CHR defends Laude fiance in fence-climbing stunt
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Loretta Ann Rosales on Friday, October 24, defended the German fiance of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude who is under threat of deportation for unauthorized entry into a Philippine military base and assaulting a military officer.
Rosales made the statement in an interview with reporters at the final day of the wake of Laude, who would be interred that afternoon.
On Wednesday, German national Marc Sueselbeck and Laude's sister, Marilou, climbed the perimeter fence of the military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, saying they wanted to personally see the US Marine alleged to have murdered Laude.(WATCH: Jennifer Laude's sister, fiance, climb military fence)
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is poised to raise Sueselbeck's "misbehavior" in a formal letter to the German embassy and the Bureau of Immigration, citing Philippine law that bars foreigners from unauthorized entry in military bases, and Sueselbeck's "assault" on a military officer who tried to block his path.
Sueselbeck had apologized for his actions, saying he "just blanked out" at the time.
Rosales said she believed that Sueselbeck had no other intention than to ensure that US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton was inside the military camp, where he has been detained since Wednesday, but under US custody.
"[Ginawa niya iyon] hindi para magnakaw, hindi para magsira ng property, hindi para mag-terrorize (He did it not to steal, not to damage property, not to terrorize)," Rosales said, adding that the two just wanted to "satisfy fears and uncertainty" about Pemberton's whereabouts.
She added: "Karapatan nila na malaman na talagang nandiyan [si Pemberton] at dapat nasa custody ng Philippine government (It is their right to know if he is really there, and he should be under the custody of the Philippine government)."
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States provides that Philippine courts have jurisdiction over erring US soldiers but will remain in US custody until the resolution of their cases. Philippines can request for custody in "extraordinary cases."
The VFA allows the US to conduct joint military drills with Philippine troops in the Philippines. One of these drills in had brought Pemberton to the country.
Rosales said any charges being considered against Sueselbeck must always be assessed within the larger context of why he and Laude's supporters were in the vicinity of the military camp.
"Please recognize the anxiety and the uncertainties of the family," Rosales said.
Interviewed separately, Laude's stepfather Franco Cabillan said his wife, Julita, was there with Sueselbeck "para lumawag' yung puso (to ease the burden in their hearts)."
Cabillan expressed doubts over the identity of the man transferred from a US ship to Camp Aguinaldo, adding that the man's face was covered, based on video footage taken by the media. This, he said, did not assure the Laude family that Pemberton is really in the country.
"Dapat ipakita yung mukha (His face must be shown)," he said.
He believed that the same would not be true if it was a Filipino prosecuted in US soil.
"Kapag tayo doon, kulong agad (If it were us there, we'd be in jail immediately)," he said. – Rappler.com