• What Pemberton’s conviction means

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    ONE had the sense that Joseph Scott Pemberton would get away with murder.

    After all, American-Philippine relations are filled with narratives such as this one, and this would not be the first time that an American soldier, here for the US bases or any other version of it since 1994, and “on a break” from “official business” via some “rest and relaxation” gets into trouble for abusing our women.

    But of course the relationship between Pemberton and Jennifer is so much more complex than that.

    Being macho
    It was painful to hear how the Pemberton defense painted this to have been a matter of deception, where the man is made into someone who did not know enough to, and could not, tell the difference between a woman and a transsexual like Jennifer.

    They must have known that in pseudo-conservative Philippines, painting a picture of the deceived male almost always justifies any kind of violence against the woman, or tranny for that matter. They must have known that in macho Philippines, the men would understand: yeah, they would’ve killed Jennifer, too. They would’ve been so offended that they had been duped by a tranny into believing she was a woman, enough to leave her lifeless body in the bathroom, her head in the toilet.

    And yet one also wonders what kind of man this is who was being allowed by the US Navy to get some “liberty time” – yes that’s what they call rest and relaxation these days – away from their ship, when he could not/would not be able to tell difference between man, woman, tranny. What kind of US Marine is this who did not know enough about the cultural landscape he was being set free upon?

    What this tells us is that the Philippines, via these Balikatan exercises, is the playground of these young US military recruits, who are not mature enough, not old enough, to be able to shrug off a mistake such as walking into a motel room with a tranny – if it was truly a case of mistaken identity as Pemberton has successfully convinced this court.

    As he has successfully convinced too many of our macho men in good ol’ Philippines.

    Being tranny
    It’s a sad sad time for being tranny, but also for being woman.

    Because what this decision tells me is that all of us who have relations with men, all of us who are left in one room with one man, will have to prove that our behavior within those walls did not warrant an armhold like what Pemberton gave Jennifer. That is of course if we survive the violence at all.

    Because what this decision tells me is that when push comes to shove, a court will decide in favor of the man, who can get away with murder by pleading ignorance: I did not know what I was getting into when I did it.

    Because that’s like saying that it was the tranny’s fault, for failing to point out from the get-go that she is tranny, and not woman.

    Because that’s also like saying a woman must be forthright about what she is, who she is, what she’s hiding beneath her clothes, otherwise it will be justifiable if the man shoves her to the floor because he has decided that something’s wrong with her.

    Because in my head at least, that is no different from a woman who decides that she does not want to have sex with the man she is with, but is told that it was too late for her to say no since she was already inside the room with him. Because in my head, we should all be able to say no and walk away alive, from whatever sexual relations we might have with a man.

    Because that is to say that we all must have a label tacked on our foreheads before we have relations with men: tranny, gay, woman. And don’t forget the adjectives: with penis, without penis, top, bottom, loose, easy, open to violence.

    Being Pinas
    For the court to decide that it was justifiable for Pemberton to have choked Jennifer until she fell unconscious, is to tell every man – foreigner and Pinoy – that they can tell a court: I was deceived by this woman that’s why I killed her.

    I was deceived by this woman, so I shoved her. She slapped me, so I choked her. She fell unconscious and there was no water in the bathroom so I put her head in the toilet bowl to revive her. When she wouldn’t wake up, I left her there. I was afraid her friends would come and beat me up.

    And our courts believed that, enough to convict Pemberton only of homicide and not murder. Enough to keep him in jail only for 6 to 12 years, counting the years he has already spent in detention during the trial. Enough to give the family that measly amount, an amount it deemed is the value of the life of one Jennifer Laude who was caring for her family.

    Enough to allow the Americans to take control of Pemberton’s fate, ignoring the court’s decision that the US Marine be put in the Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, like we have no say at all about how this soldier who committed a crime on our land has to suffer the consequences of his actions.

    And here we are divided about how Pemberton should be treated, post-conviction. And we are not so much divided because we are undecided about Pemberton’s guilt or innocence – we all generally agree to his guilt. What we are divided about, sadly, is whether or not Jennifer deserved what she got, is whether or not Jennifer deserved to be choked and then drowned in a toilet bowl.

    That this is even the discussion we are having at this point is a measure of how for all our notions of empowerment and equality, the macho continues to reign in this country.

    The stench of homophobia and sexism is one we cannot mask.

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    7 Comments

    1. victor m. hernandez on

      Many times I have heard the story that in Muslim Mindanao when you accidentally run over a chicken, you will have to pay for it, not only for the run over chicken but also the eggs that it will lay, and the chicks that will hatch from the eggs, and the eggs that will be laid by the offspring chicks and so on nd so forth. In the final analysis your fault really is that you went to Muslim Mindnao in the first place, otherwise there will be no run over chicks at all. you gotta pay the price. No bargaining. That;s it. Either you pay up or you might get killed yourself.
      Let’s just go to or pole vault to a conclusion. It is a matter of foreign polcy as far as Pemberton – Laude affair. The VFA & EDCA, that is. Choose alliances, US or China, or ISIS (improbable). Independent foreign policy, very difficult, almost impossible. USA is alredy here. China, well, the Chinese have been here with us too, freindly and helpful, helping our economy, jus like a few Americans (not all of them). I still remember that American companies were the first ones to get out of the Philipines when the times were tough, and rough during the Marcos years. The Japanese were the last ones to go, except for one, the Mitsubishi cars never left.Well the Chinese never left, they were here even before the Americans were here, even before the Spaniards were here, even before the Muslims were here. But China was sleeping as a mghty dragon in economy and military, but Chinese were always here. Helping our economy, providing jobs, developing industries, building schools, giving back to the communities. So can we have independent foreign policy? Of course, look at India. Even in the cold war they were friends with US and USSR, and played their diplomatic card well and got the better for it. Independent foreign policy is a smart game to play. And you can play smart on Pemberton affair. And get the better for it.

    2. I don’t blame Katrina for thinking like a woman because she is a woman. Drunk Pemberton was deceptively raped by Gay Laude. A man who respects and honor his manhood will surely punch, kick and beat Laude. Rape is heinous crime and Laude was deceptive rapist. If Laude died for raping a man then he deserves it. Sarah Balabagan killed a man who did not even rape her but was just always trying to have sex with her. Sarah was saved by the government from sentence of death even she was a killer. Sarah was hailed for defending her honor. Pemberton also took back his honor after being raped by a gay by deception. Pemberton acted as what an honorable man should be. It was honor self defense that’s why Laude died. In PH law rapist are jailed for life in the absence of death penalty. In other nations rapist are sentenced to death. Gay Laude was deceptive rapist that deserves to die.

    3. To prevent another tranny from being killed, shouldn’t trannies be required to wear a mark on their foreheads like a yellow spot between the eyes- red is what married women in India wear- to distinguish them from real women? Isn’t this better than to wait for a vigilante group to form to launch an extermination campaign against these freaks?

    4. Danilo delos reyes on

      I’m not a fan of Pemberton nor an apologist for american servicemen but I don’t agree entirely with your observation about this case. It was heard and tried by A COURT with a lady judge presiding. Based on the EVIDENCE presented by the prosecution and the depense, the LADY judge handed out a guilty verdict although on a lesser offense. Just like you, I’m disappointed about the decision but I’m sure minus the corruption, the judge based her decision on the merits of the case and on the evidence presented. The WOMAN judge was swayed by the arguments of TEAM PEMBERTON that you yourself made mentioned in your column. Hard as it is, we have to accept the fact that a decision had been reached have to move on. Tranny, lesbie, becky or straight, everyone is responsible for his or her own action. We can agree or disagree about many things but equating this case to “machoism”, homophobia or sexism is way too much of a read in this Laude-Pemberton story.

    5. That’s the fault of jennifer who the hell is his real name he should be honest enough to tell he is Fake!

      • The said tranny deserved to be treated that way because the shemale deceived his/her inebriated American client who at that time can’t distinguished what a real or fake woman is for he was drunk. You can’t blame him for what he did. All he saw that night he was with a beautiful woman. Jennifer or Jeffrey whatever, was to be betrothed to his/her German boyfriend and yet he came out that night dressed as woman to make extra cash. He/her greediness killed her instead. The horrible crime is a lesson for all shemales or transgenders. You can only fool once but not twice, they say.

      • No she didn’t deserve to be murdered but your correct that she/ it should have come clean before accepting payment for sex. This is not a boy meets girl love story but a guy paying for sex and then finding out the woman is in fact a man! On discovery he was probably threatened with extreme violence if he didn’t pay the agreed fee.
        n.b. Isn’t Tranny a derogatory term?