Olongapo slay victim's family taps human rights lawyer

MANILA, Philippines – Human rights lawyer Harry Roque Jr will represent the family of the transgender woman allegedly killed by a US serviceman over the weekend in Olongapo City.

Roque will stand as the counsel of the family of Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer, in the case to be filed against the US Marine suspected of the murder.

The 26-year-old Laude was found dead in the bathroom of Celzone Lodge on Saturday, October 11. Three days later, Olongapo police identified the suspect as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Roque will represent the family in the case to be filed against Pemberton. Earlier, police said it will take at least two to 3 weeks before charges can be filed, as investigators are awaiting the results of the autopsy.

The American soldier is currently under US custody, following a provision in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that grants the US custody over erring officers.

However, the Philippine government has said that it will seek custody over Pemberton charges are filed against the suspect.

Roque, one of the lawyers who questioned the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed between the Philippines and the United States in April, said Laude's case was "proof that the presence of foreign troops on Philippine soil will never work for the national interest."

In a post on his blog on Tuesday, Roque wrote: “We should learn from history, foreign military presence and national interest do not mix well."

The US Embassy earlier vowed to work closely with the Philippine National Police in the investigation.

Malacañang has also given its assurance that there would be no whitewash in the probe. – Rappler.com