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'Transgender's killing proof EDCA not good for Philippines'

MANILA, Philippines - The killing of a Filipino transgender allegedly by a US marine in Olongapo City is proof that the presence of American troops in the Philippines will never work for national interest, an international law expert said Tuesday.

"We should already learn from history, foreign military presence and national interest do not mix well,” lawyer Harry Roque said.

Roque, chairperson of Center for International Law, a think-tank dedicated to the promotion of international legal norms in Philippines and Asia, is one of the petitioners questioning the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States.

Roque said the agreement, which expands the presence of US military forces in various parts of the country, violates the constitutional bar to the establishment of US military bases in the country.

Jeffery Laude, also known as “Jennifer,” a 26-year-old transgender, was found dead in the toilet of a room at Celzone Lodge late Saturday in Olongapo City.

Police said the victim was apparently strangled to death after checking into a room at the lodge near the former US military base at Subic Bay with a “male, white foreigner”, later identified as a US marine personnel.

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Roque said Laude’s case recalls yet again the iniquitous provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on detention facilities for US servicemen found guilty of violating Philippine laws.

The EDCA is being pushed by the Philippine government as a necessary supplement to the VFA to enable the country to better address Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

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