Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton did not know that Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude was a transgender when they met for the first time on October 11, 2014 at a disco bar in Olongapo City, Zambales, a witness told the Senate on Wednesday.
According to Mark Clarence Gelviro alias “Barbie,” he and Laude were having iced tea inside the Ambyanz Disco bar when they saw the group of Pemberton enter the establishment.
Barbie said Pemberton was friendly but he appeared tipsy.
“Ang alam po ni Pemberton ay kami po ay mga totoong babae [Pemberton thought that we were real women],” Gelviro added.
She was replying to a query by Dindi Tan, a member of the Association
of Transgenders of the Philippines (ATP) and one of the resource persons allowed by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that is conducting an inquiry into the death of Laude. The panel is headed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Barbie said around 10 p.m., Laude and Pemberton agreed to leave the bar and go to Celzone Lodge. He accompanied them.
When they arrived at the lodge, he joined the two inside Room 1 for a few minutes. When he left the room, he said he met an acquaintance and he agreed to go with him to another room.
After 30 minutes, Barbie said the cashier of the lodge informed him that Laude was found unconscious.
The cashier, Elias Galamos, also attended the Senate inquiry. He said he saw Pemberton walk out of the room and leave the lodge less than an hour after they checked in.
He said Pemberton left the door open, prompting him to check if there was somebody inside. He closed the door when he noticed that the room was still occupied.
But when he returned after 30 minutes to check on the remaining guest, nobody answered him.
It was then that he decided to open the room, discovering the motionless body of Laude slumped at the toilet bowl.
Also during the hearing, Michelle Laude, Jennifer’s older sister, dismissed insinuations that the victim was a sex worker.
According to her, Jeffrey had not gone out at night for a year since he had become a homebody.
Jeffrey also does not drink alcoholic beverages and that his only source of income was the allowance being sent by his German fiancé.
Michelle admitted she was at the same disco bar where Jeffrey met Pemberton but she was with her friends.