Advocates, groups clamor for justice for Jennifer Laude on the eve of her 4th death anniversary
Quezon City, Philippines – Led by Dakila through Active Vista, and Youth Against Sexual Harassment (YASH), various organizations and advocates gathered on October 10, Wednesday, at Cine Adarna, UP Film Center, UP Diliman, to commemorate the death of Jennifer Laude on the eve of her 4th death anniversary. UP Film Institute (UPFI), UP Babaylan, Filipino Freethinkers, and LGBTQIA+ community members, allies, and advocates were also present to express solidarity.
The night began with a solemn candle lighting where Laude’s family and friends, and the attendees offered prayers and minutes of silence to remember her. The act also signified support to the campaign against the extreme violence and discrimination that transwomen continue to face around the globe. The attendees further expressed their adamant clamor for justice through signing on a blank board to call for a just, immediate, and final resolution of the Supreme Court for Laude’s case.
“It has been four years after the tragedy but we have to keep talking about this until we achieve the complete justice she [Laude] deserves,” DAKILA Organizing Director and LGBTQIA+ advocate Cha Roque related.
The highlight of the night was the screening and panel discussion of Call Her Ganda, a documentary film by PJ Raval that follows three women — an activist lawyer (Atty. Virgie Suarez), a transgender journalist (Meredith Talusan), and Jennifer’s mother (Julita “Nanay” Laude) — as they galvanize a political uprising, taking on hardened histories of U.S. imperialism, in the pursuit of justice for Laude.
“We are gathered here tonight to make the act of watching a film [an] act of remembering,” UPFI Director Patrick Campos said.
In their opening remarks before the screening, stakeholders related the importance of events and screenings like that of last night’s in the pursuit of justice for Laude, a transwoman supposedly killed by suspect US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton after he found out about former’s sexuality.
“PJ Raval’s Call Her Ganda came at the very crucial time when there is a need to shed light on the plight of LGBT and transwomen here in the Philippines,” YASH President Alex Castro, on the other hand, said.
Roque added, “DAKILA and Active Vista believe that the fight of LGBTQIA+ community is a fight for human rights and should concern us all. May films like Call Her Ganda continue to open our eyes to harsh realities and help us achieve the justice that Jennifer Laude deserves.”
While Call Her Ganda depicted the insidious effects of homophobia and transphobia, it also revealed how U.S. imperialism protects Pemberton from the punishments of his crime.
“While the government has changed hats over these past years, the face of injustice robed in the culture of impunity remains the same. Pemberton, was convicted guilty in 2015 by the Olongapo Trial Court and is incarcerated while waiting for the final resolution for the case still pending in the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Though this is a major victory in the history of cases of aggression by the US in the Philippine territory, the path towards genuine national sovereignty is still miles away. Pemberton is currently being held in a US-guarded camp enjoying benefits that no ordinary Filipino prisoner would ever get,” Active Vista Executive Director Leni Velaso related.
“What we think makes this film, this documentary, very unique, is not only its display of gender issues here in the Philippines, but its masterful display of the intersectionality of gender issues with other issues the Philippines is currently facing such as poverty, machismo, corruption, the inefficiency of the justice system, and, of course, the persistent presence and control of the US over the Philippines,” Castro also added.
In the end, advocates expressed that justice for Laude signifies justice for all LGBTQIA+ community members who suffered from discrimination and hatred because of their sexuality, and justice for all the Filipino people.
“We aim to strengthen the call to end discrimination and violence against women and the LGBT, and of course, to bring justice to all Filipinos, and for us to stand against our oppressors. Justice for Jennifer Laude, justice to all Filipinos!” Castro asserted.
“We are being gathered together tonight to signify our responsibility to embracing our next generation so that we as a people can risen above murderous ignorance, fear, and hatred and so what happened to Ganda [Jennifer Laude] and all the intersectional things that it meant between sexes, between classes, between countries, will never have to happen again,” ended Campos.
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