October 2014, a group of Filipinos are protesting the presence of the U.S. military after the killing of filipino transgender Jennifer Laude by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the 9th Marines, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The victim Jennifer (formerly Jeffrey) Laude dressed as a woman and met Joseph in a bar.
The Marine was on shore leave in Olongapo City when he befriended two he thought were Filipino women at a disco bar called Ambyanz.
According to the the Philippine National Police investigation, they checked into the Celzone Lodge, a motel. Laude asked the other woman, Barbie, to leave before Joseph could discover that they were both transgender.
When Celzone Lodge staff went to inspect and clean the room, Laude’s body was discovered slumped next to the toilet. Joseph had already fled the scene. Laude was drowned in the toilet.
The murder brings back memories of past abuses and crimes by US services members when the US had a larger presence in the Philippines in the 80’s, so some groups strongly believe the US should not have been invited back. These groups see the murder of Jennifer Laude as evidence that America and its military should be thrown out immediately.
Joseph Scott Pemberton was given over to the Philippines government to be dealt with by the justice system. Meanwhile, this situation has put a strain on Philippine-US relations at least on a social level. Politically, there is a lot at stake. The US is pushing to send more troops to the Philippines in light of China’s aggressive actions to attempt to bully and takeover of the entire China sea and all the islands therein.
Although some seek to get rid of the US, President Benigno Aquino III defended the military agreement and cooperation with the military by saying, a crime can happen anywhere and “the sin of one person” should not reflect on the entire country.