Family of Jennifer Laude seeks help from Aquino

MANILA, Philippines – The mother of slain transgender Jennifer Laude on Thursday, October 16, personally appealed to President Benigno Aquino III to help her seek justice for her child.

Julita Laude made the appeal in a press conference in Olongapo City, a day after they filed a complaint against against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

"Sana tulungan niya kami. Kasi kung ganoon din lang na walang mangyayari, para na rin kaming itinapon….Naghahanap kami ng hustisya (I hope he helps us, because if nothing happens, it will be as if he just threw us aside….We are seeking justice),” Laude said.

She added: “[Responsibilidad] niyang tumulong sa amin dahil tao kami ng gobyerno….Sana maawa siya, tulungan niya kami. Sana man lang may aksyon o umusad ang aming reklamo. (It is his responsibility to help us because we are the people of this government….I hope he takes pity on us and helps us. We hope our complaint would move forward)."

She said in Filipino that poor people like herself “also have the right to complain and seek help” from the government.

The Laude family filed a murder complaint against Pemberton on Wednesday, October 15, four days after Laude was found dead at Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City.  The autopsy report showed she died due to asphyxiation by drowning.

Roque said the Laude family decided to go ahead with the filing of a murder complaint a day earlier to show the government that it had to act now.

Pemberton is being held on board the USS Peleliu, under the custody of the United States, following a provision in the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) signed between the Philippines and the United States.

Under the VFA, the Philippines can seek custody of a US soldier accused of committing a crime in its territory under "extraordinary circumstances."

The Philippines has already said that it wants to get the American soldier under its custody.

The Laude family is demanding that the Philippines take custody of Pemberton immediately.

Roque said they fear that without the physical presence of Pemberton being shown to the public, there is no certainty that the soldier is still being held on the USS Peleliu.

He warned that if the government  fails to bring the complaint to the accused by Friday, the family will try to deliver it to Pemberton on Saturday.

In a news conference, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said that following procedure, the public prosecutor will give a copy of the complaint to the accused.

Jose added that the Philippine government will seek custody of Pemberton after the court issues a warrant for his arrest, as provided under the Philippine criminal justice system.

The VFACommission had earlier said that it would request the US to turn over custody of Pemberton to the Philippines once there is a warrant for his arrest, following procedure. – Rappler.com