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Protest vs Pemberton shuts down Subic gates

SUBIC FREEPORT ZONE, Philippines – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) put the Subic Freeport on lockdown for a few hours Saturday, October 18, due to a protest against the alleged killer of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.

For about 2 hours on Saturday afternoon, nobody was permitted entry into the Subic freeport – not even residents and workers who were on their way to their respective companies – after militant groups protested infront of the USS Peleliu, where the US marine who allegedly killed Jennifer Laude is being held.

Julita Laude, mother of the victim, and members of militant groups who accompanied her, were able to enter this former US naval base to symbolically serve a subpoena to the suspect, US marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.

"I am here as a mother, and I want [the US marine} to show his face so I can ask why he killed my son. Why did he have to do that to my son?," Julita Laude said.

Julita's daughter Marilou, who is the principal complainant against Pemberton, had another concern.

"We want to know if [Pemberton] is still really here. We want to see him personally," she said.

But the group was barred from getting near the ship by barbed wire fences and security guards.

The law enforcement department of the SBMA also showed up in pick up trucks and tried to get the group to disperse.

This was also when the SBMA shut down the gates to the freeport zone, triggering anger among residents and workers alike.

Asked why they were locking down the freeport, a law enforcement officer told Rappler that they were ''just following orders."

Unable to return to their homes, residents of the Subic freeport vented their ire on social media.

Kemp Velarmino, a resident of the freeport and executive director of an NGO, who was stranded with hundreds of others, asked ''has SBMA gone insane? That's too much and totally unacceptable."

"They can't even give us a reason [for the lockdown]," said Cherylle Raguini, another resident. "It this the proper response? Inabala na ang buong bayan? Para saan? Para sa security and safety?"

Another netizen, Marion Grace, said that the panicked reaction of the SBMA revealed that ''they don't know the protocols to handle the protestors." – Rappler.com