TAGUM CITY— Various sectoral organizations are now pushing for the turn-over of Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Navy man implicated in the killing of a transgender last Saturday to the Philippine authorities.
Pemberton was identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor Tuesday.
In a statement, Kapederesyon, a local sectoral organization for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT), said it demanded the US government to respect the country’s laws by handing over the US Marine who was held in custody since Sunday.
Corky Hope Maranan, spokesperson of Kapederasyon, condemned the killing of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, a transgender woman and called for a speedy investigation so that perpetrators will be put behind bars.
“We demand that the suspect be handed over to Philippine authorities now! We also call for the immediate junking of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which has been proven to be one-sided as it protects the rights only of the “visitors” and not of the Filipino people,” the group said.
“We join the demand to assert the country’s laws and have the suspect face Philippine court,” the group added.
Kapederasyon said that “foreign soldiers have overstayed their visit and have abused our hospitality. They must leave now lest we want more crimes to be done against us.”
“We call for a thorough investigation and swift justice, and warn the government that we will remain vigilant against efforts to cover-up the facts of the case and give special treatment to the suspected perpetrator who was identified as a United States soldier,” said Maranan.
Maranan said the “killing of Jennifer is enraging and abominable, but we are alarmed even more so to know that the crime was allegedly triggered by the victim’s gender.”
The killing of Laude came as the Catholic church recently made a “revolutionary” shift of ideology towards the LGBT.
On Monday, a Vatican document entitled “Relatio” said that “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community” and asked if the church could openly accept and value homosexuals and same-sex couples without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony.
The three-part document discussed the Vatican’s position on family issues, family relations, homosexuality and marital unions, among others, which serves as a working paper to be discussed at the Synod 11th General Assembly of 200 bishops in Rome.
The Vatican has regarded homosexuality as a “disorder” but last year, Pope Francis said the church must be more kindhearted with homosexuals, saying: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Maranan, on the other hand, added that hate crimes continue to be “a persistent nightmare of the LGBT sector. Every day, hundreds of our kapederasyon are subjected to hate speech, discrimination, and violence.”
She added that Laude’s case is “a bitter reminder that our cause to advance the recognition, respect, and equal treatment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) is relevant and urgent.”
On Tuesday, the US Embassy in Manila issued a public statement that it will cooperate with Philippines authorities, saying “the United States will continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation.”
In a separate statement Tuesday, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said “the Laude case will now test claims of the Aquino government that agreements entered into by the Philippine government with the United States allows citizens a venue for grievances and the dispensation of justice in cases involving US troops.”
“The immediate suspension, if not the outright unilateral termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Coordination Agreement is in order following alleged involvement of a US military serviceman in the death of Jeffrey Laude,” said Ilagan.
“Let justice take its course and let the Philippine justice system function. It will never be enough that the suspect is now being investigated by the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service or that he is being detained in US naval facilities docked in our shores. The suspect must be jailed in our prison facilities and he must face the consequence of his crime in our courts,” said Ilagan. (davaotoday.com)