So the reason Harry Roque, legal counsel for the family of slain Filipino transgender Jeffrey Laude, released photos of the victim’s body to the public is reportedly “to gain public sympathy for the case.”
In short, Roque confirms that this is a trial by media. The merits of the case of Laude’s killing allegedly by US Marine Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton are presently being evaluated via due process within the Philippines’ criminal justice system and within the framework of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which governs the working relationship between the armed forces of the United States and the Philippines. But, true to the form of the practice of “law” in the Philippines, half the battle is being fought through appeals to the sentiments of the greater Filipino public.
“It’s high time the Filipino people understand the family’s and Suselbeck’s sense of anger,” Roque said.
And the media is cooperating by contributing to the circus. Photos of the uncovered body of Laude are indeed being exhibited in mainstream media outlets. One meme shows the photos next to the message, “The VFA did this!”
Most normal people would of course find it baffling that a mother would allow such images of her deceased child to be showcased in this way. Most self-respecting publishers as well wouldn’t go as far as exhibiting such bad taste in journalism. But like everything else in the Philippines, notions of what constitutes being “normal” are, well, not normal.
We can defer to what Get Real Post contributor Kate Natividad wrote on the matter of these sorts of violence porn way back before this circus came to town…
Nonetheless there is still the need to show some respect for the dead. Why do photos of dead people with faces uncovered keep circulating around the Net? Even more disappointing is that some of these photos are published by established mainstream media organizations!
I recall reading about how many journalists around the world exercised a lot more restraint when it came to the video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley. A lot of them desisted from any further posting of the videos and its still images on Twitter, and those who already did pulled them off. Maybe it is time journalists and publishers in the Philippines take their cue from that show of respect exhibited by their peers in other countries.
That Roque, presumably a lawyer by profession, would stoop to such levels makes him quite the sleazebag. Criminal cases are fought on the basis of arguments framed by the law. You’d expect this sort of stunt to be effective in systems that use juries to render verdicts. But, in the Philippines, there are no juries in murder trials. So what did Roque hope to achieve?
It seems Roque is substituting good lawyering with cheap sensationalism in this case. To give him a bit of credit, it just might work. This is the Philippines, see.
But it is not likely that the United States military nor, for that matter, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be amused. This sort of stunt can be construed as a deliberate tainting of a nationally-important on-going criminal investigation. A US Marine stands accused of murdering Laude and, with all that, rests the future of military relations between America and the Philippines which is currently facing an external military threat from a belligerent major world power — the People’s Republic of China — that it is ill-equipped to deal with without US assistance.
Indeed, the trial of Pemberton is a national security issue to say the least. Suffice to say, the AFP are in control of vast resources. And they will likely not apply any reservations in using these to crush the laughable stunts Roque put the Laude family up to. Already, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration have detained Laude’s fiancé, German national Marc Sueselbeck for his involvement in forcibly breaching the AFP Headquarters perimeter and assaulting a Filipino soldier over the weekend on the basis of complaints filed by the Philippine military.
Interestingly, Roque in a tweet he fielded tonight gave a clear hint of what is in store for him on account of his antics…
I look forward to answering complaint of AFP before the IBP. They will hopefully stop their tirades wc I consider as threat to my security
It seems that the AFP are in the process of lodging a complaint with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines against Roque, presumably for the unlawyerly behaviour he has so far exhibited in the handling of this case.
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
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