Gabriela calls for Pemberton’s conviction a year after Laude’s death
Days before the first anniversary of the murder of Jennifer Laude, women’s group Gabriela on Friday reiterated its call for justice, saying US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton should be convicted after admitting that he choked the Filipino transgender.
“Pemberton has admitted to strangling Jennifer after he discovered her gender. This is clear proof of his guilt and we are hoping that justice will prevail this time,” Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador said in a statement.
In October last year, Laude was found dead in a bathroom of a motel in Olongapo City. In a hearing on Laude’s murder in August, Scott admitted that he choked Laude, whom he met at a bar, after finding out that she was also a “man.”
In his testimony, Scott said he got angry when he reached down between Laude’s legs during a sex act and discovered his partner had a penis, as he felt he was being raped by another man.
In May, Philippine National Police medico-legal officer and pathologist Dr. Maritess Ombao testified that Laude died due to strangulation and asphyxia by drowning.
Salvador lamented that cases of violence committed by American troops in the past did not progress in courts because of alleged intervention of the United States with settlements.
“Recently, reports of offers for settlement with amounts ranging from P21M to P38M plus US visas were floated but were rejected by the Laude family,” Salvador said.
“The US will do everything, from fair to foul, to protect its interests. What is at stake here is beyond Jennifer Laude and Pemberton but its politico-military policy Pivot to Asia. It is aware of the consequences of Jennifer’s murder on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty,” she added.
Reiterating Gabriela’s call to convict Pemberton of murder and jail him in a Philippine facility, Salvador warned that the US could be arranging a “compromise conviction on homicide rather than murder to appease the family and the protesters but will nevertheless insist on retaining custody of Pemberton based on VFA provisions.”
“The US already won the case even before it began because of the VFA. The compromise will be met because Pemberton’s guilt cannot be denied,” Salvador said.
“Jail Pemberton in Philippine jail, based on our laws. Punishment for violence against women is a noncompromise. Only in this way can we send the message that the Filipino people, especially women, will not allow the US or any other country to trample on our sovereignty,” she added.
Pemberton, who is facing a murder charge over Laude’s death at the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 following a December 2012 complaint, is currently detained at the Joint US Military Assistance Group facility of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. Yuji Vincent Gonzales/RC
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