lawyer of Daniel Smith and not her own lawyer. Isn’t that strange? And what about the timing of events? First, the scuffle over Smith’s custody, then this resolution, then GMA receiving a call from Washington, and now a recantation by the victim? Why just now?”
“We do not wish to question Nicole’s integrity, but we wonder if there’s a higher hand behind all this,” Pangilinan posed.
He reiterated that the best way to move forward is for the state to pursue the case against Smith, and for President Arroyo, as the chief architect of foreign policy, to first terminate the existing VFA, and then work on a renegotiation with President Obama.
“We cannot let justice die with this case,” Pangilinan reminded. “We have to ensure that our laws have the necessary safeguards to protect our interests and the interests of the Filipino public. I urge Malacanang to act on this matter at the soonest possible time and protect Philippine sovereign interests.”