Smith’s supporters hold Mass in Makati jail

- Michael Punongbayan -
Supporters of convicted rapist Daniel Smith offered prayers and lit candles in front of the Makati City jail Friday night in their belief that the 21-year-old US Marine is not guilty of raping a Filipina in Subic, Zambales last year.

Members of the newly formed group Justice for Daniel Smith (JDS) gathered for a Mass celebrated by Jesuit priest Fr. James Reuter, one of the American soldier’s spiritual advisers.

They also brought gifts for the US Marine, who is detained at the records room of the Makati jail, where he was brought for temporary confinement after the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) sentenced him to reclusion perpetua or 40 years imprisonment on Dec. 4.

JDS members brought Smith three Hershey’s chocolate bars, a bull-bar and a handgrip, which jailguards received on Smith’s behalf.

JDS leader Grace Santos said they are still a small organization but they are growing in number and are receiving communication from people across the nation who want to join their cause.

She said they now have 46 members composed of military wives, students, professionals who believe that Smith is innocent.

"We are fighting for Daniel’s freedom, for him to go home. He is innocent," Santos told The STAR.

She also announced that the JDS will hold nightly vigils at the jail’s front gate starting tomorrow.

Reuter, in his homily, said the special Mass for Smith coincides with the first Mass of the traditional Simbang Gabi.

In coming to the Makati jail for a Mass, he told Smith’s supporters, "what you are giving is yourself, your time, your energy, your thoughts, and above all, your prayer.

"Granting now that Danny is having a very hard time and he feels that he is carrying a cross — and all of you in this time of depression, you feel you’re carrying your cross also," Reuter said. "When that happens, sometimes you wonder ‘is God listening to my prayers, does God care, is there a God?’"

"God always listens and God always answers." Reuter added: "He answers in the wisdom and love of God, he is wiser than any of us. He answers to every prayer that you say and that is the way He would answer Danny and, with you. If you cannot give beautiful gifts at Christmas time, you give yourself."

Reuter said the act of coming to the Makati jail’s front gate to give time and prayer "for this boy who is in jail is no small thing because all of us someday will go home to God."

He said all people will have to stand all alone before God’s throne for judgment and, when that happens, when it’s time to stand before God, "He’s not going to say to you, ‘how much money did you make?’ ‘How big was your house?’ ‘How many cars did you have?’"

"He’s going to say I was in prison and you came to visit me — and you’ll be puzzled at that and you’ll say, ‘Lord when did I do this?’ You are doing this right now," he said.

"The boy that you are praying for, a boy who is a relative stranger to you, every good thing that you do for him, you are doing for God," Reuter said, quoting the New Testament of the Bible. "So long that you have done it for the least of My little ones, you have done it to Me."

He said Smith is afraid of how his mother would feel if she sees him in jail when she comes to visit.

Reuter told The STAR that Smith has no plans of running away from the case, as is feared by those opposing the move to return him to the custody of the US Embassy while his case is on appeal. — With Sheila Mae Milan

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