FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2015
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Not Enough: Pemberton is Guilty of Murder
The long-awaited verdict of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton for the murder of Jennifer Laude was released today in the Philippines. He was found guilty of homicide, considered a lesser offense than murder, sentenced to serve 6-12 years in prison and ordered to pay the Laude family $95,000. However, Julia Cabillan, Jennifer’s mother states “No amount of money could pay for the years I spent raising my child. What they did to my child was gruesome. Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we can’t fight for justice”.
Members of GABRIELA USA rallied outside of the Olongapo Regional Trial Court house with GABRIELA Philippines and BAYAN Philippines, demanding the conviction of Pemberton as well as the immediate termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Meanwhile, US Marines refuse to give up custody of Pemberton and turn him over to Philippine authorities, an outright disregard for the respect of the Philippine justice system and an affront to Philippine sovereignty.
“The guilty verdict for Pemberton’s crime is a small victory yet insufficient as his guilty conviction was for the crime of homicide instead of murder. GABRIELA USA members strongly believe that Pemberton is culpable for the murder of Jennifer Laude, and for the facade of “trans panic” to absolve him of his crime is despicable and inexcusable,” stated Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA, “His transphobia does not justify the brutal transphobic violence that ended Jennifer’s life. He is guilty of murder!”
The Laude case has had significant implications on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and questions have yet again been raised in Philippine Congress and Senate regarding the VFA in light of the Laude case. However, since the recent visit of US President Barack Obama to the Philippines during the recent APEC Leaders Meeting, a statement was released, confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the EDCA and that joint defense and humanitarian work between both countries will continue. “Jennifer Laude. Nicole. Countless others suffer under unequal agreements like the EDCA. It is unconstitutional and it has and will continue to negatively impact Filipino women, children, and LGBTQ people,” Tina Shauf, GABRIELA USA Mass Campaigns Officer commented. GABRIELA USA calls for the eradication of the EDCA and unequal agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement putting the lives of Filipinos like Jennifer Laude at risk daily.
With the Philippine elections approaching in May 2016, GABRIELA USA is urging presidential candidates to have a strong platform to protect Philippine national sovereignty and put an end to agreements and policies that bow down to US imperialist interest. “The only way the Filipino people can truly achieve victory is if the Philippine government upholds national sovereignty by immediately terminating the VFA and EDCA,” Francisco concludes.
This Friday, December 4th marks 9 years since the guilty verdict of Daniel Smith, and as long as unequal policies and agreements exist between the US and Philippines, it is inevitable that there will be more Nicoles and Jennifers. GABRIELA USA will not forget that countless Filipino women and children have been negatively impacted by US military occupation, and we say ENOUGH is ENOUGH! We demand an end to US Occupation over our land and bodies!
End US Occupation over our land and bodies!
Justice for Jennifer Laude and all trans women! End Transmisogyny Now!
US Troops Out of the Philippines! Junk the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA)!
GABRIELA USA is a grassroots-based alliance of progressive Filipino women’s organizations in the United States seeking to wage a struggle for the liberation of all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of our people.