Reacting to those who criticize, and even blame Jennifer Laude for her own death, Marc Sueselbeck said these people “just see a few facts,” such as her gender and the fact that she lived in Olongapo City.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
OLONGAPO CITY — It was on Nov. 30, 2012 when Marc Sueselbeck first talked to Jennifer Laude over the phone. Only half an hour later did he learn that Laude was a transgender woman. But by then, he said, it did not matter anymore.
“I just felt like talking to an interesting person, a very unique person in my eyes,” Sueselbeck told Bulatlat.com.
Days later, the German national decided to book a ticket to Manila. He arrived in Manila on Dec. 17, 2012 and, to make the story complete, they were engaged six days later.
Their relationship, however, took an unexpected and bitter twist of fate when Laude, on Oct. 11, 2014, was found dead in a hotel room in Olongapo City, Zambales. She was last seen with US Marine Pvt. 1st Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, according to witnesses.
Pemberton came on board USS Peleliu, and was here in the country as participant in the joint US-PH military exercises under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Pemberton did not show up at the Oct. 21 preliminary investigation on Laude’s murder conducted by Olongapo city prosecutors. A day later, he was transferred from the warship to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City due to mounting pressure on both governments to hand him over to local custody.
The 19-year-old US Marine, however, is still under US custody as he is detained in the fenced compound of the Joint US Military Assistance Group.
Sueselbeck said he could not understand why both US officials here in Manila and the Philippine government could not find time to personally pay respect to Laude and offer condolences to the family.
It is, he added, as if nothing has happened.
“This is the typical American way of handling it. They just hide away and put themselves superior to everyone. ‘We (the Americans) do our thing and what other people say is nothing of their concern,’” he said.
Citing the wiretapping scandal by the National Security Agency, Sueselbeck said the US government spied on everyone through their phone calls in the name of war on terror. For the US, he added, “everyone around the world is a potential threat.”
Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who is also a US ally, was also spied on. He said Germany was also insulted in the scandal, saying that it is “not the way to deal with an ally. This is not the way to deal with a friend,” he added.
“They claim to be ally. They claim to be friends. But they treat you like vassals, like colonists,” Sueselbeck said.
President Aquino, when asked at the Oct. 22 Presidential Forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) if he will attend Laude’s wake, said that he will not because he did not “want to be a burden.”
“You know, in general, I don’t attend wakes of people I don’t know. I find it – and I’m speaking for myself — I’m uncomfortable in trying to condole with people who don’t know me,“ Aquino said.
Don’t judge her
Reacting to those who criticize, and even blame Laude for her own death, Sueselbeck said these people “just see a few facts,” such as her gender and the fact that she lived in Olongapo City.
“They know nothing,” he said.
Her intention for going with Pemberton, he added, “were simply not what other people are suspecting.” And even if it was true, “that would be between me and her and not to be discussed in public because what happens in a relationship is a matter between two people, possibly between their families, but not the public.”
Laude, for Sueselbeck, was loyal, honest and sincere.
“When she was sad, she was not just sad but would put up a drama. Same thing when she was happy. You could not stop her,” he recalled, “She was full of energy.”
Sueselbeck said they would be facing the “last remaining superpower,” referring to the US government. He then urged the Philippines “to stand up for their own rights and for their own national integrity.”