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Author Topic: Rape case filed by a Filipino woman against four accused US Marines  (Read 136 times)

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THE VERDICT: WHAT WILL IT BE?
By Atty. Check Baluma
Published: November 26, 2006 by The Bohol Standard

The much awaited moment, the promulgation of the judgment involving the rape case filed by a Filipino woman against four accused US Marines will be known soon. The rape case, which has captured the national limelight for more than a year already, will draw to a conclusion soon, with several cause-oriented groups and supporters of the rape victim, only named as “ Nicole” closely monitoring the situation.

Originally, the promulgation of the decision was scheduled tomorrow, November 27, 2006, however, the presiding judge hearing the controversial Subic Rape case rescheduled the promulgation from November 27 to December 4, 2006 at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Makati City Regional Trial Court Judge Benjamin Pozon was quoted in the Philippine Star, November 25, 2006 issue as having said in his interim order “ To render a fair and just decision, the court is constrained, much to its regret, to reset the promulgation of judgment in this case on December 4 at 1 p.m.”. The deferment of the promulgation is clearly within the discretion of the Presiding Judge. No wonder, both the lawyers for the prosecution and the accused interposed no objections to the resetting of the promulgation.

Judges should not sacrifice quantity of decisions for quality, but they should never forget the old saying that goes “ Justice delayed is justice denied”. No amount of media gimmick could ever restore the image of a Judiciary if a serious blunder is committed on this point. It is because our Courts are considered as the last bulwark or bastion of democracy. When the people lose their faith and trust with the Courts, our society will be filled with chaos and lawlessness. Certainly, a well- studied and prepared decision is needed at this point of time in order to erase all doubts as far as the impartiality of the proceedings is concerned. A hastily prepared judgment which does not clearly set out the facts and the laws on which the judgment is based, would do no favor to our already troubled and divided nation . The rape case, which allegedly happened on November 1, 2005 at the formal US naval base in Subic, has caught the attention not only of our local media, but as well as the foreign media, more specially the American media. The prosecution presented a total of 23 witnesses while the defense presented six during the four- month long marathon hearings. This rape case has a historical significance to the Philippines, since it will once more put to a legal test the Visiting Forces Agreement. In the past, to recall, there were many oppositors to the VFA, as it was viewed as a treaty or pact which only sided with the Americans. Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, a US serviceman may be tried for violation of Philippine laws for only one year.

Without going over the merits of the case, as this breaches with the sub judice principle, we are inserting hereto some of the guidelines and pronouncements laid no less by our Supreme Court in rape cases:

“The guiding principles in determining guilt in rape cases are: (1) that an accusation of rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove, but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (b) that in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime which usually involves two persons, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and (c) that the evidence of the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence of the defense.” ( People vs. Ulit, 423 SCRA 374)

The absence of spermatozoa does not of course negate rape. ( People vs. Alibuyog, 425 SCRA 353).

In rape cases, the lone testimony of the victim, if credible and free from fatal and material inconsistencies and contradictions, can be the basis for the prosecution and conviction of the accused. ( People vs. Oden, 427 SCRA 634).

Physical resistance is not an essential element of the felony, and need not be established when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself against her will to the rapist’s embrace because of fear for her life and personal safety. Failure to shout or offer tenacious resistance did not make voluntary the complainant’s submission to the criminal acts of the accused. ( People vs. Alberio, 433 SCRA 469)

As to what will be the verdict on this controversial case, your intelligent guess is as good as mine. But as good citizens, rest assured that the forthcoming decision would be supported by the facts and the law in observance of the basic requirements of a decision, as provided by our Constitution.
Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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