When “hardly” means “very:” English lessons in court

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Witnesses: Ramon Paje, SBMA Intelligence and Investigation Office

Hard in Filipino is matigas or something of an extreme. That was the context in which an investigator described ‘Nicole’, the complainant in the controversial Subic rape case as “hardly drunk.” 

Investigator Ramon Paje of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Intelligence and Investigation Office (IIO) admitted during the hearing at Makati Regional Trial Court that when he drafted his report on the case, he thought that “hardly drunk” in Filipino meant lasing na lasing (very drunk). He said ‘Nicole’ was “very weak, reeked of liquor and in a state of shock” when he first saw her.  

For almost two hours, lawyers of the four US servicemen accused of raping a Filipina grilled Paje on his English proficiency. Lawyer Jose Justiniano, counsel for Lance Corporal Keith Silkwood, repeatedly tested how Paje understood the term “hardly.” 

Justiniano first asked Paje if “I could hardly see you” to him meant “Hindi kita gaanong makita” or “Bahagya kitang makita.” After Paje answered in the affirmative, the lawyer again asked if “I could hardly hear you” meant “Hindi kita gaanong marinig” or “Bahagya kitang marinig.”  

With both arms raised, Paje snapped, “I have already told you, sir. Di ako masyado magaling. (I am not that good.)”  Paje admitted that he is not fluent in English, both written and oral. Investigators in IIO however, are required to write reports in English. 

Defense lawyers were bent on establishing that “hardly drunk” actually meant barely drunk because it would be easier for them to prove that the 22-year-old complainant consciously consented to sex.  

Justiniano also asked Paje if he understood the terms “Caucasian,” “assaulted,” “bar-hopping,” “disseminate” and “adjacent” that he used in his report.  

He inquired into the investigator’s educational attainment. Paje said he finished tertiary school at the Ramon Magsaysay University. Justiniano mistook “tertiary” for third year college and the prosecution lawyers had to clarify that the term meant college level. 

The defense lawyers also grilled Paje on his investigative skills especially on how he handled the evidence, including a pair of denim pants, a panty and a used condom. Paje said he just looked at but did not touch the items that were placed inside a brown paper bag. He said that he wanted to preserve and not contaminate the evidence. 

Meanwhile, under direct examination by private prosecutor Evalyn Ursua, IIO investigator Melchor Deliquina denied the allegation that Timoteo Soriano, the driver of the Kia Starex van used in the alleged rape, was forced to include “gang rape” in the statement he gave on November 2 last year. 

Deliquina said Soriano willingly conceded to the interview conducted by IIO Intelligence Division chief Paquito Torres. Before starting the interview, Torres read Soriano his constitutional rights, as it is the standard procedure in their office. 

Deliquina said that Torres treated Soriano as a witness. The driver, he said, was relaxed and answered questions properly, though there were times when he had to pause and think. 

All throughout the interview, Deliquinia said, people went in and out of the office where the questioning was held. Among them were SBMA Director JV Magsaysay and his wife, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay; two agents of the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service and another IIO investigator named Villaluz. 

The interview lasted from 11 p.m. of November 2 to 1 a.m. of the next day, after which Torres asked Soriano to read his statement before he signed it. Deliquina, who was two to three meters away from Soriano, said he saw the driver sign and write “Opo (Yes)” to the last item of the statement. 

In an earlier testimony by Torres, he said that he deliberately left the last item blank so Soriano could sign it. The gesture meant Soriano understood and agreed to the contents of the statement. However, last April, Soriano told the media and drew up an affidavit that he submitted during the preliminary investigation of the case, that Torres punched him twice and coerced him to include “gang rape” in his statement.  

Deliquina said Torres asked him to photograph the physical evidence, which included ‘Nicole’s’ jeans and panty, a used condom and its foil wrapper, a medicine wrapper, the van, and the trip ticket issued to those when it was rented.  

Defense lawyers asked Deliquina if he noticed tears or seminal stains on the jeans and panty when he photographed them. He said there were none. The Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, which examined the articles of clothing also indicated the absence of seminal stains on both items.  

Prosecutor Ursua said, however, that the absence of seminal stains does not mean rape did not occur. She added that even the law does not require that seminal stains be present to prove that rape happened.  

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4 Comments

  1. jay said,

    September 18, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Now that we heard Nicole’s side, we should also listen to the defense evidence before we pass judgment. I’m sorry to say that I’m starting to
    formulate a personal conclusion that Smith was seduced that’s why everything happened the way it happened. However, I’m still willing to wait and see before I make my final personal judgment

  2. jay said,

    September 18, 2006 at 7:55 am

    Now that we heard Nicole’s side, we should also listen to the defense evidence before we pass judgment. I’m sorry to say that I’m starting to
    formulate a personal conclusion that Smith was seduced that’s why everything happened the way it happened. However, I’m still willing to wait and see before I make my final personal judgment

  3. roselle rivera said,

    September 22, 2006 at 1:13 pm

    dear jay,

    since you said you are waiting to hear the defense side, please also take time to read carefully the left side of this website “understanding rape better.” this whole website was prepared by committed professionals, concerned individuals, several non profit organizations, women’s rights workers– all who have been working closely with survivors of violence against women for decades.

    reading these and the information on the website will definitely help you formulate a sound perspective on rape and violence against women.

    roselle

  4. bryan said,

    November 8, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    roselle yes maybe for those real rape victims and not a PROFESSIONAL HOOKER LIKE NICOLE…i bet u should also take time in gathering the background of this bitch so ul fully understand what r u fighting for?ok


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