Soldier who stood fast vs Laudes to be cited
MANILA, Philippines—The soldier who was assaulted by the relatives and friends of the murdered transgender Jennifer Laude while guarding the facility holding the American suspect will be given an award of recognition by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.
TSgt. Mariano Pamittan will be cited for the professionalism and restraint he exhibited during the Oct. 22 incident at the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board facility at Camp Aguinaldo where US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is detained.
Pamittan was assaulted and shoved by Marc Sueselbeck, Laude’s German fiancé, and Marilou Laude, the victim’s sister, who scaled the facility’s perimeter fence wanting to get to the detained American.
Catapang said he was impressed by Pamittan’s good behavior and composure during the tense face-off and immediately ordered Brig. Gen. Arthur Ang, the camp commander, to prepare a citation to be given to Pamittan during the flag-raising ceremony on Monday.
Pamittan said he understood and sympathized with the Laude family who forced their way into the compound that he was guarding.
“However, I have a duty (that) I must fulfill, which is to secure Pemberton who also has his own rights. That is why despite their misbehavior, I exerted tolerance,” he said.
Pamittan, 44, belongs to a family of soldiers, with more than 20 of his relatives having joined the military.
Originally from Enrile, Cagayan, he entered the military in 1991, after studying for two years to be an automotive mechanic. He joined the First Scout Ranger Regiment in 1992 and served in the 5th and 9th companies until 2006.
He saw action in various conflict areas all over the country, including Northern Luzon, the Visayas, Sulu and Central Mindanao.
Pamittan was the 90-RR gunner during deposed President Joseph Estrada’s all-out war against the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2000. He was also involved in major fighting in Jones, Isabela, against the communist New People’s Army in 1993.
“I’m lucky because even after my years in the service and these encounters, I did not sustain even a minor injury,” said Pamittan.
“I was also able to reflect that, as Filipinos, we shouldn’t be fighting each other. We should just talk about our problems,” he added.
Harry Roque, the Laude family’s lawyer, said giving the military guard some recognition was good.
“I am glad that he will be given an award,” he said.
However, Gabriela party-list representative Luzviminda Ilagan said the commendation was “the height of sycophancy.”
“The commendation is adding insult to injury… to us whose sovereignty has been trampled on,” Ilagan said in a text message.
Karapatan secretary general Tinay Palabay said the AFP action was demeaning to the country’s dignity as the military was acting like mercenaries of the US and Philippine governments and apologists of the VFA.
In Olongapo City, the lawyers of Sueselbeck said the German would be leaving the country today, free from any legal obstacles.
Sueselbeck has apologized to a government official for breaching the security at Camp Aquinaldo, said Roque.
Television footage and newspaper photos showed Sueselbeck and Marilou, climbing over a fence near a joint US-Philippine facility.
The footage also showed Sueselbeck pushing a military guard, who was blocking his way to the detention facility.
The government official went to Jennifer’s wake on the eve of her Friday burial, Roque said.
“That issue is over. The government official went on the last day of the wake and he (Sueselbeck) has apologized. Issue is closed,” he said. With reports from Tarra Quismundo, Metro Manila, and Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon
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