"Nicole a victim again"

Gabriela: Do not judge Nicole

Naga City --Nicole is a victim again, according to the official statement of Gabriela. According to the statement released by the progressive group, Nicole’s retraction through her new affidavit is a clear manifestation of the pressure the Subic rape victim is experiencing.

Nelsy Rodriguez, head of Gabriela Camarines Sur, explained that there have been numerous and continuous attempts to pressure Nicole and her family to back down from the controversial rape case. She said that from the beginning of the legal battle, Nicole and her family were subjected to pressure from both the US and Philippine governments.

In a forum held at the University of the Philippines Diliman Campus last March 2, Nicole’s legal counsel, Atty. Evelyn Ursua confirmed rumors of offers by the US government to Nicole and her family. Atty. Ursua’s legal assistance was terminated by Nicole through a letter delivered by her mother.

Rodriguez said that the Philippine government prioritized the relations between the US and the Philippines over justice in the case of Nicole. She added that Nicole was an example of how women are being taken advantage of.

The Gabriela head also said that Nicole was a victim of the state and that Gabriela does not blame her for choosing to move on with her life given the fact that she and her family were going up against both the US and Philippine governments.

She also appealed to the public not to turn their anger on Nicole amidst allegations that the celebrated rape victim took advantage of the justice system. According to her, Nicole is a victim of injustice.

Rodriguez also added that the public needs to understand the real issue, saying that the furor over Nicole’s retraction is not just about individual rights but also about bigger national issues, specifically, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Bayan spokesperson Bong Responde also affirmed Gabriela’s stand, saying that Nicole’s retraction was a result of the Philippine government’s negligence in providing adequate support for Nicole during the trial and after her convicted rapist Col. Daniel Smith’s was jailed momentarily at the Makati City Jail before being whisked away to the US embassy.

Responde also said that there were attempts to pressure and coerce Nicole’s family into forcing her to retract from her sworn statements during the trial. As evidence, he explained, there were hints from her family members during media interviews.

He added that Nicole’s latest affidavit is not a loss but a confirmation of the Philippine and US government’s attempts to force Nicole into backing down.

Despite the latest development, Responde said that anti-Balikatan activities will still continue in the Region. He explained that human rights violations were escalating especially in the Partido district of this province. He also cited reports from local officials, saying that several of them were being followed by suspicious men gathering intelligence.