Jennifer Laude, 26, Filipino, Transgender-woman, Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, U.S. Marine Soldier and the People of the Philippines
Case in Point
Jennifer Laude is a Filipino who was murdered by an American soldier on October 11, 2014 during the Rest and Recreation of the Marine Soldiers who recently did series of exercises in Subic port. Her body was found in a motel room by a staff minutes after her assailant left the building. She was seen with her face dipped in the toilet bowl; no movement; no sign of life. This showcases how little we are as citizens of this country in the eyes of the “visiting” Americans – how little are the women, transgender women, and Filipinos. That exemplify how the United States of America treats the Philippines. They can slap us, they can maltreat us, they can bang our heads in a toilet seat and they can kill us. This, for a few knows, is not an isolated case. There are many cases filed in the court against the violations of American Soldiers in our local places yet nothing happened to them, not even to one. This is why we are clamoring for the cancellation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Visiting Forces Agreement
The Philippine government has an existing agreement with the American government – it states how visiting American forces should be treated, though they are classified as visitors, we, the Filipino people cannot tell them to leave our country. We cannot even dictate what they should do or where they may go. This agreement reflects what kind of agreement our government has with that of the United States of America. This is therefore, a test, to our leaders where it is being showed the real effect of the agreement. If the perpetrator is also a Filipino, he could have been arrested as soon as possible, or put on trial or already undergone DNA testing, but it is otherwise, the process of justice and due process is more complicated – things are more difficult simply because the perpetrator is an American. So what does this show? There is that special treatment to U.S. soldier to those who commit violations. But this case is not a simple violation – this is a violation of human rights – this is murder. Does this mean it is free to strangle anyone, or to rape or to kill anybody so as long as you are an American soldier? If this issue does not get good action, it will only develop among all American soldiers that they are protected and can do whatever they please. They develop that sense of immunity and sense of impunity as if they can commit freely all sorts of crimes because they are very much shielded with VFA and this makes the case of Jennifer Laude different. We should further understands that this is not a simply ending of a life because it has to be understood in its whole context. They say that the VFA is beneficial to our military forces because they train our Filipino soldiers but some reports are otherwise. Take Zambales for example, the Aetas (Indigenous filipino people) are the one training them. Its them learning from us not us learning from them. And aside learning from us, the can hurt, rape, kill anyone they pleases to. I hope that we will all take this as not only Jennifer’s case but a case of us all against the American violators – that this is a fight of the Filipino People seeking justice against the abusive agreement we have. How in the fucking blue hell are we expecting a 19 year old American to “train” our Filipino Soldiers.
The Battle in Custody
As for me, in this sole case, I equate Custody with Justice. If the Philippine criminal law will not have the criminal custody of the accused then it’s like justice hasn’t been served at all. We can’t have the custody even after proving Pemberton is guilty because that is what is stated in the VFA. Up until today, nobody can ever attest that they have seen Pemberton. Allegedly, he is currently detained in a facility where no Filipino police nor soldiers can get inside. Whereas it is being guarded by American Soldiers. Whereas even if that facility is inside a Philippine Military Base, it is considered a territory of the America because that is what is being stated in the VFA. The side of Laude filed an Omnibus Motion to the court to have Pemberton undergo specimen testing to be cross-matched with the condom with fresh seminal fluid and fecal materials found in the motel room where Jennifer was found dead. The American embassy said that the case have their full support but when asked if that mean they will show Pemberton before the court as a form of cooperation to the case he said only what is being stated in the VFA is what we are going to follow. This is a clear circumvention of the law where we use law in their sole interest. U.S. serves no interest other that its own interest – nothing more. U.S. is not here to serve the Filipino people, U.S. soldiers are not here to protect us. Aren’t our government need to serve our interest? If the U.S. government is so determined to protect its soldiers and care for their interest, then why can’t our government do the same to the Laude Family, to us – the so called boss? This is the kind of government we have today: not-so pro-filipino.
This can happened not only in Olongapo, but in every place where VFA happens.
Dear Bashers of Laude (Honor)
Jennifer is gay, in fact, a transgender-woman. She has a German fiance but still wanted to have sex to other man. But this, all these, does not serves as permit to kill her. For those of you who have been saying that it is only just for her to suffer what she did, you are clearly siding with evil. We, as imperfect people, have freedom of opinion but we are not called to cast them with prejudice.
Happy Birthday Jennifer
Allow me to call her “she” as this is her gender preference and I want to give that choice to her until afterlife. November 4, 2014 is Jennifer’s birthday. She is a good daughter and a selfless one, too. She takes care of her mother’s medicines, her younger sibling’s education and her uncle’s treatment to stroke. Jennifer told her nephew who is also gay: “Don’t let anyone look down to us just because we are gay. We have worth, and we will show them that.” She is not moneyed, she is poor. But she is able to help her friends financially to the last coin she have. Selfless, indeed. For one night, she thought about herself, what she wants, what makes her happy for a very short time, but it took one ruthless man to take away the life of the rose from its garden in Olongapo. This should be treated as a Hate Crime. May this open positive discussion on gender sensitivity, LGBT rights that will encourage tolerance and acceptance. May the power of rainbow be with you and your family. and to all members o the LGBT community and to all victims of VFA and to all Filipinos fighting for sovereignty.
The poem says “Jennifer, Jennifer, why so quiet, are you there? We don’t need to send you flowers, to those who love you, you’re a flower. When you’re gone, out will come, multitudes will bloom, thousands will flower!”
This song I dedicate to all those who, in every morning they wake up, faces prejudice that stabs through and through:
*Guided by the Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya perspective,