In their statement released yesterday, September 2, Philippine LGBT organization BAHAGHARI expressed strong condemnation on the Olongapo court’s decision to release the murderer US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.
“Pemberton violently murdered our sister, trans woman Jennifer Laude 6 years ago. Even with the admission of his brutal, hateful killing, the courts upheld that Pemberton’s conviction was to be commuted from murder to homicide, for which he was sentenced to 6-12 years of imprisonment. That alone was a massive slap to Jennifer’s family, and the movement for justice for our slain sister”, BAHAGHARI said.
The feeble conviction set a terrible precedent for the LGBTQ+ community and the Filipino people: under the VFA, if a US soldier brutally murders a transgender woman in Philippine soil, they would ultimately roam free after as little as 6 years of incarceration.
In Pemberton’s case, it was “incarceration” in an exclusive JUSMAG compound inside Camp Aguinaldo where only American personnel and Philippine officials with clearance may enter. It is no stretch to assert that Pemberton has, in fact, been serving “jail time” comfortably, at ease, and with impunity.
Pemberton’s release is two-pronged. Firstly, it represents the unfettered violence and injustice the LGBTQ+ community continues to face. Moreover, it symbolizes the Philippine government’s continued submission to US imperialism. Justice for Jennifer cannot exist without both being decisively ended.
Duterte suspended the VFA’s termination in exchange for military aid from the US, and for its support of the Anti-Terrorism Law. The VFA and ATL are, in fact, quid pro quo for continuing US military aid for Duterte.
“Hence, we assert that the Visiting Forces Agreement, which has enabled and exacerbated injustice for Jennifer Laude to the greatest extent and which continue to serve as Duterte’s offerings in his ploy for continued US subservience, must be finally abolished to bring justice for our slain sister”, BAHAGHARI ended.
JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE!
JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HATE CRIMES AND GENDER-BASED KILLINGS!
JUSTICE FOR ALL THE VICTIMS OF US IMPERIALISM!
Watch the live coverage of their mobilization today in front of the Philippine Department of Justice: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=3202908916425100&ref=watch_permalink