In the legal world, enough examples of this have been known to happen such
that the stereotype of indecisive clients probably does apply despite the
efforts of women's groups and the recent legislations intended to empower
women. Deprived enough times of the gratification to see a case to its
rightful conclusion, many public and private defenders approach the
litigation of rape cases with little emotional investment or personal
involvement. They detach and hold off worrying the moral ramifications of
the purported injustice. After all, chances are the client would not pursue
the case. Better perhaps to seek maximum gains in horse trading before she
ends up changing her mind and leaving you to mop up the platelets, plasma,
and electrolytes you expended in her behalf.
Then, too, there's this hole her case would have likely drilled in your
pocket. Most rape cases are pro bono because the victims generally could not
afford a lawyer. So the lawyer spends a fortune on paper, photocopying, and
court fees. If he's lucky. Sometimes, he has to shell out for psychological
assessment and counselling support, too.
For many lawyers, the best service they can offer rape victims is to see to
the technical aspects of the case every step of the way. It is very rare for
a rape case to become THE CASE that would put a practitioner on the legal
map, except perhaps in the case of the ill-fated Maggie dela Riva, rape's
poster child. Her case had the added dimensions of her celebrity, the social
prominence of the perpetrators, and the personal interest of the president
of the Republic. There obviously was only one way for it to be resolved. But
as a telling case in point, not very many of us could remember who her
So let's take the case of Nicole. Earlier on, she had been signifying her
desire to be assured that her prosecution team was acting in her best
interest. You could not blame the lady for wanting assurance. When all is
said and done, the burden of proof is a burden she carries. She had to know
that her team was committed to her cause.
Unfortunately for Nicole, the gloves have come off.
It looks like Nicole had enough reason to be apprehensive after all. There
hasn't been any prosecution team who had ever been so deadset to lose the
case than the one handling the Subic rape case. To fumble a relatively sure
shot at the end game speaks of how much the prosecution team was prepared to
go to secure Nicole's interest.
Betrayed in her own land and by her own people. Betrayed, it seems, by
another woman. And Nicole knew this was going to happen. Wasn't this what
she was saying all along? Her devastation yet again did not need the efforts
of the defense at all. Chad Carpentier did not even have to badmouth in
court. She already had her home team to inflict a more devastating damage to
her case. What case, you ask? It's not even her case now. Even that is
something the prosecution team is deadset on depriving Nicole.
The poverty of ethics in the conduct of the prosecution team is appalling.
By its action it has shown that it is not in the least interested in working
to secure the interest of the victim. In fact, it no longer recognizes the
victim as the victim. It hides behind the doublespeak of victimhood needing
to prove its interest to be represented. It demands unconditional trust
despite its show of betrayal.
So now they say that they are representing the Filipino people instead. Barf.
What started out as the prosecution team is turning around and turning out
to be the persecution team. In an unprecedented show of contemptible
conduct, Nicole's persecution team has refused to build the strongest case
for her on the justification that it already has a strong case for the
Filipino people. Why work harder, huh? Why do that when you can drag the
Filipino people into the equation? Punish the upstart. Rid her of her
delusion that this is about her or what happened to her one Halloween. Oh
no, this is bigger than her. The persecution team is answerable only to the
Filipino people, not to the little maggot who got dumped on the sidewalk.
Who does she think she is?
Damn right the Filipino people has been violated. The persecution team saw
to that by victimizing the victim yet again. This time, their action has the
effect of delivering the Filipino people for violation. By their insistence
that their client is the Filipino people, they show their exemplary
adherence to duty to the people in this refusal to run that last nine yards.
According to their actions, this is how to treat a Filipino in our own
courts and in our own land. And all because the persecution team obviously
never wanted to work for an ingrate who demanded to have her dignity
restored in the way she thought she had a right to.
Nicole has every right to demand justice. It seems obvious however that the
persecution team on the other hand would rather give her what is expedient.
Punish her for not toeing the line. Heck, she's been violated once. What's
another violation, huh? The malice behind the act positively drips in the
defensive barbs and the vicious body language conveyed on TV. The lack of
professionalism in public deportment – this failure to consult the client –
is appalling. The ugly whispers of brazen attempts at horse trading are
giving horses a bad name.
Carpentier shows that the men in the Subic rape case stand shoulder to
shoulder. By throwing mud at Nicole, he tries to assuage his guilt for
authorizing his man to take her for a ride, to have sex with her, and to
dump her on the sidewalk soon after. So look where his lapse in judgment got
all of them. Carpentier's court conduct is understandable. It's called
command responsibility. Not forgivable, but understandable.
It could also be interpreted as an act of male solidarity. Seen in that
light, it does underline how it is a shame that, in contrast, the women in
the Subic rape case could not get their act together if only to fight a
fight fought well.
(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion
section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology,
Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University
where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to
[email protected] gmail.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)