Clueless AFP colonel explains Laude murder
“Hindi naman niya siguro sadyain makapatay dun.”
One of the first official Philippine responses to the gruesome murder of Jennifer Laude features the incredibly crass comments of a clueless Armed Forces of the Philippines colonel.
“He probably didn’t mean to kill her.”
That’s how Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief AFP spokesman, tried to explain why US Marine Private First Class Joseph Pemberton could have beaten up Laude before dunking her head into a toilet bowl in an Olongapo hotel.
“Nakainom siguro, crime of passion, di niya na-kontrol sarili niya,” the colonel continued, according to a report in INQUIRER.net.
The Philippine military spokesman added: “I heard he was really very sorry of course ang nasiraan ay hindi lang ang pangalan niyang Pemberton but the whole US Armed Forces ang nadawit sa ginawa niya.”
Of course, there have been more outrageous reactions.
In a society where gays, lesbians and transgender Filipinos face intense, even violent discrimination, it’s not surprising that some blame Laude for what happened to her and even portray Pemberton as the victim in this crime.
But one would expect a more measured, more politically savvy, more humane responses from the Philippine military and Malacanang.
Instead, we get a Philippine colonel who seems to be more worried about the murder case’s impact on the U.S. military’s reputation and that of the American soldier who committed this horrible crime.
And we have Malacanang instinctively defending the Visiting Forces Agreement, which paved the way for the return of US forces, instead of protesting the killing of one of its own citizens by a soldier from a visiting foreign military force.
“We should be looking at the bigger picture,” Aquino administration spokesman Herminio Coloma told Radyo ng Bayan.
But the Laude murder has become an important part of the bigger picture. That’s a key point the Aquino Administration seems to be missing.
An agreement that’s supposed to help the Philippines defend itself against foreign aggressors has understandably raised serious concerns that it also means surrendering a sizeable chunk of Philippine sovereignty to the country’s former colonial master.
And Malacanang offering lame public statements on the killing of its own citizen, and an AFP spokesman speculating that maybe there was a valid reason for the crime are bound to reinforce these fears.
Especially in the wake of the 2005 Subic rape case fiasco in which another American soldier was convicted of raping a Filipina. In a controversial twist, Corporal Daniel Smith was later acquitted and quickly whisked out of the country in the middle of the night.
There’s still time for Malacanang to change its tune, to offer a stronger, more dignified response to this tragedy.
Surely, President Aquino and his team can think of a better reaction than, ‘Di naman siguro sinasadyang bugbugin at lunurin sa kubeta. Nakainom lang kasi e.’
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