FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2014
Reference: Jessica Antonio, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, secgen@bayanusa.org

“Turn US Marine Over to the Philippine Authorities.
We Don’t Need More Daniel Smiths”—BAYAN-USA

BAYAN-USA demands justice for the strangling death of transgender Filipina woman Jennifer Laude, who was found dead Saturday night in an Olongapo City hotel room.  The suspect in Jennifer’s killing, a U.S. Marine, is being held by U.S. authorities on board a U.S. ship.  

“We are outraged that another innocent life has been taken away because of the ongoing infestation of U.S. troops who have no right to be in the Philippines in the first place,” said BAYAN-USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.  “We are equally incensed that the U.S. whisked the suspect Marine away and is holding him aboard an American ship, rather than turning him over to Philippine authorities.  This shows how the U.S. has no respect for Philippine sovereignty or our country’s legal system.”

Approximately 1,400 U.S. troops are currently in Philippine territory for military exercises, in addition to the permanent presence of at least 660 special operations forces stationed on a “rotational basis” in Mindanao.  The basis for the deployment of American forces to the Philippines several times every year is the 1999 U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a one-sided agreement that allows U.S. air, naval, and ground forces to “visit” the Philippines to hold joint exercises with the Philippine military; grants the U.S. use of Philippine air and seaports throughout the country; and provides special privileges and legal protections to U.S. service members stationed in the Philippines.  The VFA is blamed for enabling U.S. serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, convicted in 2006 for the rape of Filipina “Nicole,” to evade his criminal verdict and serve time in the comfort of the U.S. Embassy.  BAYAN-USA anticipates that the situation will only worsen when the newly-forged Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is implemented.

Commenting on U.S. Embassy statements that it would “continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities,” Ellorin said: “ We don’t need any more empty promises.  We don’t need any more Daniel Smiths. We demand that the U.S. turn over the American suspect to Philippine authorities and send the other 2,000 troops currently in our territory packing. We demand the termination of the VFA and the EDCA.”

“This insult to Philippine sovereignty is no surprise, given the history of U.S. militarization in the Philippines.  It also exemplifies exactly why Filipinos are opposed to the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Instead of rushing to implement the EDCA, Aquino should stand up for Philippine sovereignty for once by ensuring that the Philippines asserts complete jurisdiction over Jennifer’s case,” ended Ellorin.

BAYAN-USA urges Filipinos and our allies worldwide to condemn the killing of Jennifer and demand justice for her and all victims of U.S. militarization. Please join us at an action and rally on Wednesday, October 15, 5 PM, in front of the Philippine Embassy at 556 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/349241425253980/?notif_t=plan_user_invited

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BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org.