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Join GABRIELA in Demanding Justice for Filipina Trans-woman Jennifer Laude and Sign Online Petition!

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Stop Anti-LGBT Violence!

End Unequal Relations Between the Philippines and the US!

Terminate VFA and surrender Pemberton Now!

SIGN ONLINE PETITION: 

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/justice-for-filipina-trans-woman-jennifer-laude 

 

To: Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, US President Barack Obama, Senator John Kerry (U.S. Secretary of State), Secretary Albert Ferreros del Rosario (Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs), Secretary Leila De Lima (Philippine Department of Justice), Representative Adam Smith (House of Armed Services Committee), Senator Robert Mendez (Chair, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Harold Rogers (Chair, U.S. Committee on Appropriations), Philip Goldberg (U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines

We are deeply saddened by the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman from the Philippines, and express our deepest condolences to Jennifer’s family and friends.  On October 11, Jennifer was found strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City, Philippines.  An autopsy report has shown the cause of death as “asphyxia by drowning.”  The suspected murderer, U.S. Marine Corp PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, is currently being held in detention aboard the USS Peleliu warship in Subic Bay.  Her death, clearly the result of a violent hate crime towards transgender people, also underscores the ongoing inequality of joint US-RP agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which give US military personnel impunity, as such was the case with Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

 Trans Lives Matter

Systemic violence and aggressive hate is a reality for LGBT people. Transgender people are treated as second-class citizens and their lives are systemically devalued and marginalized in economic, political, social, and cultural spheres of society. Transgender people such as Jennifer suffer from unspeakable violent acts and human rights abuses on everyday.

VFA is an Obstruction to Justice, Enforces Unequal Relations

At the same time, justice for Jennifer Laude hinges upon the treatment of the murder suspect in question, and under whose custody he will be placed and tried. The 2006 trial of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith underscored the special treatment of US military personnel who commit crimes on Philippine soil under the auspices of the VFA. Smith was charged and convicted of rape of a Filipina by the Makati City Regional Trial Court, was held at the US Embassy rather than a Philippine jail, and later acquitted and released by the Court of Appeals in 2009.

In Jennifer’s case, the VFA again poses as an obstruction to justice, with Pemberton still in the custody of the US military.

The tragic death comes just six months after President Obama visited Manila to sign a new agreement that expands the VFA and US military presence in the Philippines– the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

This observation of one-sidedness is reinforced by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says treaties entered into by the U.S. are not enforceable in the U.S. unless there is an implementing law or if the treaty is self-executing. The VFA, which was not even ratified as a treaty by the U.S. Senate, has neither an implementing law nor is self-executing. It is inequality, and an affront to sovereignty, when the VFA becomes enforceable in the Philippines but not in the U.S.

The Smith and Pemberton cases are just two of the many problems that have arisen from the VFA, a military pact that governs the entry and presence of American troops in Philippine territory. The VFA provides for, among others, the deployment and stationing of U.S. troops and the holding of joint military operations in the Philippines. Unknown to many, U.S. troops have been stationed in the Philippines since 2002 up to the present. The extent of U.S. deployment in the Philippines increased during George Bush’s discredited “war on terror.”

Funding Human Rights Violations Instead of Saving Jobs and Homes in the U.S.

The holding of U.S. military exercises is tied with providing military aid to the Philippines, with an annual $30 million allotted by the U.S. Congress and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in other assistance. The accumulated U.S. military funding for the Philippines from 2001 to the present may have already reached $1 billion.

Such a practice, however, becomes unconscionable when U.S. funding is used by a regime that – to borrow words from President Barack Obama- “clings to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” A 2008 US Senate Hearing led to cuts in US military funding to the Philippine government per documentary evidence involvement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in extrajudicial-killings, enforced disappearances, forced evacuation of rural communities, illegal detentions, and torture.

The VFA, despite the military exercises and aid, provides absolutely no short-term nor long-term benefits to the people of either the U.S. or the Philippines. Filipino citizens have staged an escalating number of protests to voice their opposition to the Agreement and its violation of Philippine sovereignty. Several Philippine senators have also filed a resolution calling for its abrogation.

The Obama administration has vowed a departure from the Bush foreign policies. Terminating the VFA and removing U.S. troops from the Philippines would be a step in that direction.

We demand:

  • That the Aquino government assert jurisdiction over the murder of transwoman Jennifer Laude by US Marine PFC Pemberton
  • That the Obama government immediately waive custody of US Marine PFC Pemberton to the Philippine authorities
  • That the lives of Transgender People be protected and valued, including the passing of Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination legislation that protects Transgender People in the Philippines and the US.
  • The termination of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement for being an unequal pact saddled with legal problems

JUSTICE FOR JENNIFER LAUDE!

STOP ANTI-LGBT VIOLENCE! TRANS-LIVES MATTER!

TERMINATE THE VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT!

END UNEQUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND THE U.S.!

END ALL HATE CRIMES AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE!

U.S. Marine Murders Filipino Trans Woman in the Philippines and Filipina-Americans Demand Justice!

For Immediate Release

October 13, 2014

Reference: Irma Bajar, Vice Chair of International Relations, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

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Filipina-American women under GABRIELA USA are outraged by the news of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year old transgender woman from the Philippines. The suspected murderer, U.S. Marine Corp PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, was last seen checking into a hotel with Jennifer in Olongapo City, Philippines. Jennifer was later found strangled to death with her head plunged in a toilet bowl. Reminiscent of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith and the historic 2005 rape case of Nicole, Pemberton, suspected of murdering Jennifer, is currently being held in detention aboard a U.S. Navy ship instead of being turned over to Philippine authorities for proper investigation. GABRIELA USA demands accountability and justice for Jennifer’s life, as a trans woman who has fallen victim to U.S. militarization!

“Jennifer’s death is not only a direct impact of U.S. military presence in the Philippines, but her brutal murder further exposes the daily vulnerability of trans women who regularly suffer systemic violence and hate crimes in a patriarchal-imperialist system,” says Pia Cortez, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA’s San Francisco chapter.

Despite the long history of Filipinos opposing U.S. military occupation in the Philippines and the ever-increasing number of state-sponsored human rights abuses tied to U.S. military occupation, President Aquino continues to hand over Philippine sovereignty by allowing more U.S. troops to occupy Philippine soil through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the recent Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). At a time when the Obama administration is heightening its position over the Asia Pacific region, more U.S. troops can only mean more cases of violence against women and children.

“Trans women like Jennifer are at a higher risk for violence because we live in a system that delegitimizes their lives,” says Irma Bajar of GABRIELA USA. “Just this summer in the U.S., 8 trans women of color fell victim to hate crimes and murders. Although there is an increase in violence towards trans people worldwide, little is ever done to protect their lives and hold perpetrators accountable. The murder of Jennifer is clearly a hate crime committed by U.S. military personnel, and he must be held accountable by the Philippine justice system!”

GABRIELA USA extends its sympathies to Jennifer’s family, and honors the lives of all trans people who have fallen victim to a system that does not value trans lives and perpetuates a culture of violence. GABRIELA USA will be holding an action in New York and a vigil in San Francisco this Wednesday, October 15th to condemn the murder of Jennifer Laude, and demand for the swift turnover of the U.S. Marine to Philippine authorities.

Justice for Jennifer Laude!

Trans Lives Matter!

US Troops OUT of the Philippines!

JUNK THE VFA!

Scrap EDCA!

Join us to Demand Justice for Jennifer in New York and San Francisco:

NEW YORK

Contact: Irma Bajar, irmabajar@gmail.com, 206-321-2931

Wednesday, October 15th, 5 PM

Action and Rally in front of the Philippine Embassy

556 Fifth Avenue, New York

Organized by: BAYAN Queer Caucus, GABRIELA New York, and Barangay New York- LGBTQ Pin@ys

SAN FRANCISCO

Contact: Pia Cortez, priscilla.crtz@gmail.com, 650-296-3518

Wednesday, October 15th, 6 PM

Community Vigil at Union Square (at Dewey Monument)

333 Post Street, San Francisco

Organized by: GABRIELA San Francisco and BAYAN Bay Area Regional Caucus

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Trafficked Teachers Demand Answers from the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 6, 2014

Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

Aquino fail

WASHINGTON D.C.— On October 3rd, member organizations of GABRIELA USA from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., descended on the U.S. national capital to demand justice for over 300 Filipino teachers who are victims of labor trafficking. It has almost been 1 year since the imprisonment of the recruitment agency owner and primary trafficker, Isidro Rodriguez, in the Philippines last November, and since his release last May, he is still at large. “We demand justice and hold Philippine government institutions accountable for allowing such things to happen, as we are still struggling to gain immigration relief in the US and pursue a human trafficking case against our trafficker in the Philippines,” says Janet Gardose, Vice Chair of Campaigns of GABRIELA Washington DC and one of the trafficked teacher survivors.

Last Wednesday, October 1st, a delegation consisting of teachers and other members of the national alliance GABRIELA USA met with Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, the highest-ranking Philippine government official based in the U.S., to follow up on promises that he made for redress in the trafficking case of the teachers. “Despite the several meetings and attempts to reach out for their help for all of the teachers who have come forward, the process in gaining their support has been bureaucratic and unreliable in responding to the urgent needs of all of the teachers and the countless number of Overseas Filipino Workers lacking protections and experience neglect,” says Jo Quiambao, Co-Chairperson of GABRIELA Washington DC. Many teachers have already filed complaints to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in previous years and have not received any recourse to pursue an investigation of poor practices or to ensure migrants are protected. The teachers have been waiting for the support of their own government since 2008.

GABRIELA USA members from across the nation assembled to expose the culpability of the Philippine government in enabling human trafficking through the systematic use of the Labor Export Policy. “I’m a victim of human trafficking and I was so scared of Rodriguez because he threatened our lives. For a long time, I was working for $50 for every 24 hours of work, but I needed to sacrifice for my family. I chose to be a GABRIELA member because I was so scared to be alone, and realized that it is important to fight for justice for myself and other victims,” says Rio Cachola, member of GABRIELA, Washington DC. President BS Aquino perpetuates the exploitative Labor Export Policy, which systematically exports 5,000 Filipinos abroad daily without adequate protections, leaving them to fend for themselves while reaping billions of dollars in remittances per year. Exporting Filipinos out of the country to support their families does not genuinely develop the country.

President BS Aquino neglects to develop national industries and engages in unequal U.S.-imperialist policies, which does not create nearly enough jobs for Filipinos to have a choice to stay home with their families and aggravates the problem forced migration. President Barack Obama continues to impose policies with President BS Aquino, such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and they have also discussed having the Philippines join the Trans Pacific Partnership, which sacrifices national sovereignty and subjugates the Philippine politics and economy to foreign will. “Such policies will only exacerbate forced migration in the coming years and will further enable human trafficking without addressing the root causes of forced migration and the lack of protections of migrant workers,” concludes Tina Shauf, Campaigns Officer of GABRIELA USA. Additionally, as migrants arrive in the U.S., they are criminalized for their presence despite their victimization as trafficked victims and the important jobs they occupy in the American economy. Filipino trafficked teachers are both pushed out of their country and pulled into a web of problematic issues in the U.S.

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The contingent concluded the program with a dance in front of the embassy to celebrate the collective strength it is taking to demand justice, dignity and respect for the teachers. GABRIELA USA demands justice for Filipino trafficked teachers directly from the Aquino administration and urge the Philippine Embassy to support all the teachers in pursuing a human trafficking case with an expedited process of their T-Visas to provide immigration relief.

BS Aquino: Trafficker In Chief!

Immigration Relief for Trafficked Teachers NOW!

#sulonggabriela

#gabrielausa

#justice4filipinotraffickedteachers

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