MANILA, Oct. 23, 2014–An influential religious group called on the United States to allow the wheels of justice take its course for the transgender Filipino who was allegedly murdered by a US serviceman.
The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) said that seeking justice for 26-year-old Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude who was killed in a motel in Olongapo City last Oct. 11 faces a huge challenge since the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) puts the victim at a “disadvantage”.
Under the VFA, the Philippine courts have no jurisdiction of US soldiers who violate local laws.
“Even while protecting the rights of a US citizen who is a crime suspect, in this case, US Marine PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US government should refrain from using might to get its own brand of justice, with little regard for Philippine sovereignty,” said the AMRSP’s Office of Women and Gender Concerns in a statement.
With the agreements signed between the two countries, the group said they are concerned about how the case will progress and the kind of justice that might prevail in the end.
“We pray that genuine justice based on the truth will be served–for both the victim and the accused,” said the statement signed by AMRSP chairpersons Benedictine Sr. Mary John Mananzan and Dominican Fr. Quirico Pedregoza.
Pemberton, 19, is currently detained at the Joint US Military Assistance Group at Camp Aguinaldo.
The AMRSP also appealed to the Philippine government to review the “onerous” provisions of the visiting forces agreement.
In 2005, the US took custody of US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who was charged of raping a Filipino woman in Subic, Zambales.
The case was, however, dismissed after the woman reversed her testimony.
“We do not want to see a repeat of a past case that saw a rape suspect spirited away by his US defenders through the use of wife and force, resulting in the victim’s capitulation and an acquittal,” AMRSP said.
They also called on witnesses of Laude’s murder to come forward and help in the investigation of the case. (CBCPNews)