I am not denigrating the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in the hands of US Marine Joseph Pemberton. Anytime a heinous crime is committed against a person, regardless of his/her sexual orientation, it is always understandable that an uproar ensues and the clamor for justice demanded by the victim’s family, friends and supporters who identify with the victim.
The circumstances surrounding Laude’s death made it a perfect crucible for disappointment and anger for those concerned that it resulted to the demand of abrogating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the US and the Philippine governments.
But think about it again – do we really have to do that?
Yes, the death of Laude is an issue because an American soldier is involved, but while the case is admittedly still under the purview of the VFA, it should be legally treated separately and distinctly without really jeopardizing the importance and the bigger significance that the VFA is all about.
The Phil-US relationship, through the VFA, is a bigger concern and people should be aware of this. Let not the death of a person, no matter how brutal, overshadow the benefits the country get out of this agreement.
The VFA is not only about strengthening the common security interest of both nations, but it also allows us to develop better the capabilities of our troops through crisis-action planning, enhanced training to conduct counter terrorism operations, and promoting interoperability of the forces.
Let us face it. If the Philippines won’t play a role in supporting the US in its critical pivot to Asia strategy, what would become of us and from whom shall we seek help especially that China is already poised to take over the control of the South China Sea and practically has already a foot in our own territorial waters?
Yes, we have the troops in the AFP but what good are they without the much needed military equipment to protect our land, the sea and the sky? Courage, determination and pride are good to have, but it takes training and military hardware to fight for your country.
So it does not make sense therefore that in crying for justice we take away the umbrella that helps us get shield from evil internal and external threats against the security, stability and sovereignty of the country.
Not only that but even during calamities – like the onslaught of Yolanda. Without asking, America was the first to come to our aid and even now they haven’t stopped helping us.
The current Ebola pandemic is something to worry about and where do you think shall we be turning around for help if, God forbids, it gets to some of our oversea workers and start contaminating people here?
These are just some points to ponder before one starts acting irrationally in condemning a nation that has also done some good to us.