Just Jennifer

5

It’s been painful, hearing about, and watching the story of, Jennifer Laude’s murder unfold. It is sad enough that there is a murder of any person in the hands of Americans brought onto these shores on “legal business.” But to hear the Philippine President speak of it like it’s a run-of-the-mill death, like it happened in a vacuum, like there is no American Marine as who is the prime suspect, is the height of insensitivity.

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Of course it’s also because media is so uncritical in the questions it asks of the President, that he is actually allowed the time and mileage to display his lack of compassion for Jennifer.

One wonders if that’s a good thing.

Faulty questions and answers
Because when you ask the President: do you think it’s time to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)? You know his answer will be a resounding no.

Yet media expectedly asks it of him anyway, the better to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Or get some more that’s worthy of a sound bite – this President (with his spokespersons!) is a gift that keeps on giving in that area. And so it was with an utter lack of emotion that the President asserted: “Bakit natin kailangan i-abrogate ang VFA? Name me any place that doesn’t have crime.” And even more emotion-less when he followed up with: “Should the sin of one person be reflective of the entire country?”

Which is true and which is fine, but which does not give this President and his Yellow Army the excuse to remove this murder from its context. A context that brought one US Marine Joseph Pemberton onto these shores on “official business” like military exercises under the VFA.

That the VFA cradles the murder of every Jennifer in this country cannot and should not be denied. Because this agreement did not just allow Pemberton to set foot in this country which led to his meeting Jennifer; this agreement is also dictating the way Pemberton as murder suspect is being treated, living on a US ship over which Philippine courts have no control, removed from the circus that now surrounds Jennifer’s death.

How can one even imagine that Pemberton is but a run-of-the-mill murder suspect? In the context of the VFA – and this country! – he’s everything and an American marine who is beyond our reach and grasp, who is beyond our jurisdiction and the laws of our land. In fact, even beyond international tribunal laws, as it has been imagined by the American creators of the VFA (and EDCA).

That was always enough reason to want the VFA junked before it was even signed, enough reason to get angry at the EDCA signing before Obama’s visit this year. Now with Jennifer’s death, we are reminded of how angry we still are.

The battle to be won
Which is to say I understand the call to abrogate the VFA. I am all for it.

I’m also all for admitting that it ain’t gonna happen, and focus instead on winning the battle that’s right in front of me.

And this battle can be won, if we focus on the parts of the VFA and the EDCA that we now want to put back on the negotiating table – that we now want to insist be put back on that table – because we have proven, between Nicole and Daniel Smith, and now Jennifer and Pemberton, that there is something fundamentally wrong with these parts.

Because the call can be to revise this agreement, and revise it quickly! in so far as jurisdiction and custody over suspects are concerned. We can demand that we get the same deals that South Korea and Japan got out of the US when it comes to the criminal jurisdiction over American soldiers who commit crimes in the countries they are “visiting.”

To call for abrogating the VFA at this point, in the face of Jennifer’s death, is like wasting our energies on a battle we cannot and will not win. Because this President is not going to fold, he’s too macho for it, too much of a politician. This government – as with all governments before it – is also classic little brown brother material. At the beck and call of America.

Missing the point
Because insisting at this point that the VFA be abrogated just gives the government, the President, his tried and tested Yellowed allies, the space to speak of the death of Jennifer in the most superficial of terms.

One spin has been to insist that this is just a hate crime, and that we must stand against all hate crimes, not just Jennifer’s. Another transgender was killed inside a flower shop elsewhere in the country. Another one as she was walking down the street. There is gender-related violence everywhere, let us stand against all these.

And yes we must certainly stand against all hate crimes, and against every bit of discrimination – not just gender-based ones. But no hate crime happens in a vacuum. It is contextualized in nation, in the dominant ideologies that allow for such hatred to turn into criminal act.

In the case of Jennifer, this context can only be the VFA, because we cannot simply speak of her death without pointing out that the prime suspect in her killing is a US Marine. To speak of Jennifer’s death without mentioning the VFA, this US Marine, and the conditions that brought them together is not just unfair, it is also unjust.

The President himself speaks with an almost coldness. “Ang importante dito mayroong krimen na nangyari, kunin lahat ‘nung ebidensiyang magpapatunay na ang salarin ang may kasalanan dito, at magkaroon tayo ng katarungan.”

But there can be no real justice for Jennifer under the VFA’s current terms. And the longer we all take missing the point, the bigger the chances that US Marine Pemberton will go back to the land of milk and honey, scot-free.

The little brown brothers and sisters, after all, can rot in this hell for all the US cares.

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5 Comments

  1. A very different view is presented as lead article at joeam dot com.

    Pemberton, if evidence points to him, should be tried for the crime against Laude. He ought not be tried for the VFA, for Nicole, for American History in the Philippines, or for emotions in lieu of facts.

  2. As an American, I prefer to have the US pull completely out of the Philippines and let the Chinese take any lands that you once claimed as your own. As Americans we get almost nothing out of this arrange except for more US taxpayers dollars poured down the drain defending an ungrateful people.

  3. I know what happened, I seen this scenario so many times. the US Marine looking for a one night stand he pick-up this transgender not knowing he’s not she, but he, he was horrified when he discovered that she is he sucking his dick, so because he is drunk, in an instant he make a move that he will regret for the rest of his life, he choke the transgender, and killed him. You know what happened next, all the lawyer jump immediately to the scene they see a large amount of money involve, they paid the people to rally against United States, but if you give them a passage here in the States, They will jump in a heartbeat. What they don’t realize is that the Chinese love it, Because if United State leave they could Harass Philippines and this Country, You now Philippines has no ball to fight the Chinese, But they are good in claiming the Credit of winning that other do. How in the hell you would sacrifice more than 100 million people to one transgender. How many have been killed every day in the Philippines by Chinese, Korean and other nationality and the law just keep quite and close their eyes and no one sue this people.How many Chinese violated Philippine Law , pouching, selling drugs, white slavery and so on, that no one in the Philippine government make it a national issue.Philippines Under the Spaniard rule for almost four hundred years and just only few learn Spanish, while United States in less than 30 years every one learn English. In my point of view if United States did not came to the Country, I believe someone else.This is not about killing, or about the US Marine its about how much money they could squeeze with the US Government. You see if you sue the person, how much money do you think you could get, But if you sue the Command, that’s a tone of money.The present of United State are the big reason why the Chinese could not move, I will give you a sample, in Vietnamese case, one island Vietnamese and Chinese Claim, when the tention became worse the…

  4. Many years ago when Subic was still an American naval base I was handling a simple case for collection in Olongapo and at that time the court was a night court so it required me to stay the night there every time. Inevitably I was treated to a night out by my client in one of the girlie bars there. I will not forget that despite the many girls available no one wanted to “table” with us and when asked why the waiter explained “Hindi kasi kayo American”. Even the rowdy drunk Americans had girls fighting over them. Let’s admit it Olongapo and particularly Subic are places for making a quick buck for women then and now still albeit in a lesser degree. What happened to Jennifer is a sad consequence of sex for sale that went wrong. I cannot imagine what reason there could be other than a sexual tryst when Jennifer and Pemberton entered a room in a lodge. VFA or no VFA an american sailor was on furlough after a long and boring trip with no females on board a ship what do you think he would want first and how would he react after he finds out that the girl he gets was actually another man. I am not suggesting that pemberton go scot free because of this but let’s cool it and accept that Jennifer somehow had it coming.

  5. Try this for context. When a husband catches his wife in bed with another man and husband kills the lover, he will get off lightly with what is called destierro,or exile from his place of residence. The law recognizes the natural uncontrollable rage that takes over a man upon making seeing his wife in that situation. Imagine a wife waiting in bed at night for her husband. She hears him arrive, enter the dark room and proceeds to romance her. She responds, but in the middle of their passionate clinch she is horrified to discover that it is the driver and not the husband. Multiply her rage by a hundred and that is what a man goes through when he realizes he has been tricked into a sexual encounter with another man posing as a woman. Ultra liberal homosexual and human rights activists don’t or wont see the psychological trauma such an encounter has on a normal man who is the actually the victim. A transvestite’s dna is immutably a man’s, therefore he will behave like a man even if dressed as a woman, meaning he will be a tomcat on the prowl and thats a scientific fact. That the victim still went with that unsuspecting marine even if he already had a boyfriend to whom he was betrothed validates this. A pedophile that offers his services to a kindergarten school to hide his dark intentions is a monster. A transvestite who hides his secret to trick another man to go to bed with him is what? Thats why all trannies must wear a mark on his forehead similar that of a married Indian woman to warn off other men, otherwise he is inviting danger to himself. Those who insist on prowling without a mark is just as guilty as a pedophile and that driver and deserve to be lynched. No, this has nothing to do with the VFA at all.