Davao City – Women and gay rights advocates in the city joined other multisectoral groups in the country to condemn the brutal killing of Filipina transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in a Global Day of Action for Justice held Friday.
Members of Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party-Davao were joined by gay rights advocates including Makabayan-LGBT, and Kafederacion-Davao in a candle lighting activity to seek justice for Laude.
“This is a Global Day of Action for Justice initiated by Gabriela. In the Philippines, women’s groups and Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders or LGBT organizations from Olongapo. Baguio, Iloilo, Angeles, Batangas, Laguna, Davao and the National Capital Region confirmed their participation,” said Mary Ann Sapar, Secretary General of GABRIELA-Davao .
“We join the family of Jennifer in demanding the US government to turnover to Philippine authorities the custody of Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton,” Sapar said.
Pemberton, a United States Marine Corps, was the prime suspect in the killing of Laude.
In a statement released Thursday, GABRIELA demanded the US to “show Pemberton to prove that he is still in the country and surrender him to Philippine authorities for custody now that he is already facing murder charges under Philippine law.
“For all we know, he may have already been slipped into the other ships that were allowed to leave the country,” said GABRIELA National Secretary General Joms Salvador.
Meanwhile BieJay Absin, a member of Kafederacion-Davao said that the killing of Laude is “an affront against gays in general.”
“It is crime that violated the rights of gays from all over the world,” Absin said.
Kafederacion-Davao believes that the killing also “proves that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) breeds killers of Filipinos.”
“History will tell how many of our countrymen have been killed because of VFA, because they know that they can get away with it,” Absin said.
In 2005, the rape case of a Filipino known as ‘Nicole’, by Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith also took place in Olongapo.
Nicole was brought inside a van with Smith and other US soldiers and was later left lying on the side of the road.
In December 2005, charges were filed against Smith. After a year of trial, the court of Makati sentenced Smilth to life imprisonment. But Smith was later transferred to the US Embassy for custody.
On February 3, 2010, a Filipino who worked as an interpreter for the US Troops in Marawi was also brutally killed.
Gregan Cardeño was discovered dead inside his room in the Joint Special Operation Task Force (JSOTFP) military headquarters after “committing suicide” according to the US troops and the Philippine National Police in Marawi.
But Cardeño’s family believed that Gregan was murdered after they received a series of distressed calls from him the day before he died.
According to human rights groups, even the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was not allowed to investigate inside the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry brigade where the US troops were housed in Marawi.
“It shows that our government prioritizes their interest to defend the agreements with the US government so they could access loans, and other things, in exchange of the welfare of our people,” he said.
Absin added that loans from the US government were not even “beneficial to the Filipino people and only went to corruption.”
The group has also criticized the Enhanced Defensed Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US.
Sapar said that it is “lopsided and only serves the interest of the US government.”
Under the agreement the US is allowed to build structures, store and preposition weapons including defense supplies, station troops, personnel, defense contractors, vehicles, vessels and aircrafts for ten years.
On the other hand, petitioners of the agreement believed EDCA is unconstitutionals saying it would grant US “carta blanche power to establish and operate de facto military bases anywhere on Philippine soil, minus the cost of paying for one.”
Sapar added that EDCA states that only the US has jurisdiction over their troops who commit crimes in the Philippines.
“Whatever crime they do here in the country, the US Marines will never be held accountable by our laws,” Sapar said.
“That is why we enjoin all Filipinos to join the calls in scrapping VFA and EDCA,” she said.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno announced Thursday that the Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for the petitions against EDCA. (davaotoday.com)