It seems that legally, there is nothing to stop Daniel Smith from walking away as a free man. The fact that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) verdict penned by Judge Benjamin Pozon was overturned by three female justices will only serve to enhance whatever "credibility" Daniel Smith's acquittal has.
However, I doubt whether "Nicole" will really be able to move on with her life. The stigma she carries in her person is no longer that of a rape victim but of "a girl who cried wolf." When a woman is raped, she is clearly the victim. But when she cries "Rape!" and then the whole nation comes over to her side, wins her case and then, all of a sudden she cries "No Rape!" without even talking to her lawyer, let alone the nation that stood united behind her, then what do you call that?!
I'm not saying this to pass judgment at "Nicole." She's been through a lot. But she does have some responsibilities to a nation that has shown tremendous concern and caring for her during the darkest hours of her ordeal.
Depending on how it handles this development, the Supreme Court of the Philippines could turn out to be one of the biggest losers here. The CA decision clearly jumped the gun on our highest tribunal.
The question is, will the magistrates of the Supreme Court just say "Moot and academic!" or are they going to address the moral and ethical issues that are embedded in the actuations of the Court of Appeals and the lawyers of Daniel Smith? The next few days and weeks should give us the answer.
It goes without saying that even the credibility of the moral force movement launched by Chief Justice Reynato Puno is also at stake here.
But the biggest loser in this drama is the Philippines. Are we going to search for a way to redeem Filipino honor by say, scrapping the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), or are we, as a nation just going to give up and say, "there's no more Filipino honor to redeem!"
I say let's SCRAP THE VFA!
Here are related videos courtesy of gmanewstv. They show Senator Chiz Escudero calling for the scrapping of the VFA, interviews of Attys. Evalyn Ursua and Jose Justiniano, a reaction from the mother of "Nicole," and a report on the possible whereabouts of Daniel Smith:
24 April 2009 12:44pm UPDATE
I'm watching QTV's Balitanghali and they've just reported an
announcement by the US Embassy that Daniel Smith has left
the Philippines for the United States.