-- Protest streamers are displayed during the march to the Heritage Garden in Olongapo City. (MNS photo)

— Protest streamers are displayed during the march to the Heritage Garden in Olongapo City. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court has denied a bid from the family of slain transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude to intervene in the pending cases against the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US.

“We deny the Motion to Admit the Attached Petition-In-Intervention for lack of merit and strike out the Petition-In-Intervention and all its annexes from the record,” said the high court in an en banc ruling on Tuesday.

The SC said the Laude family’s intervention plea discusses in detail a matter that is pending before a prosecutor’s office and is “inherently a criminal proceeding and is not related to the constitutionality of the EDCA.”

The petition tackles issues that are evidentiary and factual in nature, and ruling on it might pre-empt the ongoing preliminary investigation, the SC said.

“Discussing the sensitive nature (i.e., arguments and evidence) of a pending criminal investigation is misplaced in the oral arguments concerning the constitutionality of the EDCA and must thus be disallowed during the oral arguments, so as not to pre-judge and affect the pending criminal proceedings in the Laude case,” said the SC Public Information in a summary sent to media.

The SC also ordered that the petiton and its annexes be stricken out from the records. “They pertain to sensitive evidence, which as of now is apparently unrelated to the questions concerning the constitutionality of EDCA,” said the SC.

The SC en banc is set to begin conducting oral arguments on the EDCA cases later in the day.

Arguments vs. EDCA

In their “petition in intervention,” Laude’s mother Julita and sisters Michelle and Marilou claimed they stand to sustain “personal, material and substantial damage” from the bilateral agreement signed in April this year.

They said that under the EDCA, suspect US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton can be detained inside an “agreed location” and outside the custody and even jurisdiction of the Philippines.

Pemberton is facing a murder complaint in connection with the killing of Laude on Oct. 11 in Olangapo City. He is presently detained inside Camp Aguinaldo. The US Embassy, however, has maintained that the US Marine remains in US custody.

The petitioners said the EDCA violates Section 25, Article XVIII of the Philippine Constitution which prohibits foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the Philippines, unless allowed by a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate.

The agreement also allegedly violates Section 7, Article II of the Constitution which states that with respect to other states, the paramount consideration of the Philippines shall be national sovereignty and national interest.

The Laudes said the EDCA violates the Constitution as it allows foreign troops in the Philippines not only in the context of a military exercise but as foreign troops stationed in the country.

There is also a “clear absence” of any provision in the EDCA concerning the exercise of jurisdiction by the Philippines, they claimed. (MNS)