QUEZON City, Oct. 25, 2014—An ecumenical alliance of Catholic, Aglipayan, and Protestant churches asserts that the Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude slay case is a product of the “war game mentality” brought about by the US’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines.
Calling Pemberton a “GI Joe”, Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) general secretary Nardy Sabino said the soldier was “likely hyped-up on war games” and, freshly released from what might be described as his “military cage of kill training”, expecting entertainment and action.
Trained to dominate
“Joe set out for a good time in a country and context he barely knew. Like many soldiers before him, Joe was likely both inebriated and heightened for domination in his pursuit of a good time,” he explained on Thursday, Oct. 23.
Sabino condemned the US for its “legacy of GI Joes” who, he alleged, “pounce on the poor of foreign lands expecting sexual exploits and domination”, saying the link between conditioning for war and perceived entitlement to opportunities for sex acts in foreign countries has shown itself again and again in Asia.
He laments the stereotype of the Philippines as a “rest and recreation” port and the “economic desperation of poor Filipinos, combined with the culture and conduct of US troops, have influenced the building of extensive entertainment and sex industry near former US bases, which foreigners still frequent today.”
Sabino rejected the idea of “hyped-up” young military men let loose on foreign soil for recreation, arguing this set-up fuels an “insidious” entertainment industry that feeds and preys on the poverty of the people.
“Filipinos deserve to have their dignity respected,” he said.
Sabino believes Laude’s slay was not simply an isolated crime, but one fueled and made tolerable to some through a legacy of US troops seeking good times after their war duties.
Sabino shared the legacy of military domination is a reality of history still manifested in the expression “Hey Joe!” used by Filipinos when greeting male Caucasians.
What he dubbed as the lopsided VFA and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) only perpetuate the abuse of Filipinos as in Laude’s slay.
“What happened inside that hotel room was obviously murder. We will never know the exact circumstances as Jennifer’s life was choked from her. The only person allegedly left to tell us will be mounting his own defense in court. Joe Pemberton made his choice and he must be held accountable for his actions,” he said.
“We stand for the dignity of the Filipino people and call for the immediate termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement!” he added.
According to Sabino, the VFA serve no purpose, but to heighten the mentality of soldiers to “conquer and kill in a foreign land”.
“Under an undeniably unequal treaty, skewed to the favor of the US, VFA exercises and the continuing presence of US troops in the Philippines underscore the perceived military dominance of the United States of America over the Philippines. These exercises drop battalions of battle-seeking and war-heightened US soldiers, many of them young, into a culture and context they do not know with the command to win the war and defeat the enemy,” Sabino said. (Raymond A. Sebastián)