By May Ann Love Deseo, Davao Today Intern
DAVAO CITY — Militant groups said they are opposing the “special treatment” afforded to Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton who is now detained in Camp Aguinaldo after being convicted for homicide for the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.
The US soldier was brought to Camp Aguinaldo instead of the New Bilibid Prison, opposing Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde’s decision.
“No more special treatment for Pemberton! This is a clear demonstration of how lopsided and unjust the Visiting Forces Agreement is. This military agreement entered into by the Philippine government with the US denies justice for Jennifer and denies justice for a people violated,” said Gabriela Women’s Party representatives Luzviminda Ilagan in a statement.
Rep. Emmi De Jesus, also from Gabriela, said that this shows how some provisions under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) are not to be considered.
Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, it reads that a US soldier in joint military exercises in the Philippines who is convicted of a crime in the country shall be detained in a facility agreed upon by the Philippine and US sides.
Ilagan said the US government’s defiance of the ruling issued by the Philippine court by bringing Pemberton to Camp Aguinaldo transgresses Philippine sovereignty.
The League of Filipino Students- Northern Mindanao Region (LFS-NMR) also expressed their dismay saying that they also demand that the Pemberton should not receive any special treatment.
LFS-NMR Spokesperson Kristine Cabardo said dangers of the VFA and Enhanced Defensed Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) have been highlighted with Laude’s case.
“This special treatment does not only trample our national sovereignty, but also poses grave danger to our women and children, who might be the next victim of criminals like Pemberton,” she said.
Meanwhile, Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said the court seemed to have downgraded its decision.
“The decision was a safe mode for Olongapo RTC Judge Jabalde, a win-win formula so that she can’t get the ire of Washington by ordering a shorter jail sentence for the convicted US marine personnel,” said Hicap.
Jabalde sentenced Pemberton to 6-12 years imprisonment for homicide. The charge was lowered from murder due to mitigating circumstances cited by the court including Pemberton’s statement that Laude did not reveal her real gender.
De Jesus also challenged the Philippine government to assert the sovereignty of Philippine laws and ensure the enforcement of the court ruling.
“Justice will never be complete and the VFA will continue to become an instrument of injustice that spares abusers from the full force of Philippine laws,” she said. (davaotoday.com)