Trans women, activists ridicule homicide conviction of Jennifer Laude killer

Trans woman  Jennifer Laude; U.S. Marine Lance Corporal  Joseph Scott Pemberton

Trans woman Jennifer Laude; U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton

“Hand over Pemberton! No special treatment!”

This is the clear message of Anakbayan-USA, a youth and student organization, in response to press reports that U.S. authorities are refusing to turn over U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton to Philippine custody after being convicted of homicide.

Pemberton, who is from New Bedford, Massachusetts, was found guilty of homicide and sentenced to six to 12 years in prison in the 2014 death of Trans woman Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City. He was also ordered by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court to compensate the Laude family in the amount of $95,000.

“Despite his conviction, the U.S. government is colluding with the Philippine government to undermine the decision that Pemberton be detained in a Philippine prison,” said Anakbayan in a press statement.

The group maintained that Pemberton should have been convicted of murder and not the lesser crime of homicide.

According to reports, Pemberton killed Laude during an intimate moment when he discovered the trans woman to be a male. Evidence suggests Laude was choked and then drowned in a toilet bowl. Pemberton insisted Laude was still alive when he left the hotel room.

Trans woman Michelle Manangan Robinson, who lives with her husband in San Francisco, said Pemberton’s conviction for homicide is “a load of BS.”

“I’m pretty sure he won’t be serving that sentence at the Bilibid. Instead he will be at the Camp Aguinaldo. Kawawa tayong mga Pinay Trans. Our government and our justice system do not give us any iota of protection much less recognition. Someone can literally murder us and get away with it.”

Another Trans woman, LGBT Rights advocate Chelle Lhuillier of the Human Rights Campaign of Greater New York, called the decision “half-baked justice.”

“Justice was still served and better than No Justice at all knowing how poorly our criminal justice system in the Philippines works,” she said. “Our advocacy work continues.”

National Chairperson Yves Nibungco said Anakbayan-USA is urging the U.S. to respect the national sovereignty of the Philippines.

“We demand that President Obama… immediately order U.S. authorities to hand over convicted killer Joseph Scott Pemberton to the Philippine authorities to serve his sentence.”

Anakbayan-USA also denounced the “special treatment” being provided to the convicted U.S. serviceman.

“The Department of Defense recently confirmed that they are constructing a special detention facility for Pemberton. What’s next? Wireless internet access, gourmet meals and a personal gym?” Nibungco retorted. “This is another shameless subservient act by the Philippine government under its imperialist master.”

The youth activists also called on the abrogation of “unequal” agreements between the Philippines and the United States, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

“In light of this injustice, we renew our call for the junking of both the VFA and the EDCA. On top of being a violation of Philippine sovereignty, these agreements condone and protect murderers like Pemberton and further endanger the Philippines and the Filipino people,” Nibungco continued.

Anakbayan-USA is the U.S. chapter of Anakbayan Philippines, an organization of progressive-leaning Filipino youth. It has chapters in 11 U.S. states.

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