There has been a significant slowdown in the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently, no new procurement, upgrade, etc. has been made in the last couple of months. This may have something to do with the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling against the Development Assistance Program (DAP)  which made it harder for them to allocate funds around, or it maybe something else, or a combination of factors. At any rate, this will likely continue for a couple more months until they find a way to sort things out.
In the meantime, I decided to take a break from my Sea Denial ramblings and write something political and current, like the case of The Killing of Jennifer Laude which caused some negative publicity on the basing of US forces in the Philippines. If you are not familiar with the case, what happened was that a Transgender Woman was found dead in a hotel room and the primary suspect in the killing is an American Marine named John Scott Pemberton. 
Call it “destiny”, call it “bad luck”, call it “fate”, call it whatever, but the incident highlighted the dark side of having American servicemen on foreign soil at a critical time, before any new agreement could be finalized. That dark side are US servicemen committing crimes against the local people, and this issue was almost forgotten until the Laude murder happened. It reminded people again that US protection is not all roses, there are many such thorns that happened before, which was probably why Filipinos then were a bit ambivalent about seeing the American bases go away.
One big issue that has come out of this case is the fact that the victim was a Homosexual, a Transgender whose original name is “Jeffrey Laude”, and a lot of people have come out in the internet tending to side with the killer just because of their hatred of Homosexuals. Let me just state that I AM NOT A RELIGIOUS PERSON, I consider myself an Agnostic and someday I might blog more about this in detail, but in the meantime what this means that I have NO RELIGIOUS HANGUPS about Homosexuality.
I am PROUD to say that I am not religious because it means that I do NOT profess to “know” what a God supposedly “wants” or “not want” here on Earth and just focuses more on treating my fellowmen with Justice and Fairness that they deserve, whatever they may be. For more on my views about Religion and Sexuality, you can access my other blogs about it:  These are just my opinions, of course, feel free to disagree with them if you want to.
Now as far as Laude is concerned, I don’t care what she did, whether she might have fooled Pemberton into thinking she’s a woman, or that she might have stolen money or valuables from him as some have speculated; Or that she cheated her German fiance by having sex with another man. In my book, whatever she did, she did NOT DESERVE to be killed for it. The proper thing for Pemberton to do if he was upset about whatever happened was to report her crimes (if any) to the authorities, or if he didn’t want the publicity then find a way to report it but still keep things away from the public eye. But kill another person for it? No way.
’Looking at Things Objectively’
Now, Pemberton is NOT the first US Serviceman to have killed or committed a serious crime against a Filipino, AND HE WILL NOT BE THE LAST US SERVICEMAN TO KILL OR COMMIT A SERIOUS CRIME AGAINST FILIPINOS. In fact, as long as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and (eventually) the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) are in place, MORE US Servicemen WILL COMMIT serious Crimes against Filipinos in the coming years and decades.
So, should the VFA and/or EDCA be scrapped just because of this, then? My answer is … OF COURSE NOT. The reason for this is simple: Whether you like it or not, Crime is a part of Human Nature, it is part of the Human Experience. People commit acts of crime on people of other nationalities ALL THE TIME, that is FACT.
And American Servicemen DO NOT HAVE A MONOPOLY ON COMMITTING SERIOUS CRIMES, in fact, Filipinos have committed serious crimes against American citizens in the Philippines CONSISTENTLY, year in and year out. As proof of this, just consider that in just a period of 4 years, from 2008 to 2011, at least 9 American citizens have been killed in the Philippines.  That is an average of at least 2 Americans killed per year in our country between those years.
’More Murdered Americans’
I challenge anyone here to search Google, try using words like, “American Dead Philippines” and see how many relevant hits you will get. Here’s what I got:
* American found dead in Davao City (2012), http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/01/04/12/american-found-dead-davao-city
* American shot dead in Danao City (2012), http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2012/10/06/american-shot-dead-danao-city-246643
* American killed in Makati City stabbing incident (2012), http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/283683/news/metromanila/american-killed-in-makati-city-stabbing-incident
* American shot dead in Paranaque (2013), http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/04/16/13/american-shot-dead-paranaque
Let’s take a close look at one of cases above, the stabbing of a former US Marine George Anikow by some rich kids in Makati. It just so happened that a Close Circuit Television (CCTV) camera was able to record the incident, so let’s look at what those fu#@ing rich mo#@n sh#@s did:
So what happened to the case two years on? Well, first a Judge grants bail for ALL 4 of the killers, and then the US Consul General finally complained about the “slow progress” of the case.  As a Filipino, I am ASHAMED to say that due to the WEALTH of the Filipino murderers involved and their CONNECTIONS, this case will eventually go where cases involving the rich and connected usually go here in the Philippines, and that is … to nothingness. THAT is the reality of living in a third world country like ours.
In total, at least 13 Americans were murdered on Philippine soil in just a period of 6 years, or the same 2 murders per year average. Now, if alliances were based on how many murders are committed against other nationalities, in truth the Americans have MORE reason not to ally themselves against us than we against them since a lot more of their citizens have been murdered by Filipinos here in the Philippines. But that should not be the case, as I said like it or not crime is a part of the human nature or human experience. It shouldn’t be accepted of course, but we need to work AROUND or DESPITE such incidences and focus more on the POSITIVE aspects of our alliance.
After using arguments that contain a lot of negativity, let me focus on the POSITIVE side of our alliance with America. After the utter devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in Leyte last year, the Americans were among the FIRST and provided the MOST assistance by any country to us when they sent over a large contingent of their military forces. At its height, the US deployed 66 Aircraft, 12 Naval Vessels and over 1,000 Military Personnel to aid the stricken. Remember that operating these military equipment require a LOT of money, during the entire operation they easily racked up bills in terms of Food, Fuel, Manpower, etc. running in the tens of millions of dollars.
The American’s assistance COMPENSATED for our government’s lack of resources and money, and were it not for their help, a lot more people could have died in the aftermath and that the situation for the survivors would have been a LOT more desperate.  On top of all that help, the US also provided over USD 55 million in money thru various US Agencies and Institutions to help with the rehabilitation of the affected areas. 
Aside from Humanitarian and Disaster Response (HADR) Assistance, American forces also provide a lot of CIVIC Assistance whenever they are here. During the two latest major Military Exercises with the Americans this year, for example, in “Balikatan 2014” and “PHIBLEX 15”, they also helped repair classrooms, construct new school buildings, build new roads, etc.  in the localities where the exercises were conducted.
So American forces DO a lot of GOOD whenever they are here, they provide a lot of assistance. It is not just about some nut out of a couple of thousands of servicemen killing off Filipinos, just as it is not about some Filipino sh#@s out of a hundred million killing off Americans on Philippine soil consistently.
The only thing I don’t like about the US’ policy when it comes to US Servicemen committing crimes on foreign soil are their insistence on maintaining custody of these criminals instead of turning them over to the local authorities. I don’t know why this is so, maybe the US wants to keep their soldiers from being manipulated and put into compromising situations; Or maybe they are afraid that the criminals and their families will say that the US is abandoning them and possibly make them vulnerable to lawsuits; Or they are afraid that the rights of these criminals will be violated (they do still have rights even if they are criminals).
Whatever the reasons are, their insistence on keeping custody is NOT GOOD as it gives the impression among the locals that the US is CODDLING its criminal servicemen. And these criminals themselves tend to have some measure of security in the thought that whatever they do to the locals, their Uncle Sam will always be there to provide “rescue” of some sort, to protect them from the WORST, which in a way could be an “incentive” in their sick minds for them to commit criminal acts against foreigners.
I think that this custody policy is WRONG. If an American Serviceman commits a Criminal act on foreign soil and the EVIDENCE is reasonably STRONG, then turn them over to the local authorities. If the US government still wants to help these criminals, then they could just get them expensive and competent local Lawyers.
’Exploitation for Propaganda’
The biggest problem I see now is how the Communists and/or Leftists will KEEP EXPLOITING these incidents to generate a lot of negativity about the American forces. Every time an American Soldier commits a crime against Filipinos, they will be there to milk each and every incident to the bone for Propaganda purposes. Already with the Laude Case we are seeing this happen, from the leftist Lawyer threatening to sue the Philippine government for negligence, to the victim’s kin and fiancé trying to storm the area where Pemberton was kept.
All these are designed to keep the incident in the news and focus negativities against the Americans like a laser. As long as these crimes by US Servicemen keep happening, the Left will be there to exploit them. The only way to fight this is by using words against words, destroy their Propaganda by being Objective and using Reason and Logic. In short, by being SMART and having smart arguments against them. Everybody who are for the Americans will have to argue things out, whether thru Social Media or personal interactions so our countrymen who are less aware about these things will at least be sufficiently informed.
Whatever she did and whatever she is, Laude did not deserve to be killed by anybody. She won’t be the last Filipino killed by US Servicemen, but I guarantee a lot more Americans will also die on Philippine soil in the coming years. That is fact, that is simply a statistical probability based on interactions between the two countries. Whatever “bad” is caused by having American forces on Philippine soil is greatly outweighed by the benefits:
– We get protection from China (at least for mainland Philippines);
– They can greatly aid us in terms of Humanitarian and Civic Projects;
– The economies and infrastructure of local areas where the forces are based will be boosted by Trade and Civic Assistance programs.
I do agree that the US should stop coddling its criminals, but that we should be vigilant also by how the Communist/Leftist forces will insist on using these incidents to further their Propaganda and Agenda. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “The Price of Democracy is Eternal Vigilance”, we need to be vigilant against those who seek to manipulate Freedom of Speech for their vile reasons. As citizens, we need to learn to use Logic and Reason to know what truly is closer to the truth …
^ Understanding the SC Ruling on the DAP, http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/63267-understanding-supreme-court-ruling-dap
^ Who is U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, https://anc.yahoo.com/news/who-is-u-s–marine-joseph-scott-pemberton-172738027.html
^ Homosexuality and the Bible, http://rhk111sblogspot.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/homosexuality-and-the-bible/
^ Homosexuality: Separating the Sinner from the Sin?, http://rhk111sblogspot.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/homosexuality-separating-the-sinner-from-the-sin/
^ Bail for Makati murder suspects granted, http://www.rappler.com/nation/22365-judge-grants-bail-to-makati-murder-suspects
^ US consul general: Anikow trial ‘appears very slow’, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/61309/us-consul-general-anikow-trial-appears-very-slow/
^ US military ‘godsend’ to ‘Yolanda’ victims, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/91407/us-military-godsend-to-yolanda-victims/
^ PHILIPPINES – TYPHOON YOLANDA/HAIYAN, http://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1866/11.25.13_USAID-DCHATyphoonYolandaHaiyan_FactSheet12.pdf
^ US forces begin civic action in Legazpi City, http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/04/22/us-forces-begin-civic-action-in-legazpi-city/
^ PHIBLEX 15: Ground Breaking Ceremony, http://www.dvidshub.net/video/361937/phiblex-15-ground-breaking-ceremony#.VEj3tPmUdS0
^ Laude lawyer threatens to sue gov’t officials for dereliction of duty, http://www.rappler.com/nation/72677-roque-threaten-govt-dereliction-duty-pemberton-custody
^ WATCH: Jennifer Laude’s fiance, sister climb military gate, http://www.rappler.com/nation/72780-jennifer-laude-fiance-sister-climb-protest