What motivates a Filipina to face the scrutiny of a nation to lodge a high-profile rape case against a US serviceman, if it was not for the overriding need to seek justice for a wrong done?
Money? Looking at Suzette “Nicole” Nicolas family background, it could not be money because her family operates a thriving canteen for the US soldiers in Mindanao.That she graduated from a reputed Ateneo school speaks something of her family’s financial capacity to send her to such an exclusive school.
Fame? What fame could a woman get from crying out loud that she was raped when the stigma attached to it is more akin to gaining entry to the Hall of Shame than to a Hall of Fame?
This is the heart of the matter of the story of “Nicole”, the Filipina who won a case against a US soldier two years ago and who just recently issued a recantation saying that no rape actually took place. She was the first Filipina to lead the conviction of a US serviceman, US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.
The different groups , women groups who supported her fight during the widely- covered trial and who rejoiced with her when the court ruled in favor of Nicole, still recoil from the shock of such turn-about.
A lot of groups who , specially the women’s groups who made her a national symbol of the fight against different forms of abuse that visiting soldiers of a superpower like the United States, were disappointed and were dismayed. They blamed the GMA government and the US Department for exerting pressures to Nicole for her to take back her earlier testimony. The case has become a sensitive issue under the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement. Under the treaty, the Philippines has no jurisdiction over the conduct of US soldiers deployed in military exercises anywhere in the country. Many believe the story of Nicole when she testified that she was raped by the US serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.
Nevertheless, they knew and appreciated the ordeal that Nicole and her family went through during and after the trial and her need to start a new life.
That Nicole and her family’s cited their frustration for the slow justice in the country, for giving up the fight , speaks volume of their hunger for justice. And why should they hunger for justice if Nicole was not really an aggrieved party? If there was really no rape that took place?
The truth still lies and will die with Nicole. But as a victim trying to go beyond surviving by taking back her life and starting anew, ironically, in the United States, may Nicole find herself again. As a survivor of rape, Nicole cannot act like nothing happened. For her to be able to find herself and start on the road to healing and self –forgiveness, she has to admit the loss that such experience has resulted. She has to admit the truth, even to herself alone. Only then shall she be able to set herself free.