Workers group demands abrogation of VFA:‘Our people are paying the price of our elitist government’s mendicant foreign policy’
THE Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Jennifer Laude, and joins the Filipino people in demanding justice for her murder.
The brutal killing of Ms Laude, a 26-year old woman whose head was found shoved right into a toilet bowl, is tragic in itself.
An apparent hate crime, her murder is not just an affront to the LGBT community who have long been exposed and subjected to sexist and patriarchal violence. It is an affront to us all, LGBT or not.
Making Ms Laude’s death even more tragic, however, is that her alleged murderer, a certain Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marines, is beyond the reach of our own justice system.
Thanks to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) entered into by our government with the United States, Mr Pemberton could not be treated like any ordinary murder suspect: Under the relevant provision in the VFA, US military personnel accused of committing crimes in Philippine territory shall be held by US—not Filipino—authorities.
Our own government may request the United States to waive the application of this provision but final decision resides with the United States.
In effect, power over those who kill our people rests not with our own government but with the United States.
This is the price our elitist government has decided to pay in exchange for the supposed security that comes with hosting US troops in the country, for the equipment that the US provides as military aid, and for all the supposed benefits that we derive from our relationship with the US: benefits that our government should never have had to acquire from any external power in the first place.
The elites who run our government could have rejected the VFA but they couldn’t or they chose not to because, failing to guarantee real security to our own people, they could only run to and grovel before the United States for protection.
So now our people—people like Jennifer and, before her, Nicole—are paying the price for our own elites’ dependency on the United States. They are paying the price for our servile and obsequious foreign policy.
To ensure justice for Ms Laude—and to prevent this tragedy from being repeated—we therefore could not just call for a thorough investigation and an impartial trial, as if this were just any other murder case, as if this were just another hate crime.
We must also demand that Pfc Pemberton not be given any special treatment and that he not be exempted from the normal processes accorded to murder suspects.
We must also call for the immediate abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the immediate cancellation of all US military deployments to the country.
Only then can we ensure justice for Ms Laude and only then can we prevent this tragedy from being repeated.#
October 15, 2014
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
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