“The Aquino government does not recognize the rights of the LGBT, let alone respect them.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community joined this year’s International Human Rights Day protest on Dec. 10, with an axe to grind with President Aquino: the injustice against Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude, whose killer started serving his jail sentence inside a special facility designated under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“On Dec. 1, the Aquino administration turned its back on the LGBT, and sold us on folded knees to the US,” said Aaron Bonnette, spokesperson of the LGBT group Bahaghari, at the program in Plaza Miranda.
On Dec. 1, Olongapo regional trial court Judge Roline-Ginez Jubalde convicted US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton of homicide, over the brutal slay of Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude. Although the judge first committed Pemberton to the National Bilibid Prison (NBP), she retracted and ordered him temporarily detained at the facility of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (Jusmag) in Camp Aguinaldo, in response to a motion for clarification by Pemberton’s lawyers.
On Dec. 9, the judge issued a new order committing Pemberton to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center where he will serve his sentence of six to 12 years imprisonment. However, Pemberton remains at the Jusmag facility, pending the renovation of the AFP Custodial Center.
Bonnette lambasted the court’s finding of two mitigating circumstances in favor of Pemberton: that Laude did not divulge to him that she was a transgender, and that he was drunk and had impaired judgement. Bonnette said the court ruling showed how the LGBT continues to be at risk “of getting killed and having their rights violated” because of such defense for hate crimes.
Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus said in an earlier statement that the court ruling made the Philippines a more dangerous place for LGBTs. She said the court gave a wrong message when it favored Pemberton’s defense of “temporary insanity and honor killing.”
Bonnette said that aside from the discrimination based on gender, the LGBT are also exploted and marginalized as workers, peasants, urban poor.
‘Daniel Smith part 2’
Liza Maza of the Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1nas) and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) condemned the Vistiing Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) as “lopsided agreements which is the reason why justice cannot be attained.”
“Filipinos are getting raped and killed by US troops, just as our sovereignty is getting raped and killed, because of the connivance between US and Philippine officials,” Maza said.
Pemberton had just become “Daniel Smith part 2,” Maza said, referring to US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith who was convicted of rape and was committed to the Makati city jail. His imprisonment was abruptly ended after a month when the Court of Appeals nullified the Makati regional trial court decision, following the retraction of the testimony of the victim, Suzette Nicolas.
“Pemberton is being watched by 15 guards, inside an airconditioned room, instead of the NBP,” Maza said.
President Aquino had denied that Pemberton was being given special treatment.