Tag: Philippines

NCIS: Olongapo City

 photo Jennifer_Laude_t250_zpsb56ca96d.jpgClosed Circuit TV cameras show  PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, and three other  Marines  were drunk when they entered a Ambyanz Disco in Olongapo City around 11pm  on Saturday, October 11.  They show Pemberton leaving the bar a few minutes later with Jennifer Laude and three friends.  Pemberton is seen holding hands with Jennifer’s friend Barbie as they left Ambyanz for Celzone Lodge.

At around 11:35 Pemberton’s buddies were seen returning to the bar, looking for him.  They asked the bar employees if they might know where he was.  They had midnight curfew and had to get back to the ship.

One witness identified Pemberton from a photo line-up by Philippine National Police.  That witness also identified the 26-year-old Barbie as a witness of interest.  Both witnesses have asked for government protection.  Barbie also identified Pemberton.

Barbie has told investigators that she was sent away by Jennifer, who sensed there might be danger because they were transgender, so she and another friend went to another room in the lodge.  Barbie said that a room attendant (Elias Gallamos) knocked on their door around 11:45 to tell them that Pemberton had left, leaving the door ajar and Jennifer “passed out” in the bathroom of her room.

Jennifer was, in fact, dead.  She had been strangled and drowned in the toilet.  Autopsy listed the cause of death as asphyxiation by drowning.

Torture and “Inevitable Demoralization,” from 1902 to the Present

Paul Kramer at The New Yorker has written a fascinating look at the use of torture by U.S. troops in the Philippine-American War, 1899-1902. Back then, the U.S. was accused of using the infamous “water cure” upon Philippine “insurgents.” A then-atypical confession by pro-war Judge Wiliam Howard Taft, head of the pro-U.S. Philippine Commission, described the technique:

The cruelties that have been inflicted; that people have been shot when they ought not to have been; that there have been in individual instances of water cure, that torture which I believe involves pouring water down the throat so that the man swells and gets the impression that he is going to be suffocated and then tells what he knows, which was a frequent treatment under the Spaniards, I am told-all these things are true.

Kramer’s article describes the political maneuvering around the torture scandal of that time, in ways that are eerily similar to today’s debates. What’s different, of course, is that other, more psychological forms of torture have been added since those early days of American imperialist wars. (Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers died in the conflict, and total Philippine deaths, both military and civilian, are estimated to be between a quarter of a million to one million people. It’s worth noting that U.S. military activities against Philippine “insurgents” or “brigands” continued until at least 1913.)

“You cannot work after you turn 65”

As many of you know, I am currently on vacation in the Philippines — a working vacation of sorts, if you count life work, in that I have met for the first time my five stepchildren, two stepgrandchildren, father-in-law, the sole remaining sib of my wife’s whom I had not met in the States, and about 150 other relations whom my wife has absolved me of the need to keep straight.  (I’ll meet them when they visit — which I’m told they all will, if they can help it.)

I also met my wife’s friend, principal of the school that my stepkids attend, which is evidently (having been chosen because of how much my wife values education) among the best in Pampanga.  (That is the province containing Clark Air Base, which — until Mt. Pinatubo erupted after having waited until the Cold War was safely over — was along with Subic Bay the major U.S. base in the region.)  The friend is turning 60, so competent that the school’s owner has begged her to stay, but is going to emigrate to the U.S. instead.  After all, she said, you’re supposed to retire at 60.

Oh really, I said, and after some stupid blundering on my part it came out that you were supposed to retire by 60 but had to retire after 65.  “Had to” as in “cannot legally work.”  Cannot take jobs away from the younger people who need them.  I had lawyer’s questions about how truly true this was — what if you are self-employed, I don’t think I thought to ask, but there were others, and from both her and my wife the answer was firm.  Cannot work.  You lived on savings, on the support of your family, on the kindness of charity — or not at all.