“Sámbayanáng Pilipino, patawarin ako sa kasalanang ipinaratang ninyo sa akin. Pilipino, pinatáy ng kapwa Pilipino.”
(“People of the Philippines, absolve me of the sin which you have charged me. A Filipino was killed by fellow Filipino.)
These were supposedly the last words of condemned rapist Leo Echagaray before his veins were fried by lethal cocktail of chemicals courtesy of the Republic of the Philippines. To his very last breath, the convicted rapist swore to his innocence. It is unthinkable that a person who is just seconds away from meeting his Creator will still maintain a lie – the natural thing to do is to repent unabashedly and take advantage for a God’s overflowing mercy – just like the lucky thief in the Bible. But no one seemed to notice this irony (maybe except the Leo’s wife, Zenaida who swore to his husband’s innocence to the very end). The State and all its resources chose to believe the supposed rape victim “Baby” Echagaray’s version and blocked the possibility of a last minute reprieve.
What happened to Echagaray will likely to happen to any person accused of rape as long as the law’s bias in favour of the rape victim stands. In the Philippines, convicting somebody with the crime of rape is relatively an easy task. It law on evidence gives considerable weight to the rationale that “the meek Filipina woman, who is full of virtues, will not cry rape and risk public scandal if such accusation (of rape) is untrue.” What more, Philippine courts have sustained convictions of rape by the victim’s testimony alone when the same is found trustworthy.
But then the Philippine legal system has seen several women who lied through their teeth and caused conviction of the accused. Remember Jessica Alfaro of the Vizconde Massacre trial. She singlehandedly brought Hubert Webb and his gang down. Only to find out several years later that she has made inconsistent statements that even the Philippine Supreme Court considered to be incredible. All the time Webb and his co-accused languished in the worst of jails.
Another example is the infamous Subic rape case involving Suzette “Nichole” Nicolas and boy-faced American serviceman Daniel Smith. After all the high profile legal hullabaloo which subjected Smith to unthinkable humiliation and scandal, “Nichole” merely chose to back out as if nothing happened. Thereafter, nothing is heard about her as she just vanished into thin air! Smith, on the other hand, must have suffered terribly (post-traumatic stress syndrome) because of the controversy. Without a proper resolution of his rape case, people will continue to doubt him and treat him as an alleged rapist.
This brings us to the hottest item nowadays – the accusation of rape against Vhong Navarro by starlet model Deniece Cornejo.
As the unfolding of events comes to a halt, it is clear as a summer day that the allegations made by Deniece and her knight and shining armour, Cedric Lee have been belied by CCTV footages. It is most likely that Deniece’s half-baked accusation will boomerang against her and snuff her rape charges against Vhong. But then again, the alleged rapist has already suffered national shame. Vhong has already been damaged physically and psychologically (despite the overflowing support given to Vhong, there still a considerable number of Filipinos who agree that rape – or its attempted form could have happened). And what if Deneice and Cedric just took time to polish their acts like taking note of the fact that the condominium have CCTVS? Or if Deneice only did some good acting and able to entice Vhong to have rough sex with her. She could easily prove that she was raped by having a bruised vagina, right? In such a parallel universe, Vhong could never recover and claim that he was set-up. He is good as hauled to a smelly prison to await his criminal court hearings. Lucky Vhong, Deniece and Cedric seemed to have blundered their acts.
Now what can we do about women who can easily lie through convincing facial expressions (complete with tears and snorts?) Isn’t the criminal dockets of the country full of rape cases – most of which have the traces of a Vhong-Deneice episode?
Philippine law makers should start legislating a “Girl Cried Wolf” law wherein women who maliciously charge men with rape will be penalised just like skalawag cops are punished for planting evidence in a drug raid. These women should be discouraged from easily accusing another of rape most especially when the damage they can cause is not only life-shattering but life-altering.