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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

US to Produce Marine Linked to Transgender's Murder

The United States said yesterday it would comply with an Olongapo city prosecutor’s order to produce a murder suspect and four other US Marines in the investigation into the killing of a transgender.
The prosecutor ordered the five US Marines to give depositions at a formal hearing on Tuesday after police named one of them, Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, as a suspect in the October 11 hotel killing in Olongapo City.
“The United States will continue to assist in the investigation to help ensure justice is served,” US embassy spokeswoman Anna Richey said in an emailed response to AFP’s requests for comment.
“This will include making the suspect, witnesses, and any evidence gathered available to the Philippine authorities.”
Richey said the suspect was being held on board the USS Peleliu pending an investigation into the death of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, described by local police as a transgender.
The four other American marines sought by prosecutors were described by the Department of Foreign Affairs as witnesses. 

The Laude family has been calling for swift justice for the transgender.
Friday night, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay visited Laude’s wake but declined to answer questions about the consequences of the case on the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US.
Binay also refused to give his views on calls for the review of the VFA, saying it is up to Congress to do so.
Nonetheless, he said he is praying that justice would be attained by Laude’s family.
Yesterday, around 50 demonstrators had a cat-and-mouse chase against law enforcers inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone as they protested the killing of Laude. They demanded that Pemberton be jailed.
Bayan and the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), along with the League of Filipino Students, went inside this premier Freeport Zone through the main gates, unknown to the law enforcers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
The group used closed vans and all-purpose vehicles to transport their members to the designated area at the Waterfront Road adjacent to where the USS Peleliu was docked.
During that time, some US marines were exercising at the Alava Pier and witnessed the demonstration. Security officials of the Alava Pier have already blocked the pathway with barbed wire, making the entry now impossible.
The group was led by lawyer Virgie Suarez, legal counsel for the Laude family.
A teary-eyed mother of Jeffrey asked for justice for the death of her son, saying he was “very precious to her.”
A summon was posted at the barbed wire of the entrance by Suarez, adding that since they don’t know who or where they should submit the summon, the only logical thing is to post it in front of the entrance of where the USS Peleliu is docked.
After their protest, the group peacefully dispersed as the law enforcers guided them toward the exit. 
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