OLONGAPO City, Zambales, Oct. 24, 2014 —An ecumenical alliance composed of concerned Catholic, Aglipayan, and Protestant Filipinos organized on Monday, Oct. 20, a “justice vigil” for Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, the transgender who was allegedly killed by a member of the United States marines stationed in Subic.
“We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with the family of Jennifer Laude,” shared Nardy Sabino, general secretary of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR).
“We denounce the discrimination and violent acts committed against the Filipino people. Protected by a one-sided treaty, foreign troops come to our country and brazenly assault our people,” he said.
Sabino slammed President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) for allegedly not doing what a leader should do in this case.
He stressed that while the Aquino administration is quick to harass and imprison people working for justice, they seem uninterested in running after Laude’s suspected murderer.
“Impunity is much too common in the Philippines. Since Jovito Palparan is receiving special treatment under Aquino’s watch, we are not surprised that Aquino will kowtow to US interests and give special treatment to Pvt. Joseph Scott Pemberton as well,” Sabino added.
Calling on PNoy to show Filipinos that crimes against the nation will not be tolerated, he asked, “Is it because of the Philippines’ subservience to the US?”
Meanwhile, United Methodist minister Sol Villalon lamented crimes and human rights violations against Filipinos come too often with joint military exercises, appealing for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which she believes “breeds unspeakable violence”.
She described PNoy as slow in “almost everything except for creating and accessing Pork Barrel and lump-sum budgets”.
“We haven’t heard anything from Aquino. He should at least publicly express solidarity with the family. The whole world is watching. Our government should be ashamed,” she said.
Villalon stressed the death of Laude invites Filipinos to deepen their commitment to national sovereignty.
Sabino encourages the faithful to remain on the side of justice, reminding them not use Laude’s sexual orientation against him.
“This is not the issue. Our moral responsibility is to stand by the victim and her family and amplify their cry for justice, as we call for the abrogation of VFA,” he explained. (Raymond A. Sebastián)