The Philippine Department of Justice
The Armed Forces of the Philippines
The Bureau of Immigration & Deportation
The Embassy of Germany in the Philippines
Dear Sir and Madam:
I extend my sincere apology for the incident that happened at Camp Aguinaldo on 22 October 2014. I regret that my action appeared as if I was disrespecting Philippine authorities, especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines. That was not my intention.
Please permit me to explain the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the event.
Earlier in the morning of that day, I attended the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs that is looking into the brutal killing of my fiancé, Jennifer Laude, by primary suspect US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Foreign Affairs officials reported to the committee that the suspect is in “shared custody” with the American government but I, as well as the family members of Jennifer, as well as my lawyers, found it curious that not one among the officials could confirm, based on eyewitness knowledge, that the suspect is indeed in custody at Camp Aguinaldo.
We have lost a loved one and we felt, to that moment, that we have not received any answer to all the questions that we have consistently raised in all the fora that we could reach. We went to Camp Aguinaldo, just to ask questions. Not one Philippine soldier could confirm to us that they have seen Pemberton. The circumstances changed when Marilou Laude, Jennifer’s sister, climbed over the fence that surrounds the area where the suspect was allegedly being held. While Philippine soldiers tried to stop her from getting nearer the detention area, American personnel laughed at her efforts.
I have been taught one thing in life very early: never let a friend or family hang alone in a bad situation. Better take the hit as two persons together, rather than leave her alone, especially if the person is a woman. I already travelled 10,000 km to stand with the family through the grief, how then could I let Marilou take the insults and the risk alone? Seeing her standing there in the compound, being pushed backwards while on the other side of another fence American soldiers were laughing made me feel so insulted. This is why in a split-second, I myself crossed over the fence. In hindsight, I admit it was a mistake and I hope you understand that what inspired it was the frustration, extremely extraordinary mental pressure we all were in at that point and fear for Marilou’s sake, aggravated by the insulting manner extended us by the Americans.
I understand I was perceived by Philippine military officials as having pushed a soldier in a violent manner. It certainly was not an assault. I could not immediately stop my forward movement but video footage from any of the media covering that event can prove that I never aggressively attacked any soldier. I merely wanted to reach Marilou, make sure she was safe, and join her in asking questions. I believe that if I were truly aggressive and posed a true threat, the soldiers would not have hesitated to forcefully stop me. I heard the soldiers say that we “could get arrested for being on that ground.” I was able to reach Marilou and we left the area together.
I wish to stress that before we left, I personally apologized to all the members of the military present, including the camp commander and the soldier I inadvertently pushed. They, as well as video footage from the media could prove I apologized even then. The Philippine soldiers were all very professional and quite efficient at de-escalating the situation. I respect them for this.
I want to reiterate that subsequent events following the Senate public hearing prove that our concerns were not wrong. There was NO joint custody of the suspect; no Philippine official had even seen Pemberton at that time.
I was very distraught to know that the NCIS wanted an autopsy just a few hours before the funeral, such that Jennifer couldn’t be cremated as planned. This came nearly a week after the first autopsy was made. The suspect was never seen by Philippine investigators and they have not directly taken his DNA sample; no one has determined if he had scratch marks, fight injuries, and DNA traces of the victim on his clothes and body. I have concerns if the trial will truly give justice to Jennifer.
With this statement, I hope we could shift the discussion away from efforts to focus on my and Marilou’s alleged lack of respect to Philippine authorities. The issue is the brutal, senseless and most degrading murder of Jennifer Laude.
If you must accuse us of lack of respect, consider that no American official came to personally or officially condole with us; no flowers, no letters of sympathy. Who is not respecting whom?
One last word: I want to say clearly: it was never my intention to insult, offend, assault or misbehave towards Philippine authorities or citizens. How insane would that be, regarding we are on the same side?
I have an appeal to Philippine authorities. I lost my future wife Jennifer in the worst imaginable way. I hope you will allow me to grieve, return and visit her grave in the future. I am not a threat to your country or your citizens. I have no negative records in Germany or elsewhere.
Ich liebe dich, Jennifer, and I hope we will see each other again, asawa ko.