Whether the victim was gay or straight, looks like a girl and is a girl, or looks like a girl but is really a man is really a non-issue, isn’t it? The case of Jeffrey Laude, a Filipino transgender found murdered in a hotel room in Olongapo city is really just that — a murder case. The suspected perpetrator, a United States Marine, is reportedly in the custody of the US Navy, according to the ABC News.
“A joint Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Philippine National Police investigation is being conducted concerning the death of Jeffrey Laude, a Philippine national,” said Col. Brad Bartelt, the spokesperson for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific.
In a statement, Bartelt said the Marine Corp “is working closely and cooperating fully with the Philippine National Police to ensure a thorough investigation is completed and due process of law is followed.”
He confirmed that the unidentified Marine is being held onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu during the investigation.
There is some reason to believe that this was a hate crime but one that involved what is known as the ‘Crying Game’ effect. The term alludes to the 1992 British film The Crying Game where Fergus (played by Stephen Rea) is shocked to find out that Dil (played by Jaye Davidson), a girl he’s fallen in love with, is really a man. That he found out just as they were about to have sex compounded the horror of the discovery to the point that Fergus was shown throwing up in the bathroom of Dil’s apartment.
An interesting piece of information in an Inquirer report on the incident seems to add a bit of credence to this angle…
Mark Clarence Gelviro, 22, the victim’s friend, said he and Laude met the suspect at the Ambyanz Disco Bar, also on Magsaysay Drive, at 10:55 p.m.
Gelviro told the police that Laude asked him to accompany them to the hotel.
He said Laude, when they reached the hotel, then asked him to leave before the foreigner could discover that they were transgenders.
American forces are currently in the Philippines to conduct exercises jointly with the Philippine Navy under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that grants the US access to key military facilities around the country. However, while the VFA grants the Philippines “primary rights” over the jurisdiction of offending US personnel in crimes committed within its territory, it also limits the Philippine police’s jurisdiction in the investigation of these crimes. Paragraph 6 of Article 5 of the VFA thus states in this regard…
The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings. United States military authorities shall, upon formal notification by the Philippine authorities and without delay, make such personnel available to those authorities in time for any investigative or judicial proceedings relating to the offense with which the person has been charged.
It is likely too that Filipino activists who are “anti-imperialism” advocates will make this to be all about something bigger than just murder. A whole raft of controversial, often inflammatory issues can potentially be woven into the case including gay rights, the “immorality” of American military personnel that is a widely-held presumption amongst Filipinos, neo-imperialism, and the legality of the use of Philippine military bases by US forces.
In 2006 US soldier Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the rape of a Filipino woman in 2005. Initially, the accuser, Suzette Nicolas, alleged that she was gang-raped. After a few days, she then said that only Lance Corporal Daniel Smith raped her. She also said that just before midnight of November 1, 2005, Smith raped her inside a moving Starex van at Alava Pier in Subic. Suzette also alleged that Smith’s other companions, Lance Corporals Keith Silkwood and Dominic Duplantis and Staff Sergeant Chad Carpentier, were inside the van cheering Smith on as it happened. Smith countered the charges saying that what occurred between him and Suzette was consensual sex.
However, Nicolas later recanted her allegations against Smith et al, saying that she “may have possibly lost [her] inhibitions, became so intimate with Daniel Smith and did more than just dancing and talking with him” on the night of the alleged crime.
“My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away,” she said.
Indeed, some Filipinos and expatriates believe that Nicolas was just an extortionist, whose rape story was just a lie which militants were willing to use to score the government on the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement. Before the court found Smith guilty, lawyer and columnist Connie Veneracion wrote in a Manila Standard article, “One of the popular theories going around is that this is a case of extortion…”, concluding, “Without passing on the truth or falsity of such a claim…, extortion is a matter for the defense to establish as a clear motive supported by relevant evidence. Character is not sufficient evidence. Only those without real evidence rely on guesswork, innuendoes and trial by publicity.”
Suffice to say, this recent imbroglio will likely be another one of those politically-charged cases that Filipinos will be watching closely in the coming months, or even years.
[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Subic rape case” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]
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