Laude’s killing not an isolated case
Here we are, slaves to this day—slaves in the land that you gave to our ancestors to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts (Nehemiah 9:36).
No justification exists for the killing of transgender person Jennifer Laude. She was brutally murdered—her bruised and lifeless body found leaning against the toilet bowl. Primary suspect US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was part of a 3,500-member US contingent to the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement)-sanctioned military exercises conducted in the Philippines.
“Hate crime” is the conclusion of the police. Yes, the brutal killing was not an accident or an act of self-defense. Jennifer’s death highlighted the one-sided, unjust, pro-US bias of the VFA, and it exposed the vulnerability of Filipino women, men, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons to violent acts of soldiers participating in military exercises.
But the killing of Jennifer was not simply a crime between two people, where one hated the other. It was an assault on the Filipino people. There is no greater hatred than that which drives the killing of a nation’s sovereignty and an attack on the dignity of a people in their very own land. The VFA-orientation enables a war of aggression where the participants tend to exercise the idea that they can assault, conquer and dominate those they hate. Hating the enemy means brutally slaying them. This is what happened to Jennifer and this will happen again and again to targeted enemies.
We will not also accept that this is an isolated case, enough reason to rule out a thorough review of agreements between the Philippine and US governments, in particular, the VFA and the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (whose constitutionality is currently under question before the Supreme Court of the Philippines). But even then, one killing is too many.
Military exercises neither train men and women to behave in a respectful manner nor teach people to act justly. Military exercises inculcate “hatred” of the enemy and blind adherence to the rules of combat, supposedly for their own survival and protection. This is obviously still at work, for the suspect in Jennifer’s murder has not been handed over to the custody of a Philippine court.
The family of Jennifer and the Filipino people demand that the United States hand over the suspect to the Philippines for custody and that Philippine President Aquino take the lead in bringing this demand to US President Barack Obama and the US government.
This is our personal and collective message: You would not want the hate killing that happened to Jennifer to happen to your kin because you love them. Jennifer’s mother, father, fiancé, sister and other relatives are mourning her death. Jennifer’s killing is another assault on Filipino dignity which has endured decades of US troops’ brutality and violence.
Justice must be done.
—NORMA P. DOLLAGA,
Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan,
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