Gov’t won’t contest acquittal

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE government will not contest the acquittal of US serviceman Daniel Smith before the Supreme Court, saying there was no grave error on the part of the Court of Appeals in handing down the decision last Thursday.

Solicitor-General Agnes Devanadera said she does not see any reason to ask the High Court to review the decision. She said since the case is an acquittal, the government cannot go to the SC anymore to seek a reversal of the ruling on direct appeal.

“You cannot review that anymore… unless there is really a grave abuse of discretion, which there is none as it can be seen from the very lengthy ponencia. I think it is significant that the decision was promulgated by a three-women division of the court. It should probably be more sympathetic to Filipino women if the woman had been transgressed,” she said.

Devanadera also belied claims that the government did not do anything to help Suzette “Nicole” Nicolas win her case against Smith.

“The [Office of the Solicitor General] has put up a very good fight [in the Court of Appeals]. Paano naman kami magpapabaya doon? We did our best,” she said.

In another development, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez debunked allegations that the government did nothing to support Suzette Nicolas, the Filipina who accused a US serviceman of rape only to recant later.

“That is their own self-serving allegation. When the government prosecuted the case, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was convicted at the Makati Regional Trial Court,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said it was the legal right and recourse of Smith to appeal his conviction to the Court of Appeals, which acquitted the US Marine and ordered his release from detention the other day.

The acquittal of Smith also drew flak from Sen. Chiz Escudero who said the case of the US serviceman reveals an inherent bias in favor of foreigners in the country’s justice system

“It’s really saddening to see that Filipinos, who have been victims of discrimination overseas, are even placed at a disadvantage against foreigners in their own country,” he said.

“More disheartening is the fact that Nicole saw hope, a better future, in America despite her unfortunate experience. It may very well be an indictment of what we have become as a nation,” the opposition senator said.

“It is a symptom of the state of helplessness that has developed because of decades of misgovernance. Most of our people have, through no fault of their own, lost faith in this country,” Escudero said.