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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
Local reaction to Trans woman's murder in the Philippines
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Local reaction to Trans woman's murder in the Philippines

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

A pact that allows American troops to join large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines is 'imperfect,' but Manila is unlikely to amend it, the country's top diplomat said Thursday.

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which was signed by the treaty allies in 1998, has come under renewed criticism by left-wing groups and nationalists after it allowed American officials to retain custody of a U.S. Marine accused of killing a Transgender Filipino earlier this month.

The U.S. military agreed to transfer Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton from an American warship to the Philippine military's main camp in metropolitan Manila, but he remains guarded by fellow Marines in a compound with an outer security ring of Filipino troops.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said amending the agreement could disrupt joint military exercises.

The Philippines turned to the U.S. for help in modernizing its underfunded military amid a territorial row with China.

'It's an imperfect agreement but given that, as I said, it's not plausible for us to amend at this time,' del Rosario told the ABS-CBN TV network, adding that the accord needed to be abrogated by both countries to pave the way for any proposed changes.

The agreement has no clear provision outlining how it can be amended, according to Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose.

'If we abrogate,' del Rosario said, 'it interrupts the ... joint exercise between our two armed forces. It consequences the modernization, the joint training, the inter-operability.'

Critics have cited the custody provision of the accord - which says American military suspects shall remain in U.S. custody until legal proceedings are completed - as proof that the agreement is lopsided and undermines the sovereignty of the Philippines, which was an American colony until 1946.

Philippine police said Pemberton met Jennifer Laude, 26, at a disco bar in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila, on October 11, then went to a motel room where Laude's body was later found. Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, had apparently been drowned in the toilet bowl.

Philippine and U.S. authorities engaged in a high-profile custody battle over another U.S. Marine, Daniel Smith, who was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on charges of raping a Filipino woman in 2005. A Philippine appeals court overturned his conviction in 2009, allowing him to leave the country amid anti-U.S. protests.

LOCAL VIGIL PLANNED TO HONOR VICTIM
Justice for Jennifer Laude Vigil
November 2, 5 p.m.
Jefferson Park, 3801 Beacon Ave. S.
Program and reception afterwards at Inay's Asian Pacific Cuisine, 2503 Beacon Ave. S.

The following is a Facebook announcement made by Bayan Queer Collective:

In light of the tragic murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipino Trans Woman, at the hands of a U.S. Marine and the urgent demand for justice, the Pacific Northwest BAYAN QUEER COLLECTIVE will be holding a vigil to honor her life as well as the lives of Trans people who have fallen victim to a culture of violence against the Trans community.

We will meet at the shelter near Spokane Street in Jefferson Park at 5 p.m.
(In case of heavy rain, please meet at Inay's instead.)

The walking procession will begin at 5:30 p.m. going down Beacon Ave., turning left on Lander Street and walking through the neighborhoods until we reach Inay's Kitchen.

There will be an access shuttle for those who need it.

We will have speakers and performances at Inay's, the program starting at 6 p.m. There will be a letter station for you to write letters of support to Jennifer's family.

Please contact us if you have questions: oralexpression@gmail.com

#REMEMBERJENNIFERLAUDE

Justice for Jennifer Laude!
Trans Lives Matter!

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