“The killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude by a US serviceman is the most recent vivid violation of people’s rights, a consequence of lopsided military agreements between the US and the Philippine governments. The US-RP Military Bases Agreement to the Visiting Forces Agreement and the US-GPH Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement have become licenses for numerous gross transgressions, especially on the rights of Filipino women and children,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
An online US-based news site, www.marinecorpstimes.com cited an internal US Navy memorandum identified the perpetrator as a US Marine deployed to the Philippines as part of the Balikatan joint military training exercise. The suspect, whose identity is kept from the public, and three other Marines are in the custody of US Navy officials since Sunday.
The Balikatan joint military exercise is a component of the Visiting Forces Agreement which in effect ensures the permanent, albeit rotational, presence of the US troops in the country. “The newly signed EDCA ensures the increased and permanent presence of US military troops, anywhere and everywhere in the Philippines, at the expense of the Filipino people, both monetarily and in relation to our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.
Palabay warned that the “issue of jurisdiction and custody over the case may go the way of all previous cases where criminal accountability of US soldiers in Philippine territory were exonerated under the pretext of the MBA and the VFA.”
She stated that in 1987, a US serviceman stationed in the US base on Olongapo and accused in the rape of 12-year old Rosario Baluyot was “whisked out of the country to avoid prosecution.” The child later died from sepsis because parts of a vibrator that was inserted in her vagina remained stuck for seven months.
The rape of “Nicole” by US Marine Daniel Smith in 2005 was the first case where a member of the US military was tried, convicted and sentenced for a crime on Philippine territory. However, the local court ruling on the landmark case was overturned when Smith was secretly transferred from the Makati City Jail to the US Embassy’s custody in 2006.
“In both cases, the issue of US government custody on the perpetrators from the US military was invoked,” Palabay added.
“We call on the Filipino people to assert the country’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the case, including custody and investigation of the perpetrator, and his prosecution. We demand justice and accountability. We call for the immediate junking of the VFA and the EDCA, which are threats to the Filipino people’s liberty and security,” she concluded. ###
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.