Malacañang will not stop the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from initiating disbarment proceedings against Harry Roque, the lawyer of the family of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte made the announcement a day after Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon warned the AFP against harassing the bereaved of Laude, after a deportation order was issued against Laude’s German fiance, Marc Susselbeck, and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin threatened to file a disbarment case against Roque for scaling the fence of Camp Aguinaldo where the suspect in Laude’s killing, US Marine Joseph Pemberton, is detained.
Laude, 26, was found dead in a motel in Olongapo City early last month.
Laude’s sister Marilou also had a confrontation with military guards after scaling the fence with Susselbeck.
“We will leave it to the Armed Forces concerning their decision. The incident happened on their ground, and they are the ones in the frontline about the concern on Attorney Roque. We will respect the decision of the Armed Forces if they filed an action against Attorney Roque,” Valte said.
Earlier, Ridon underscored that the military’s reaction to the fence-climbing incident was to go on a “harassment rampage” in behalf of the American government.
“The military has been making so much fuss over the Camp Aguinaldo incident as though this would even for one bit turn sympathy against Jennifer Laude and in favor of the Americans and the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement),” Ridon said.
“What is clear is that the reason why Susselbeck jumped the gate is simply because the Armed Forces has been unwilling to cooperate with the Laude family in their request to see whether Pemberton was in fact in custody. Had they simply allowed the Laude family to enter Camp Aguinaldo, there would have been no incident to speak of,” he added.
Under the VFA, an erring US serviceman will be under the custody of American authorities until all court proceedings are finished. This provision has nurtured lingering hostile sentiments against the VFA.
Pemberton is detained at the Armed Forces headquarters, but his detention facility is guarded by American servicemen.