US has little regard for justice and Philippine sovereignty
Our shock and horror over the gruesome killing of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer (legal name: Jeffrey) Laude allegedly by a US serviceman are accompanied by grave concern about how the case will progress and the kind of justice that might prevail in the end given the circumstances surrounding the case:
- The crime committed and the suspect are covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States that puts a Filipino crime victim at a disadvantage. A provision in the VFA allows the United States custody of a crime suspect who is a member of the US
- Laude, the latest victim, is a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community that, in present society, continues to suffer discrimination, marginalization, exclusion, and hate crimes. Such is the result of centuries-old societal biases toward those who “do not fit” into the so-called mainstream.
- The victim belongs to a family of humble means whose resources might not see them through the whole legal process, while the suspect has the whole US military might behind him.
We do not want to see a repeat of a past case that saw a rape suspect spirited away by his US defenders through the use of wile and force, resulting in the victim’s capitulation (despite overwhelming support from antiviolence against women advocates) and an acquittal.
Laude is dead and cannot give an account of what happened. We call on witnesses to put aside fear and come forward with what they know. We call on Laude’s family and supporters to stay the course and not be cowed into giving up. We call on Laude’s critics to hold their judgment. We call on our government officials and lawmakers to reexamine the onerous provisions in the VFA.
Even while protecting the rights of a US citizen, in this case, PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, who is a crime suspect, the US government should refrain from using might to get its own brand of justice, with little regard for Philippine sovereignty.
We pray that genuine justice based on the truth will be served, for both the victim and the accused.
—SIGNED BY THE CHAIRS, CHAIR EMERITUS AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE OFFICE OF WOMEN AND GENDER CONCERNS-ASSOCIATION OF MAJOR RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS OF THE PHILIPPINES
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