Ursua said however that what is more painful for Nicole and her family is the thought that the Philippine government did not provide any support for their case.
“Mula umpisa hanggang ngayon, kampi sa US [ang gobyerno natin],” (Right from the start and up to now, our government has been siding with the US.) Ursua said.
Ursua was able to talk to Nicole’s mother. She said that with the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the VFA, the family felt pain once again. “Lumalabas, gobyerno kalaban nila…Hanggang ngayon, tinatraydor pa rin si Nicole.” (It appears that they are up against the government. Up to now, Nicole is being betrayed by the government.)
Ursua said, “Our institutions are so weak to counter pressure from the US government. Who would think that the [Supreme Court] decision was not influenced by the American government?”
Speaking on Hazel’s case, Salvador said that the Philippine government consistently neglected the victim.
Salvador said that Hazel relied on the support of the Filipino community in Okinawa. In fact, she said, the Philippine consulate did not even bother to provide her shelter. She was only provided a lawyer three days before the case at the Naha Prosecutor’s Office was dismissed.
Salvador also slammed the silence of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Arroyo administration on the dismissal of the rape charges against Hopstock at the US court martial.
The Gabriela spokesperson said, “Sadly, the Philippine government is in cahoots with the US government in denying justice to the Nicole and Hazel. In its total subservience to the US government, the Philippine government can sacrifice the country’s sovereignty and dignity.”
Lawyer Evalyn Ursua discusses the Subic rape case, Visiting Forces Agreement and the Philippine government’s subservience to the US government.(Photo by R. Olea)
Ursua recognized that the solution is political.
On February 26, Ursua and other groups filed a motion for reconsideration regarding the Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the VFA.
“The support of the people is critical at this point,” said Ursua.
Ursua said the Supreme Court is sensitive to public opinion. “Kung maraming Pilipino tutol sa desisyon, magkakaroon ng epekto ‘yan.” (If a lot of Filipinos would show that they are against the Supreme Court decision, it would have an effect on the High Court.)
Pending Smith’s appeal, Ursua said Smith’s acquittal at the Court of Appeals would be most convenient for the US and Philippine governments. “That way, they need not give the custody of Smith back to the Philippine government.”
“Napakakritikal na manalo tayo sa puntong ito ng ating kasaysayan,” said Ursua. “Ang pagdepensa natin kay Nicole ay pagdepensa natin sa ating sarili.” (At this point in history, it is very critical that we win the case. While defending Nicole’s rights, we are likewise defending our rights.)
Salvador, meanwhile, noted the revival of anti-VFA sentiments. “Malacañang na lang ang pinakamatibay na tagapagtanggol ng VFA. Ihatid natin ang political pressure sa Malacañang.” (It is Malacanang that is the most adamant in defending the VFA. Let us bring political pressure at the doorsteps of Malacañang.)
“We must struggle against the VFA and fight for the dignity and sovereignty of our nation,” said Salvador.
Gabriela reiterated their call to pull out American troops not only in the Philippines but also in Southeast Asia.(Bulatlat.com)