[I apologize to those offended by my publication of Jennifer’s last image. This article is not a justification but intended only to explain why the family and the legal team made it public. Picture bore the caption : “Is this homicide?”, which is the defense of Pemberton. Mea culpa and lesson learned.]
I published in my blog the latest picture of Jennifer Laude when she was found dead in the toilet of the Calzone Lodge. It was grotesque, gruesome and macabre. The picture shows that Jennifer died a painful and cruel death. Her face was bloated, indicating she must have been struck repeatedly in the face, her tongue protruding, suggesting she must have struggled to breathe, and while lifeless, it was obvious that she was screaming from pain nonetheless.
After six hours, I removed it from my blog realizing that I would have to devise a way first to warn the reader that it could be one of the most horrifying images ever photographed. I promise to approach techies on how to put this warning. I will republish it as soon as I know how.
The picture, though, had to be published. Why?
Primarily because judging from the pronouncements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its supporters, the public obviously does not know just how gruesome her murder was. Yes, it has been reported that she was drowned in a toilet bowl. But the public does not know that prior to drowning, she was also strangled and beaten. The problem was while the public saw how Marc Sueselbeck pushed the Filipino soldier in his desire to see the man who killed his loved one, the people have only seen the picture of Jennifer when she was alive and pretty. They probably assumed that the emotions of both Marc and Marylou, Jennifer’s sister, when they climbed the fence of Aguinaldo to see Pemberton- were simple theatrics. The AFP even says I instigated it.
They are wrong, of course. The anger is not only because Pemberton is suspected to have killed Jennifer. It is also because of the absolutely barbaric and savage manner by which Pemberton may have killed her. That’s why the family wants to make sure that Pemberton is where he is supposed to be. Otherwise, he might be accorded impunity for this bestial killing simply because Philippine authorities do not have him in its custody.
The intention then of posting the picture, with the consent of the Laude family of course, is to explain the Laude family’s anger and their desire to see Pemberton in the flesh.
In any case, make no mistake about it: victims have the right to confront those who violated their rights. This forms part of the right to satisfaction and restorative justice. Here, the confrontation should lead to reparation, specifically, the restoration of the victim’s state of mind prior to the violation of their rights. This is because when allowed to confront the perpetrators of crimes, the victims can ask basic questions such as why their loved ones had to be the victims, what acts, in any, their loved ones committed to deserve their plight. Hopefully, it might even lead to the perpetrator seeking a apology which to many victims, might amount to full satisfaction.
In any case, the government’s response to the acts of Malou and Marc again indicates its ignorance of the basic rights of victims. Under human rights law, the victim’s right to reparation entitles them to trauma and psychosocial assistance to restore their emotional and mental well-being prior to the breach of their rights. Instead, Marc was branded as an undesirable alien and Malou was threatened with prosecution.
I hope the picture of Jennifer immediately after her murder will settle this issue once and for all.
In any case, its worth highlighting yet another injustice in the way the PNoy administration has been dealing with the two men in Jennifer’s life: her lover and her murderer. For while the government has done the ludicrous—preventing Marc from leaving the country as originally scheduled so he can be forced to leave through deportation—the government appears helpless in dealing with the suspected killer, Pemberton. Government has, in the process of deporting Marc, confiscated his passport. Pemberton, who perpetrated a gruesome murder, has not been asked to deposit his passport. The government seems hell bent in humiliating Marc into admitting that he is an undesirable alien. In contrast, it has not said anything to Pemberton, as if shoving a soldier in the heat of anger is more criminal than killing a person with absolutely no mercy, No wonder Jennifer’s mother already slammed PNoy in a forum at the UP Law Center last Tuesday. According to her, the President appears not to have given any attention to the gruesome murder of Jennifer simply because they are poor.
Mrs. Laude appears to be right. As correctly observed by Ellen Tordesillas, the reason why PNoy did not even condole with the family is that they are neither members of the LP, Kabarilan or Kaklase of the President. They also obviously do not belong to the same cacique class that produced P Noy.
But never mind. Even if PNoy did not bother to condole with the Laudes, thousands, if not millions of other Filipinos did. For Jennifer- to many of us- has become a symbol of a nation struggling for respect and equality from a former colonial master. Jennifer, hindi ka nag-iisa!