CA’s acquital of Smith is the end of it, says Remonde

April 25, 2009 1:07 am 

MANILA, April 24 — The dismissal by the Court of Appeals of the rape case against US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted by the lower court for raping Nicole, a Filipina in 2005, “is final and executory and we must respect the Court’s decision,” said Press Secretary Cerge Remonde.

Remonde said in his regular press briefing held this afternoon at the NBN4 studios that the Solicitor General will continue to pursue the issue of custody under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) to prevent similar problems in the future.

"But as far as the case of Smith is concerned, we all know it has already been dismissed by the appellate court and its dismissal is final and executory. As we mentioned yesterday we respect that decision," Remonde said.

As to the proposed review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, Remonde said it should emanate from the Senate, the country’s treaty-ratifying body.

“If we read the decision of the Court of Appeals it is very clear that the case was decided strictly on the merits and the VFA had no bearing at all on the merits of the case,” Remonde said.

On criticisms coming from some sectors, including the former lawyer of Nicole, “this has become an ideological, not legal, issue to some and the criticism of this sector for as long as it has anything to do with the US will always criticize and oppose. But we cannot run our government on the basis of ideology at this time. We have to be governed in accordance with our laws and our courts have spoken. We have to respect the dignity and independence of our courts,” Remonde said.

Those who do not agree with the decision of the Court of Appeals are free to do what they want, within the legal system, he added.

Remonde also branded as unfair the criticisms from the former lawyer of Nicole that the government has been remiss in its duties to protect the complainant, saying “we do not know if she is still the lawyer of Nicole because some people say she has already been discharged. So whether she can really speak for Nicole is something else.”

He said the conviction was decided by a lower court and the dismissal came from the appellate level. The prosecution and the conviction at the trial level were all from government. The government did what it has to do following the principles of due process. The courts have spoken, the people have to respect the decision of the courts.

On whether the decision of the CA is an insult to the Filipinos, Remonde said “democracy speaks in so many voices and there are so many sectors” and obviously the sector harping on this note is the ideological sector. “As I have said we have to rely on our judicial system and those not agreeing with the decision of the Court of Appeals can do what they want to do within our legal system. Of course we cannot tell them what to do or not to do because that is part of our democratic system,” Remonde said.

He said Malacanang was among the last to hear about the decision of the Court of Appeals. “When you were asking me yesterday for our response, I said we do not know anything about that yet. Of course we understand why some people would like to blame Malacanang for everything that they do not like but I think that most of our people understand what is due process and in this case the conduct, discharge and the handling of this case was in accordance with our legal system and in accordance with the rule of law.” (PNA)



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