[Press Release] Women and LGBT groups pressed for PH custody over Pemberton

Women and LGBT groups pressed for PH custody over Pemberton

Women’s groups issued a joint statement in December 17, 2014 Wednesday, pressing for Philippine custody over Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, in the face of the US government’s demand to retain custody of the accused. The arrest warrant was issued by an Olongapo City court on Tuesday in connection with the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude. Subsequently, the Department of Foreign Affairs sent the warrant and demand for custody to the US Embassy on the same day.

However, the US, earlier in the day, issued a statement about its “right to retain custody.”

Photo from QC Pride Council

Photo from QC Pride Council

“The issuance of the warrant of arrest is a welcome development,” according to Jelen Paclarin, coordinator of Philwomen on the ASEAN. “However, our government must be firm with its position that the custody must remain with us. Our government must not forget that Jennifer Laude was murdered and her family wants justice,” Paclarin added.

“Murder is an extraordinary case where jurisdiction and custody lie in the Philippines. Even if request is made by the US — since this is murder — request should be denied,” according to lawyer of Laude’s family, Virginia Suarez. “We challenge the Philippine government to assert full jurisdiction over the accused murderer,” added Proleta Nunez of Scrap VFA Coalition. This is the time when the government should stand for the Filipino women and the Filipino people, according to the advocates.

The women are also anxious about the US demand, remembering what happened to the case of US soldier Daniel Smith, accused of raping “Nicole” in 2005. After conviction by a Makati Trial Court and despite rejection of US request by the same court and by the Court of Appeals, law enforcement agencies transferred Smith from the Makati City Jail to the US Embassy, shortly before midnight of Dec. 29, 2006.

“The US government and our government then have been shameless in trampling on our judicial process, our national laws and integrity,” stated Jean Enriquez of the World March of Women – Pilipinas. “The Visiting Forces Agreement never guaranteed protection of our people, much less our women, from transgressions by US military forces,” added Enriquez.

Ging Cristobal of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), calls on all Filipinos “to continue monitoring and to remain vigilant, and hold the Philippine and US governments accountable in ensuring that justice will not be denied to Jennifer.”

Dindi Tan, Board member of the Association of Transgenders in the Philippines (ATP), believe that the Jennifer Laude case dramatically changed the complexion of the national lobby for the enactment of the anti-discrimination bill pending in Congress. “We hope that the case will underscore among legislators the need to immediately decide for the bill,” Tan stated.

Press Release
December 17, 2014

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