#AnimatED: Murder tests PH-US military ties, calls for tight balancing act
The gruesome murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender Filipino, has sent ripples far beyond Olongapo. The crime has shone the spotlight on military relations between the Philippines and the US – and will test its tenacity at a time of volatility in the region’s security.
Anti-US sentiment surged as the accused turned out to be an American soldier, Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was part of the troops involved in joint military exercises permitted under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The VFA allows US custody over Pemberton but Philippine courts have jurisdiction over him, an issue that remains contentious to this day.
Dark memories of a 10-year old crime committed by a US serviceman have resurfaced, with much force. Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, charged with raping a Filipina, was kept in the US embassy. Today, the two countries have moved forward with Pemberton detained in a Philippine facility, Camp Aguinaldo.
We all await a resolution.
This demands from our leaders a tight balancing act. Justice should be served – the courts should conduct a fair trial without any hint of special treatment for Pemberton – and our long-term security interest be upheld.
The killing of Laude comes at a time when the Supreme Court prepares to deliberate on the PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and as China looms large in today’s heated security context, a factor that was silent a decade ago.
Looking ahead, there is a way out of murderous mishaps of this kind. But it will only happen in the long-term, if the Philippines equips and strengthens its military and builds a respectable force. - Rappler.com