Fil-Am activists slam Pemberton verdict as ‘half-hearted victory’

SAN FRANCISCO – Chants of disapproval and disgust over the recent verdict of U.S. service member Joseph Scott Pemberton for killing transgender Pinay Jennifer Laude echoed throughout San Francisco.

These Filipino American activists argue that despite the U.S. Marine’s homicide conviction, Pemberton was let off easy.

“Justice was not served,” said Rhonda Ramiro of BAYAN USA. “This was a half-hearted victory at best. Finally, there was a conviction but unfortunately we are skeptical as to whether if Pemberton will even serve a day of his sentence in Philippine custody.”

“What’s problematic with this and the ruling of the court is that it’s promoting or just enabling a culture of transphobia, transphobic violence,” said Tina Shauf of GABRIELA USA.

These activists continue to say that this case sets a precedent that the U.S. still holds authority over the Philippines because of such agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Act (EDCA).

“So long as the US-Aquino regime continues, as long as the United States has presence in the Philippines through US bases, through the 6,000 soldiers that are stationed in the Philippines right now as we speak, it will just perpetuate this impunity,” said Pixie Castillo of the League of Filipino Students – San Francisco State University.

Shauf adds, “To me I don’t want our tax dollars here in the US to support US military occupation in the Philippines because time and time again we have seen human rights violations that tear families apart that put families and women and children in a situation where they are violated.”

Meanwhile in the Philippines the Laude family wants Eduardo Oban, the executive director of the Presidential Commission on the VFA, and 11 other Americans to be cited for indirect contempt.

Laude’s family lawyer Harry Roque said that Oban must be held liable for allegedly violating a court order to detain Pemberton at New Bilibid Prison.

Pemberton was allegedly brought instead to the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group located in Camp Aguinaldo, a mutually agreed upon site by U.S. and Philippine authorities.

Oban says holding Pemberton at the Camp Aguinaldo site is in line with VFA requirements.

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