Manila: Two transgender women have asked for protection after they were identified as witnesses who could incriminate an American serviceman for the killing of a transgender person in central Luzon last week, sources said.
One of them was Mark Clarence Gelviro, 22, who identified Private First Class Joseph Pemberton from photos of suspected killers of Jennifer Laude, whose birth name was Jeffrey, that the United States Naval Crime Investigation Service had provided the Philippine National Police during the murder investigation.
Gelviro was with Laude at the Ambyanz Disco where the latter met Pemberton on the evening of October 11, before they went to Celzone Lodge, said Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokesman of the Philippine National Police, adding that Gelviro’s testimony is “very important”.
At the same time, “Barbie”, 26, was also identified as a witness in search of government protection.
Barbie also identified Pemberton from a series of photos of American servicemen who went to Ambyanz Disco on October 11.
In her sworn statement, Barbie said that she accompanied Laude and Pemberton to the room they were staying in at the Celzone Lodge.
Barbie said she left Laude and Pemberton in the room when she went out with an acquaintance and stayed in another room also in the Celzone Lodge.
Barbie said a room attendant knocked on her door at 11.46pm with news that Laude had passed out in the bathroom of her room.
“My child is traumatised, could not sleep nor eat. I am afraid for my child,” said Barbie’s father in a radio interview. He asked for protection from President Benigno Aquino.
Pemberton participated in a recently concluded Amphibious Landing Exercise between Filipino and US forces in Zambales.
American authorities took custody of Pemberton and three other American servicemen who were with him at the disco prior to the death of Laude. They were incarcerated inside a US warship that docked in Subic Bay on October 11.
Philippine authorities did not allow two US warships from leaving Subic Bay.
The police sent a charge sheet to Manila’s foreign affairs department on Friday, for the subpoena of Pemberton.
The US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, has served as guideline for the resumption of the holding of annual large-scale war games between American and Filipino soldiers in the Philippines starting 2000..
Critics have assailed the VFA as one-sided. It has a provision that the US government retains custody of a US serviceman during the investigation of an alleged crime committed in the Philippines. The US government also retains custody of a US serviceman who is convicted of a crime when this is requested from the Philippine government.