American military culture, or why Pemberton is in US custody

filipino special forces in low-level air drop training exercise

Filipino special forces in low-level air drop training exercise

The following blog is my personal view, not the official position of the United States. JoeAm

* * * * *

This blog will turn the tables. Normally it is I, the American, who is trying to grasp Filipino customs that I don’t understand, like fighting chickens and a major religion that does not study the Bible. For this blog, I will test Filipino ability to comprehend American cultural practices.

Now I might protest Filipino cultural practices, for chickens pecking one another to death seems cruel and a religion that does not study it’s own book seems half-baked, but all the protest in the world won’t change these deeply ingrained norms. Similarly, you might protest what I explain – “but Joe, that should not be . . .” – and I will say, sorry, it is the way it IS and how you think it should be will not change that.

But at least you will have a big head start on most Filipinos who have no idea about it.

I specifically am going to talk about the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and why Corporal Pemberton is in American custody. He is accused of murder.

The reason is cultural and has nothing to do with Philippine sovereignty, except in the minds of those who can’t make the cultural leap to understand American military culture. Or those with an agenda to undermine the partnership between the Philippines and America.

Let’s start with some background information.

What the VFA does

In the interest of efficiency, let me just cut and paste a remark I made recently in a blog thread. It gets to the point concisely.

The VFA is a dry document that sets out the rules that permit the US to send troops to the Philippines on short order. The military ID of an American armed forces member serves as his passport and entry approval. It was designed to facilitate training where hundreds of American troops might arrive on Philippine soil for a few days, and then leave. Or in case of conflict, arrive to fight when needed, without hassle. There is no Immigration processing. It also deals with how to handle errant soldiers, who, believe it or not, are exceptions, not the rule. There are two VFA documents, actually. The other one defines the same rules for Filipino military entering the US (usually for training). Americans accused of crimes in the Philippines are held in custody by the US during trial. Filipinos accused of crimes in the US are held in custody by the US during trial. That is the famous “humiliating” imbalance cited by Senator Santiago.

If we look at the broad practical implication of the two VFA’s, an American might see the imbalance differently. Americans agree to fight on Philippine soil while Filipinos agree to train on American soil.

So who gets the better deal from the various imbalances?

I think that sets the scene fair enough.

The imprisonment clause, Americans in the Philippines

Now let’s look at what the VFA document for Americans in the Philippines says in the section that is missing from the partner document. This will get you deeper into the document than the Philippine press or even its lawmakers get when discussing the matter. So already you are in an elite class of comprehending Filipinos.

It bears noting how loudly some of the ignorant raise their voices.

Article V: Criminal Jurisdiction

6. The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings. United States military authorities shall, upon formal notification by the Philippine authorities and without delay, make such personnel available to those authorities in time for any investigative or judicial proceedings relating to the offense with which the person has been charged. In extraordinary cases, the Philippine Government shall present its position to the United States Government regarding custody, which the United States Government shall take into full account. In the event Philippine judicial proceedings are not completed within one year, the United States shall be relieved of any obligations under this paragraph. The one year period will not include the time necessary to appeal. Also, the one year period will not include any time during which scheduled trial procedures are delayed because United States authorities, after timely notification by Philippine authorities to arrange for the presence of the accused, fail to do so.

Further reading of the document is a good idea, for it outlines all the obligations of the US to assist the Philippines. The US has fulfilled the terms of the agreement to the letter in dealing with the accused, Pemberton. The document can be found in the Chan Robles Virtual Law Library.

Now let’s skip back up to a section that precedes the custody clause. It gives a clear indication of the REASONS for the custody arrangement. It is in Section 3:

(d) Recognizing the responsibility of the United States military authorities to maintain good order and discipline among their forces, Philippine authorities will, upon request by the United States, waive their primary right to exercise jurisdiction except in cases of particular importance to the Philippines. If the Government of the Philippines determines that the case is of particular importance, it shall communicate such determination to the United States authorities within twenty (20) days after the Philippine authorities receive the United States request.

There you go, the cultural clue:

Recognizing the responsibility of the United States military authorities to maintain good order and discipline among their forces . . .

American cultural rules

These are the two cultural norms that guide the American position on the VFA:

  1. Innocent until proven guilty.
  2. Leave no man behind.

Unfriendly forces

The first is both civilian and military. It is the fundamental presumption granted every accused person prior to conviction. Every (educated adult) American, every lawyer, every justice official, understands the principle.

Judging from the acts of protesters in the Philippines, commentary in social media, rabid news reporting, and the behavior of Attorney Harry Roque, who represents the murdered victim’s family, this principle is not ingrained in the Philippines as a shining truth of the fairness of the judicial system. Pemberton is declared guilty in the Philippines. You can see it on posters, in the press, on social media, to the left, to the right . . . well, mostly to the left . . . and just about everywhere.

That brings us to the second cultural rule. It is military.

America fields strong fighting forces in the field because of discipline, unity (loyalty to one another), skill and equipment. The need for discipline and unity is written into the VFA. First of all, American military authorities WILL NOT allow an innocent man to to be left behind to be humiliated and accosted by unfriendly forces. Unfriendly forces include raging protest mobs or attorneys who do not respect the notion of due process. It will not let other troops see their leaders abandon an (innocent) American military man, or woman, in the heat of battle. To leave him behind.

Second, if the man is found guilty of a military rule violation, the US WILL discipline him separate from what the Philippines may do. This is also spelled out in the VFA:

8. (part) . . . Nothing in this paragraph, however, shall prevent United States military authorities from trying United States personnel for any violation of rules of discipline arising from the act or omission which constituted an offense for which they were tried by Philippine authorities.

So the military will protect its own while innocent, and punish its own if guilty.

Unity (loyalty to one another)


Those are the reasons why Pemberton is in US custody.

It basically has nothing to do with Philippine sovereignty, but with US military imperatives.

It is why the US could choose to walk from the Mutual Defense Agreement and EDCA rather than amend the VFA imprisonment clause in such a way as to violate American fighting norms.

Now, this is where most Filipinos will have trouble because, from their perspective, the US is being disrespectful of the Philippines. So to grasp this culture gap, you have to extend yourself to be in charge of several thousand US fighting men and women. What message do you want to send to these people, your men and women, who are joined to one another in a bond of life and death? One man is accused of a crime but is not proven guilty. Is he a “throwaway” man you will walk away from? Will that motivate your people? Will it allow them to trust you, as their leader?

What happens to your fighting discipline and unity when those whose lives are on the line start to think that their leaders don’t back them? When doubt undermines discipline and unity?

If you can’t make that leap to be in charge of Americans, imagine yourself in charge of a new Filipino Navy ship on its maiden goodwill tour to the Middle East. You are docked off the coast of Saudi Arabia. One of your sailors is back on board after a brief shore leave when the Saudi police approach the ship with a warrant for his arest. Do you turn your sailor over to the Saudi police? How would a turnover of the sailor be viewed among the Navy personnel you command?

It may be wise for Filipino lawmakers and leaders to educate themselves about these norms. Think about how constructive the partnership with America would become if they stopped demanding a review of the VFA, thereby putting a burr under American military saddles, and instead started defending the values of military discipline and unity, whether the forces to which they apply are American or Filipino. That is, what if Philippine leaders actually demonstrated they understood what it takes to field winning battlefield forces?

The smartest way to deal with the perceived imbalance is amend the VFA for Filipino military people in America to INCLUDE the custody clause. Not strike it from the American VFA and force American military leaders into a box that violates the very essence of the nation’s fighting strength. The Philippines would be well-served by making that same passionate commitment to discipline and unity expressed in the value “leave no man behind”.

And to make “innocent until proven guilty” a cherished norm.

Defense Secretary Gazmin has been silent during the whole Laude episode. He is the Philippine leader who should be explaining what the Philippines GETS from the VFA, and explaining why America seeks to maintain unity (loyalty) and discipline among its fighting forces. I presume he understands the concepts.

For sure, it would be wise for Philippine leaders to educate Filipinos about ALL the imbalances in the two agreements, the REASONS for the custody clause, and to strive to develop a level of trust in America that is appropriate for two nations with the same goal in mind:

A free, safe, independent Philippines.

124 Responses to “American military culture, or why Pemberton is in US custody”
  1. sonny says:

    What (some, anyway) I get about the US Military:

    A. Using an a priori, simple analogy to understand American culture about her military is the relationship between man and attack dog. I am not a dog person but I see people who are: pet owners, trainors, animal lovers, etc. I see what and how the transfer of owner values, love, attachment, manner of care, devotion, etc; and the consequent why-behavior of pet and owner.

    B. Another example is understanding the American attitude towards sports building and competition. The process of focus on the winning combination: coaches, players and talent, motivation and incentives.

    C. The specific American dynamic of building/growing institutions and traditions. All societies have their own dynamic of how they address natural needs of food, clothing, shelter and security. I mention this explicitly because these needs are always tied to the military corporation.

    These are some broad strokes and lenses I would use, for also formulating the Philippine position on its military treaties. These are what the US brings to the table, IMO.

    • sonny says:

      Random thoughts:

      I do not get why the passion for cockfighting. I don’t get why pet cemeteries.

      I understand both Filipino literacy and illiteracy toward the Bible. The question of orthodoxy is vital to the Bible and to Catholic Christianity. Orthodoxy demands one teaching authority for doctrine and praxis. Compliance or not is a separate issue, understood best in the context of pastoral and community guidance.

      I try to understand how and why Tailhook happens. I cannot abide by the results of female abuse in the US military and the delay in administering justice and corrective actions. These fly in the face of Unity in the military. This in turn points to the integrity of military standards juxtaposed within or without national affairs.

      • Joe America says:

        Tailhook and female abuse. It is a cousin of rape and murder in R&R communities like Subic, Olongapo and Angeles City. Too many men with macho cranked high, and with too little outlet for healthy expression of sexual behavior, in too close contact with the opposite sex. In prisons, it is not even the opposite sex. Or if a transgender sneaks up on you in Olongapo, that spells trouble. These are aberrant living circumstances generating aberrant behavior, and like some cattle on the cattle drive, a statistical percentage will wander off the trail. My Lai massacre, fragging incidents in Viet Nam. Same same in Iraq. War is hell in many ways. I’m sure psychologists have written tons of papers about the pressures of such strange living conditions.

    • Joe America says:

      A most amusing parallel in A, that between American civilians and their military, and that between master and dog. It is good though, as I recognize that my dog, a mutt from the streets, who (that?) is happy just lying in close proximity, would throw his life away to save me from any untoward intruder. The competitive drive and figuring out ways to win expressed in B is also pertinent, and reflected in the imprisonment clause of the VFA. And C, too, characterizing the industrialization of military production, is also spot on.

      These in short form are loyalty, drive to succeed, and skill. They are what the US brings to the table.

  2. manuel buencamino says:

    1. “Judging from the acts of protesters in the Philippines, commentary in social media, rabid news reporting, and the behavior of Attorney Harry Roque, who represents the murdered victim’s family, this principle is not ingrained in the Philippines as a shining truth of the fairness of the judicial system. ”

    First, those people are not the Philippines.

    Second and more important, we must distinguish between public opinion and judicial processes. A good example of this is the case of Eric Garner. Public opinion was formed based on video footage of an unarmed black man being strangled to death by an NYC policeman. A grand jury found no cause to indict the killer cop. Numerous rallies ensued. Can one therefore generalize that the principle of innocent until proven guilty is not ingrained in America?

    Same thing happens here. Public opinion has declared Pemberton, the Ampatuans, PDAF senators, Gloria Arroyo,and a whole host of others guilty despite the fact that their cases are still being tried in the courts.

    There is public opinion and there are judicial processes. They operate under different sets of rules.

    2. “First of all, American military authorities WILL NOT allow an innocent man to to be left behind to be humiliated and accosted by unfriendly forces. Unfriendly forces include raging protest mobs or attorneys who do not respect the notion of due process. It will not let other troops see their leaders abandon an (innocent) American military man, or woman, in the heat of battle. To leave him behind.”

    But even if there were no unfriendly forces involved, the US military sees itself apart from civilian jurisdiction. I base my observation on American TV shows and news reports where a US soldier commits a crime outside the camp but a conflict over jurisdiction between the military and the civilian authorities ensues. The military wants their erring soldier tried by a military court, the civilian authorities want a civilian trial. So, if the US military is not quick to surrender its erring soldiers to its own civilian authorities then the more it will not do so to a foreign country. There could be some nuance to what I have observed on TV cop shows and news reports so I would appreciate more info on the matter.

    In sum, I would say that the only reason for the “unfair” or “uneven” provisions in the said treaties/agreements is because the US can do it. It is in a position to dictate terms. That’s just a fact. There is no need to justify a fact. there is no need to explain why any state will use all its weight and power to push its interests as far as it can because getting as much as one can is the nature of the game of states.

    A side note on the two cultural norms which I find to be common to all democracies:

    1. Innocent until proven guilty is more talk than walk. But it is necessary talk because without it we cannot aspire or even pretend to having a rule of law.

    2. The same is true of the “leave no man behind” principle, a principle that is basic to all military organizations and operations. In the Philippines, we call it “walang iwanan”. You cannot launch a military operation if your soldiers are not convinced that their fellow soldiers will not run away and leave them behind. But we know that “walang iwanan” or “leave no man behind” is more rhetoric than reality. Time and again soldiers have been left behind and continue to be left behind.

    The “leave no man behind” principle is as true as the “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” principle.

    • Joe America says:

      Point 1, yes, the protesters are not the Philippines. Also, you are correct, American demonstrations also presume guilt. You have mentioned one case. The Ferguson killing is another. In that case, the judicial rendering by a grand jury based on evidence and law was that the policeman did not warrant being tried, and the protesters rioted, believing their own personal findings under the law and evidence was the correct one, even if they had no evidence except hearsay. So yes, you make a good point. It is the legalistic reading of innocence that the military is interpreting in the custody provision. A military person has the right to be presumed innocent.

      On your point two, I agree that the military holds itself apart from the citizens, a form of exceptionalism, but that citizens understand there is a value to that kind of hard-headed sense of being right and winning. I don’t agree that the US imposes the unbalanced custody agreement “because it can” any more than the Philippines deploys American troops in its defense “because it can”. There are values involved. I believe the words “Recognizing the responsibility of the United States military authorities to maintain good order and discipline among their forces, Philippine authorities will . . .” are forthright about the “why” of the provisions, and the words also suggest, that in signing the document, SOMEONE in the Philippine authority structure agreed.

      I do agree that there is the human variable to actually applying the principle of “no man left behind”, but I don’t think it is merely rhetoric. It is a value, and it binds people.

      So as the captain of the Philippine naval ship, do you turn your sailor over to the Saudi police?

      • manuel buencamino says:

        1. Not if I don’t have to.
        2. The Philippines cannot deploy American troops. The US cannot deploy Philippine troops either. Both can only cite treaty obligations. And, in the end if one were to come to the assistance of the other, who commands what will still have to be discussed.
        3. That the Philippines agreed to the terms is beyond doubt. Not only SOMEONE but the president and the Senate did. My point is not that we were forced to sit at the negotiating table and sign the treaty/agreement (I don’t compare those agreements to the Indian Treaties), my point is that we had very little push in the negotiation that we entered into of our own volition.
        4. Myths and rhetoric binds people. Camelot and “Ask not…” of Kennedy are a perfect example of myth and rhetoric binding people.

        • Joe America says:

          1) As the Philippines has no VFA with Saudi Arabia, you would be able to sail with the soldier aboard. If you negotiated a VFA with Saudi Arabia, would you accept a clause that required you hand the accused sailor over to Saudi Arabia for justice? I am trying to get to the circumstance the US military faced when it negotiated the VFA agreement. We have to get to that same point to understand it. To some extent you are waffling to avoid the hard decision.

          2) That’s true.

          3) The VFA was signed in 1999, and I don’t know why the Philippine position was weak at that time, or weaker than it is now. It was only “weak” on the custody agreement because the Philippines was getting so much value from the whole deal: a LOT of training (exercises here plus slots at US military academies) plus the comfort of being able to communicate and coordinate with US forces in conflict. I got the impression from the EDCA negotiations that the Philippines was not weak, and negotiators got much of what they wanted (no long term leases; building ownership after US spent for construction). I guess I am not seeing the position of weakness. I am seeing a position of great benefit and it would be foolish not to sign the VFA deal. That’s why Gazmin’s silence is rather perplexing. He doesn’t value the training for his people? And Roxas does not value the disaster relief? Why does Harry Roque speak louder than they do?

          4) Rhetoric also tears people apart.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            Okay. Suadi, I would insist on keeping not only custody but legal jurisdiction over my troops, just like it was when we had a bases treaty with the US. Why? Because Saudi has a death penalty and we don’t. Secondly, their legal process is alien to us. Third, because Saudi is an absolute monarchy and so there is no rule of law other than the king’s will.

            • Joe America says:

              That clarifies a lot for me, MB, along with other discussions here. Distrust rules, and that is the fundamental position of the US. “If we (the US military) don’t control it, we distrust it.” Filipinos ought not feel particularly discriminated against, though, because the US military/security beast also has reportedly spied on allies like Germany, and US military leaders don’t trust US politicians, either, so why should they trust Filipino politicians or a justice system that seems unattached to law?

              But, as Bert concludes in his succinct way, the different clauses of the two VFA’s are hypocritical when weighed against the values put forth in this blog (innocence and leave no soldier behind), and as you and Steve point out, size (power) matters at the negotiating table. The Philippines has only “access to convenient territory” to offer the US.

              If the Philippines seeks both security and sovereignty (meaning the power to stand toe to toe with powerful nations), it needs to develop its own military strength, its economy (so that it becomes a meaningful trading partner to the bigs), and tighter democratic harmony when dealing with military and security affairs.

              The distrust of America registered in the Philippines is natural and healthy.

              Gadzooks, I learned a few things in this blog that I did not expect to learn.

  3. Steve says:

    As Manuel says, the people screaming over the case represent a fairly tiny percentage of the populace: judging from social media, the “who cares, it was only a bakla” trope seems to be getting at least as much play as “hang Pemberton”.

    Also as Manuel says, Americans are known for being a bit selective about “innocent until proven guilty”: public assumptions of guilt are by no means unknown in the US, and as far as I know most of the folks getting the waterboard treatment hadn’t been proven guilty of anything. Of course belief in “innocent until proven guilty” goes only as far as trust in the judicial system, and Americans may understandably have a bit more of that than Filipinos.

    I don’t personally have any major issues with how the case is being handled so far, though I think it’s in the US Navy’s interest to do everything possible to cooperate, and take no visible steps to affect the outcome. Despite the ruckus on the streets, a court in Olongapo is more likely to be biased in favor of US personnel than the other way around, and the guy probably has a better chance of leniency there than he does in a US military court.

    What Americans need to understand, of course, is that all of these things get tied up a bit with history. Back in the day, Olongapo and Angeles made Sodom and Gomorrah look like Omaha, Nebraska… you could do anything with or to anyone for the right price, with no penalty of any kind. US Servicemen accused of crimes were simply removed from the country. There was zero accountability, and as always, zero accountability brought out the worst in many people. Of course it was all very good for the local economy, especially for the local elites (the money flowed up and stayed there), but it became a national embarrassment, and was a major factor in generating opposition to the bases among social conservatives, the religious, and mainstream political groups that would normally support a US presence. Events that suggest a return of this situation therefore cause some stir, as well they might.

    Since the US obviously prefers to keep a military presence here for its own reasons, it is clearly in the interests of the US and the US Navy to assure that this situation is not repeated, either in reality or in perception. That is why it seems so strange to me that the Navy just allows these things to happen, when they are so easily preventable.

    This is not about morality, or right and wrong. The job of the US Navy is to advance US interests, period, full stop. Incidents like this cause trouble all up and down the line… imagine being the US Ambassador or the Pacific Fleet Commander and getting that phone call. Incidents put the US on the defensive and impair the US position in future negotiations. They hand propaganda to enemies of the US. Propaganda is a weapon, and a smart military force doesn’t hand weapons to its enemies.

    The answer, to me, is to keep the boys under control. Daytime shore leave only, within SBMA only (if in Subic), no alcohol or girls. Not good for the local sex trade, of course, or for the local elites that make money from it, but supporting the local red light districts is not the job of the US Navy. The sailors might complain, but providing its employees with booze and hookers is also not the job of the US Navy. Advancing the interests of the US is the job of the US Navy, and that means maintaining as smooth a relationship with host countries as possible. If that means a few guys don’t get laid and a few pimps (and their bosses) make less money… who cares?


    • Joe America says:

      A fine assessment, indeed. I actually backed into this blog by trying to figure out why the US did not turn Pemberton over to Philippine authorities. In my right column, I had recommended they do so, and was a bit dismayed that they had not. I figured that they did not want to set a precedent. In exploring this, and actually reading the VFA document, the “good order and discipline” started a different train of thinking going. So I placed myself in the shoes of top military brass and wrote the blog.

      I do think the US military does give proper instructions to people going on leave, but the human condition is what it is, and rage arises if the circumstances are right. It does that if the people are Filipino or American, civilian or military, in an R&R town, or in the rice fields. My counsel to each person leaving the ship would be, “look, Smith got 40 years for being stupid, don’t be like Smith. There is no tolerance for American stupidity here because Filipinos have, historically, had their fill of it.”

      • sonny says:

        Dick Gordon was my classmate. Given a chance I will ask him about back in those days. He lost his father (the mayor of Olongapo) to an assassin’s bullet. Maybe at this age, memories will require less hesitation about those days. I mention this because the Olongapo of those days were touchy subjects.

        • Joe America says:

          Dick Gordon is a strong advocate FOR the visitation by US ships, as it provides jobs and a boost for businesses other than bars and fleabag hotels. That was before the Laude murder, though, now that I think about it. (I read his comment in the paper a few months ago.) I’d guess he is still an advocate for visits. Laude is not the only murder in Olongapo, I’d guess.

          • Steve says:

            Gordon was always a strong advocate for a US military presence, and never wanted the bases closed in the first place. I don’t think the Laude incident would do anything to change his mind: Olongapo and Angeles have always viewed the sex workers as disposable, and have always been willing to accept a bit of collateral damage among them as the price of keeping the money flowing.

            I spend 5 years in Olongapo, late 90s t 2001 or so, didn’t care for it much and didn’t come away with a positive view of the Gordon dynasty.

            • Joe America says:

              Yes, Olongapo, Victory Liner terminal, Immigration Office, cracker-box mall, gateway to Subic, Ocampos, Gordon Hospital . . . yep, yep. My favorite rides were the blue buses north to where I lived for a couple of years (San Felipe). The drivers were maniacs. My favorite was the one where the conductor was pouring water onto the engine through the floorboard as the driver cranked at about 100KPH past the Victory Liners on the narrow highway. E ticket, man, e ticket. My knees stopped shaking about two hours after I got home. I went and bought a car shortly thereafter.

            • sonny says:

              @ Steve

              “… didn’t care for it much and didn’t come away with a positive view of the Gordon dynasty.”

              Everybody in campus knew Dick. Imagine him as head cheerleader during NCAA (Philippine version) basketball games. And you couldn’t miss him in History class:

              Prof: Petrarch was the father of Italian Humanism. Who was the mother?
              Dick Gordon: (no hesitation) Mrs. Petrarch, sir!

              Sorry . Couldn’t resist. 🙂

              “Where have all the young men gone? Gone to soldiers every one. When will they ever learn …”

              @ Joe

              ” My knees stopped shaking about two hours after I got home. I went and bought a car shortly thereafter… ”

              The provincial buses headed north from Manila always passed by Angeles & Dau. As a passenger I always knew. we were there because of the traffic jams the bus had to navigate through. And there to the west side at the foot of the Zambales mountains are the ever-foreboding gates & fence of Clark Air Base and the screeming jets of the 13th Air Force. It was the largest US air base outside of CONUS. Now, when I think large, I think puny me driving along Edwards. 🙂 (no metaphors yet, Joe)

              • Joe America says:

                Ahh, so our paths have passed, a couple of decades apart. Our route to Manila was via the Subic/Tarlac expressway, past Clark, hang a right onto NLEX, past Dau and the malls at San Fernando (where my wife often dragged me) and into town at 80 per. Clark always seemed like a beautifully situated, under-utilized facility to me.

                The river beds in that area are mined for fine, gray Pinatubo sand that makes for very strong cement. It is rather awesome driving over the giant washes left by the raging rivers. Reminds me of some of the wilder Western US states, carved by wind and water. No homes on THOSE river banks.

              • sonny says:

                Joe, my thoughts go beyond the Zambales mountains and descend to the malaria infested jungles of Bataan. April, 1942 after the CO barked “Every man for himself!” a 30-year old 3rd LT took his chances in those jungles. He survived to fight under Major Russell Volckmann, USMA ’34, till Yamashita’s surrender in Baguio, Sep of 1945.

              • Joe America says:

                Ahhhh, am I to guess? My father spent six years in the army during that period, costing him his chance for a college education. He spent time in Italy doing the weather reports that were so critical to Allied pilots. He drew a lucky straw.

                So where exactly is Yamashita’s treasure? I’ve bought two properties in the Philippines, and in both instances, locals claimed the treasure might be buried there. I think it is a technique in the local “guide to clinching the real estate sale”.

                And of whom do you speak?

              • Steve says:

                I used to drive between Olongapo and Angeles before the SCTEX went in… a Co I was doing some work for in SBMA opened a branch in the CSEZ and I refused to move to Angeles, just went there a couple times a week. You had to ford a big lahar bed, where I once made the mistake of hooking up the Hilux and towing some poor stuck dude out, only to be accosted by irate locals demanding that I pay them the 2000 pesos they thought he would eventually have agreed to pay them to get him out. Didn’t pay, but didn’t enjoy it either. I still have that truck, which has seen more abuse than any vehicle should have to bear in a lifetime.

                I enjoyed the physical environment there… in the course of that 4-5 years we found mountains to climb in Zambales, a marine preserve for snorkeling in Masinloc, looked up surf breaks in San Narciso before they became popular, found white water rivers to paddle in northern Bataan good water level was rare but fun when it ran) and north of Iba, on one of the cleanest rivers I’ve ever seen. Used to go out in the jungles with Aeta guys from kanawan (Bataan) and Dampay (Palauig, Zambales), learned things. Found a 4×4 plus hike route up to the Pinatubo crater from the Zambales side. Bought a small catamaran and a sea kayak, sailed/paddled every inch of coast from Morong to Pundaquit, camped at Anawangin and Nagsasa before the tour crown knew they existed… would drag in filthy exhausted happy every Sunday night past the same old soggy expats sucking down beer and whining about how bored they were.

                The human environment was less appealing, and I was happy to grab a chance to get back to Mt Province!

              • Joe America says:

                Ah, thanks for living my dreams. At least one of us got to do all that. 🙂 I did manage to get to the Jollibee in Iba though, ahahaha. Seriously, that’s great adventuring. The sea kayak is a special touch. And I once studied google earth for access to Pinatubo from Zambales. It looked pretty rugged.

              • sonny says:

                He was my dad, Joe. 2nd Yr Law student, conscripted from UST ROTC. He was captured late 1942 and incarcerated at Fort Santiago, Intramuros. Released by Japanese provisionary government, 1944; Went underground to join Volckmann’s guerillas in the lowlands of Ilocos and highlands of Benguet province gathering intel for MacArthur’s 6th and 8th Army Corps prepping for Philippine liberation campaign, 1944 (Leyte, Mindoro, Lingayen Gulf, Tagaytay, Manila, Bessang Pass, Mountain Province, Baguio).

                First-hand WWII stories: Philippine Armed Forces fighting with mainly blood and guts; MacArthur and Eisenhower pulled out summariily to lead Pacific and European theaters; with just a germ of a Navy – 6 Italian-made PT-boats (no PT-109s there). Saddens me to hear of profligacy of late-vintage Filipino general defrauding his own people’s national security! Yes, I do appreciate the visible presence of the US Navy on Philippine waters. And yes, I can’t take away the thought of an ersatz Marshall Plan for those times, even just for the good Subic and Clark brought.

              • Joe America says:

                A tip of the coffee mug to your father, Sonny. I studied of the Zambales rebel forces under the Magsaysay brothers. Their band was made of similar tough stuff. They absolutely destroyed the Japanese infrastructure along the coast so the Americans could come in without a shot fired. Outrigger fishing boats had to go out to the American ships to let them know the “coast was clear”. I wonder if that’s where that saying originated. That or a similar circumstance. Yes, corrupt generals are as low as corrupt judges, on the scale of betrayal of oath.

              • Steve says:

                As for the treasure, it seems to be practically everywhere… at least it seems that everywhere I’ve been in the Philippines somebody is convinced that it’s just around the corner. Some even offer to cut me in on the proceeds in return for a small investment in the recovery process. They rarely want more than a few million pesos, and of course the proceeds would be way above that, and of course all of them must be completely legitimate. Of course there are also some who think I know where it is (what other reason could there possibly be for a pink to be wandering around in the mountains?), and follow me around looking for the secret.

                I once spoke to a man who was absolutely certain that the treasure was buried on the campus of the Central Luzon State University in Munoz, Nueva Ecija. He knew because when the Japanese invaded, that was the only place they didn’t bomb, clearly because they didn’t want to destroy the treasure. I asked how the treasure got there before the Japanese invasion… got no answer, but he remained unshaken in his certainty.

              • sonny says:

                @ Joe

                Ah, the gold. 🙂

                factoid: significant concentrations of gold were mined at Paracale, the Bicol region and the mountains of the Cordillera; indications of this were early gold teeth of some of the mountain womenfolk. The earliest rumor (moi, growing up in Baguio, of gold were from the Muellers of Mountain Province, the elderly Mueller was married to a native lady). The Spanish knew of the Paracale mines, hence they established a garrison there. Note: one can sort of trace where the Spanish settled in the islands by the more than rare fair physiognomy of the local population. Notice this in Zamboanga, or Sariaya or Cavite, that’s why they speak Chavacano (pidgin Spanish) in Zamboanga and Cavite.

                Gold stories of WWII period: the transport of tens of millions of gold in bullions to Fort Knox from the Philippine colonial treasury via submarine, when hostilities were imminent. Or was it silver?

                The Yamashita gold was culled from Malaya campaign. Nobody knows where it is or whether it was repatriated to Japan.

                These tales I heard growing up in the ’50s.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, I shall keep my shovel sharpened for the next big lead. It wasn’t under the big clump of bamboo out back.

              • sonny says:

                A tip of my flute of Moscato to your beloved dad, Joe. To the great generation from either shore of the Pacific pond. 🙂

              • Bert says:

                Don’t bother anymore with the shovel, Joe. The Yamashita Gold is nowhere near any cave or under any school ground but according to my friend who is a conspiracy theorist and a reliable source of information the gold hoard is in a very secure vault somewhere in the vicinity of Batac, Ilocos Norte, :).

              • Joe America says:

                I have access to dynamite. Can you e-mail me the GPS coordinates? I’d appreciate it. 🙂

              • Steve says:

                Gold production was of course well established by the time the war began: the American-built mine at Lepanto in Benguet (still in operation) was the largest in the country and became the single largest Japanese industrial enterprise in the country… but the Japanese retooled it to produce copper, which they needed more than they needed gold. How much of the gold produced in the Philippines was still here at the time of the invasion, and how much fell into Japanese hands, remains open to question, and the numbers are not likely to be all that large. Many authors have jumped to rather breathless conclusions: according to Sterling Seagrave, for one, the total gold buried in the Philippines exceeds the total gold produced by all mines in the world’s history. How that feat was managed Seagrave doesn’t say, but he was never one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

                I really don’t believe the stories at all. The Malayan and Chinese plunder was not likely to have been all that large: Asia was not a primary gold producer in those days and the British had been effectively looting China through the opium trade for a century before the war began. The stories feed upon romantic myths of vast treasure hoards in the hands of exotic potentates, but there’s little reason to think there’s any truth to the stories. I’ve read that the Sultan of Sulu had a hoard of gold double the total of all gold mined in history… where if came from remains, naturally, unmentioned.

                Yamashita was by all accounts I’ve read a loyal soldier who would have been unlikely to retain plunder for his own use, and there is no logical reason why gold plundered on the mainland would have been sent to the Philippines, rather than back to Japan. I don’t doubt that some individuals stashed bits and pieces of loot along the way, but the huge hoards are, I suspect, a myth.

              • Bert says:

                The tremendous amount of loot attributed as having been stolen by Pres. Marcos added credence to the veracity of the romantic story about the Yamashita treasure considering that the Philippine government at the time don’t have that much money proportionate to the amount allegedly hoarded by the former president touted by his detractors as having been stolen from the government. As a romantic person, sometimes I am inclined to believe the story, ahehehehe.

              • Bert says:

                “Yamashita was by all accounts I’ve read a loyal soldier who would have been unlikely to retain plunder for his own use, and there is no logical reason why gold plundered on the mainland would have been sent to the Philippines, rather than back to Japan”—Steve

                Not for his own use but on behalf of his government. In 1944, General Yamashita was pulled out from China and re-assigned to the Philippines to assume command of the Japanese Fourteenth Area Army composed of 262,000 troops. A segment of that force, numbering 152,000 assigned to defend Norther Luzon was under his personal command. Later, he was force to retreat from Manila and fled to the Sierra Madre and the Cordillera mountains before his final surrender to the Americans forces in 1945. He surrendered in the presence of his former American prisoners of war in Manchuria and Singapore, General Jonathan Wainwright and General Arthur Percival.

                It’s likely that Yamashita had the treasure with him all along.

                Yamashita’s last stand was in Kiangan, Ifugao, so I would guess Steve has the better chances of finding it than the rest of us, :).

    • Micha says:


      “Back in the day, Olongapo and Angeles made Sodom and Gomorrah look like Omaha, Nebraska…”

      Hahaha… Jon Stewart would be envious at your talent for digging out humor with a sting.

  4. josephivo says:

    Evidence based policies or policy based evidence… I don’t know exactly what I was reading, but one experience popped up.

    Long time ago on a lost week-end I visited some Civil War battle fields in Virginia. At one I could overhear a proud American mother asking her two little boys: “Do you know why the Civil War was the bloodiest war ever fought?” (as many American casualties in that war as in all other wars together where Americans fought abroad), and after some silence came the answer: “Because brave Americans were fighting brave Americans!!!” Unfortunately I had just read that the Civil war was the last big war where hygiene was completely neglected, where more soldiers died from contagious diseases than in battle (at a ratio of 2 to 1 in total – and 5 to 1 for black Americans). High class generals disregarded many basic needs of low class soldiers. In the WWI the ratio was completely reversed. What the mother said was “We are the best!!!”, let’s spin the facts, so they can proof it.

    Are Americans coming to the Philippines to fight or to train? Did Filipino fighters die in their American partner’s wars, Korea, Vietnam, Irak…? When did the last American die in a Filipino war? Shouldn’t based on facts the detention clause be reversed?

    The problem with Americans is their lack of empathy for outsiders. “We know, we are the biggest and best, the others are idiots.” (This lack of empathy is starting to hurt them internally too, look how Democrats and Republicans completely talk beside each other.) And yes, often they are right, and yes, often I admire the American assertiveness, the American compassion, the American drive to get things done.

    • Joe America says:

      The Mutual Defense Treaty, which the VFA and EDCA help implement, calls for US forces to aid the Philippines if Philippine land or ships are attacked, and for the Philippines to aid the US if American land or ships are attacked. In all likelihood (a laugher according to Sal), the US would come to help defend the Philippines rather than the other way around. The Philippines is unlikely to assist much when Russia invades Alaska, for example. I suppose her navy might help a US ship under distress in the neighborhood of the Philippines.

      The Philippines was a part of the Iraq coalition but dropped out early because it was politically unpalatable for Arroyo based on protests here. American troops have been engaged in southwestern Mindanao for many years now. The specifics are secret, but I suspect drones and advisers were instrumental in diminishing the power of the terrorist bands, helping to set up the reasonable promise for peace and economic renewal of the region.

      If a spat between the Philippines and China broke out, it is likely that American equipment (weapons), rather than bodies, would be the huge value added.

      • Joe America says:

        I see I neglected to comment on the “lack of empathy” charge. It is important to distinguish between different classes of Americans, and different times. For sure, America under George Bush after 9/11 was not in a temperate mood. The military assertiveness and NSA are an outgrowth of that. President Obama has backed off from US pushiness abroad, but he does indeed believe in American “exceptionalism”. So that is a form of arrogance I suppose. American tourists are often obnoxious, I agree. Young people maybe not so much. Generally, Americans are a compassionate people, though. Politicians are not.

        • josephivo says:

          Unfortunately it are the (elected) politicians that make the decisions over war and peace. If China is a real problem for them, stopping China (as Japan) at Philippine soil will again be preferred over stopping China on American shores, even with 100,000’s of Filipino civilians as collateral damage. If China is of no tread to the US, their actions might be limited to some fearsome declarations only.

          • Joe America says:

            You toss out those 100,000 civilian deaths as if it were all a calculated play by America and, given an alternative, the Philippines would prefer to be absorbed by China. As if the Philippines would not be inclined to fight for her sovereignty. I don’t agree with that. WWII showed that Filipinos will fight for their sovereignty with machetes if necessary. You are advocating the US let China have the Philippines because to fight for the Philippines in the Philippines would cost Filipino lives. America should wait and fight China on the California beaches. And fight the Filipinos who would be conscripted by China while they are at it. You really seem to put America in a box with no right choice. Fight for the Philippines or let China have the Philippines. Bad boy America.

            Or you think China will sail right past the Philippines to get to Guam and Hawaii, and let all those resources stay in Filipino hands?

            How about we grant the Philippines the stature to make some decisions for the Philippines, and be accountable for those decisions. Like, what if we grant that the Philippines is a fully independent, sovereign, capable state? And not a pawn of the US.

            • Steve says:

              I don’t think the Chinese would have the slightest interest in invading and conquering the Philippines… why bother? They might take the disputed islands and slap the Philippine military around a bit, but there’s no benefit to them in invasion and occupation. The prospect of China attacking the beaches of California is of course remote enough to be beyond the outer edge of absurdity.

              If the US fights China anywhere it will likely be in the Indian Ocean, where the US could interdict a huge portion of China’s outbound merchandise trade and inbound commodities, crippling the Chinese economy without coming within the effective range of China’s armed forces. Why fight them where they are strong when you can fight them where they are weak?

              Of course Chins is also extremely dependent on trade, and thus vulnerable to economic sanctions in a way few other countries are. The US is also likely to take the approach with China that worked against the Soviets: contain and wait for the internal meltdown. Behind the growth, China has enormous internal problems and they look to be catching up.

              • Joe America says:

                I could extract some degree of optimism from this analysis that there is little for China beyond where she currently sits. Having laid claim to the seas she will start to mine them I suppose. What is your reading on what happens if ITLOS rules in favor of the Philippines? I don’t understand the choice of friction and offense to neighbors when China could work cooperatively, buy the minerals she needs, and thrive in good harmony. So that causes me to not understand, and lose that little bit of optimism.

              • Steve says:

                My own feeling is that what China can extract from the disputed seas (estimates of resources vary widely) is of secondary importance. What China wants is the kowtow: acknowledgment of primacy in the region and submission from the smaller neighbors. I don’t think China wants or needs to seize resources by force… at this point it’s cheaper to buy them than to take them, and while countries like the Philippines and Vietnam might be taken, they would be a pain in the ass to hold and exploit.

                I don’t think ITLOS will change much: the ruling is not enforceable and would be mainly a psychological defeat. The Chinese might feel compelled to do something obnoxious to show they don’t care. A move like seizing Second Thomas Shoal would be easily done and would probably be insufficient to inspire any response beyond talk.

                The critical variable to me is China’s domestic economic situation, which is looking increasingly strained. So far the Chinese have tolerated the overwhelming corruption and abuse of power shown by the government, because it has come with huge growth and new opportunity, but if the growth fades friction will rise, at which point the regime might just decide that a splendid little war, with the Philippines as the obvious target, might be just what’s needed to rally support behind them.

              • Joe America says:

                Hahahaha, there goes my optimism.

      • Steve says:

        Actually the MDT requires the parties to respond in accordance with their constitutional processes, which does not require anyone to come to anyone else’s aid. If, say, the PLAN sank a Philippine ship, the US would only be required to respond in whatever way the US political process chose to respond. That could be sanctions, or words, or whatever the US wants to do. If Congress decides that the appropriate response is to unclog our collective nose in Chna’s general direction, that would technically satisfy the terms of the treaty.

        Having US personnel and equipment present at Philippine military installations would of course constitute a significant deterrent, as attack on those installations would then be an attack on US forces, not just on the Philippines.

        • Joe America says:

          Right, and given that softness, we have China’s hardness. I wonder how many generations forward the thinking goes. Now that China is established right on the beaches of the First Island chain, there must some piecemeal plan in place to . . . um . . . embrace them. Taiwan goes by way of political assimilation. Some kind of provocation elsewhere might occur. It is interesting to me how both Russia and China are embarked on similar strategies.

          “When the burden of inferiority feelings becomes too heavy for the shaken equilibrium of auto-estimation to be restored by useful activity, the forces of the psyche are inevitably side-tracked in the direction of aims of fictitious superiority.” Inferiority Feelings: In the Individual and the Group by Oliver Brachfeld

          Yep. Uh huh. There y’go.

          • Steve says:

            I see it less as softness than as flexibility, and I can certainly see why the US would not want to be in a treaty relationship that could compel it to go to war if it didn’t want to. If and when there is cause to respond, the US will respond as it sees fit, which is pretty much as one would expect.

            • Joe America says:

              To the US, it is flexibility and allows the politicians, who may have different approaches with each successive election, decide what to do. However, I think the Chinese read it as softness. As opportunity to push as far as push will go.

              • Steve says:

                I don’t think any country would sign a long term treaty that could compel it to go to war against its will. The Chinese are actually being quite careful not to push the envelope to a point that would offer any opportunity for intervention, hence the use of civilian coast guard and fisheries patrol vessels for the pushing and shoving role.

      • josephivo says:

        What is threatening is that China thinks on a different time scale. They might count on their investments in science and technology where the gap with the US is closing fast. In some breakthrough fields as the human genome and brain-mapping they seem to be ahead. More intelligent people with better a education producing better products (and better weapons)…

        The threat is that China is preparing for the new wars. Their posturing in the old strategies might be just a decoy. (NSA didn’t see the virtual attack on Sony coming…, Not enough prepared for Ebola and thus for viral attacks… When will Apple be surpassed?… Where will the breakthrough in solar or geothermal energy be?… A macho army and a few elite universities will not save the US – even with support of the Philippines 😉

      • Steve says:

        Re this:

        “I suspect drones and advisers were instrumental in diminishing the power of the terrorist bands”

        Contrary to occasional rumor, the US has never deployed armed drones in the Philippines. The Feb 2012 air strike on an ASG camp in Jolo, widely reported as a drone strike, was actually carried out by PAF OV-10s dropping US-supplied JDAMs. Surveillance drones have been deployed and have probably had some impact.

        By the time the US got involved the ASG were less “terrorists” than a bandit group with a rather nominal Islamist identity. Their connection to AQ and JI has been less tight and less problematic than their connection to local civilian and military officials: ransom money does spread around, one reason why the KFR business has endured. That cooperation reached its most blatant level in JUne 2001, when an ASG group with hostages was surrounded in a hospital in Lamitan, Basilan. There was literally a recess called in the war while a ransom was paid, and the 2 ransomed hostages released. The ASG band then mysteriously “escaped” with the remaining hostages with no engagement from the surrounding military forces… draw your own conclusions on that one!

        The main American contribution, IMO, was that the US presence combined with the tighter hand applied by the Arroyo Presidency as she consolidated control disrupted the connection between the ASG and their official prtners, making the KFR business more difficult to sustain. The ASG’s recruitment power was always about money, not ideology, so when the money stopped coming in the group splintered, and in many cases old rivalries over the distributions of proceeds broke out, turning members against each other. Some factions returned to their ideological roots (including those that carried out the Superferry bombing), others carried on with their illegal activities at whatever level they could manage.

        Identifying the allegiance of any given armed band in that area is always difficult: groups switch identity as often as they change their underwear and are liklely to fight wherever the profits lie. Tom Lehrer once described Werner von Braun as “a man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience”. That description is close to universal in that part of the country!

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, I meant surveillance drones. From your description, it sounds like the remaining bands of Muslim “terrorists” are much akin to the remaining bands of NPA “political rebels”. That is, they are extortionist gangsters and nothing more. They will evaporate when locals get tired of them destroying their opportunities for work and a decent living . . . which I believe is what is happening now as money for economic development flows into long-neglected communities.

          • Steve says:

            The character of NPA groups varies widely with location; it’s become a very decentralized organization. In Eastern Mindanao, the last place where they have a really potent presence, they have prospered largely because they can tax or extort money from extractive ventures like logging and both large and small scale mining. Of course the government also taxes and extorts protection money from the same ventures, officially and unofficially. They also have a ready stream of recruits: the fighting backbone is drawn from the Lumad tribes who have been marginalized and driven off the productive ;and by Visayan settlers, making the core casus belli rather similar to the fighting in Central Mindanao.

            I don’t know that money for economic development will help much until the pernicious cycle of big man politics and dynasty rule is addressed. The development money is typically monopolized by the dynasties and used for their benefit; when it does get to actual projects it’s the dynasties that claim credit for their own political purposes. Most of those doing the fighting never had much opportunity for work and a decent living, a circumstance that they blame (not unreasonably) on the government.

            The pattern of landgrabbing and human rights abuse by both military/police and by private armies and militias associated with the dynasties also boosts the NPA. The town I live in was basically pro NPA for 25 years (that’s beginning to change, largely because the NPA has been stupid). That stems back to 1988, when a group of drunk soldiers sprayed some bullets around the town and killed 2 kids. A few days later a 12 year old was shot and killed taking a short cut through the woods on the way to school. People have long memories (my wife still hates seeing soldiers around) and killing people’s children is a poor way to win hearts and minds.

            The government’s biggest challenge in Mindanao is not bringing bandits and rebels within the rule of law, but bringing its own representatives within the rule of law.

            • Jake says:

              And Duterte, no matter how Davaoenos put him in the pedestal, is part of the problem. Dude operates his DDS with the NPA. Even made a statement that NPA taxation is a reality. Add to that his diatribes of “I will shoot you if you dont obey”

              I think the efficacy of “gayuma” has been proven by Duterte. Or maybe, a lot like “The Allegory of the Cave” where Davaoenos enthustiacally defend their Dirty Harry.

    • Jake says:

      I agree the lack of empathy for others that seems the pop culture nowadays. Especially the younger generation.

      At least the older generation of American women had Claire Phillips and Margaret Utinsky. Now, all American women have idols that pornify themselves and make themselves famous through sex tapes or “hacked” nude photos in the internet (I’m looking at you Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton)

      Back in the days, Americans become popular because they did good for other people. Phillips and Utinsky were popular among POW because she smuggled food and medicine and gave them morale. Americans nowadays become popular by pornifying themselves.

      To add to that, my California raised cousin thought Seattle was another country!

      No wonder Americans lag behind SAT scores especially if you compare it to Koreans and Japanese. The Americans developed a “me, me, me” attitude making them oblivious to the world.

      One of my POL SCI prof said: Everyone in the world knows where the US is, but we don’t know where everybody is.

  5. Bert says:

    Comparing the Pemberton’s case to what has occurred in Ferguson, the reactions manifested by the public and some politicians to the two unfortunate events in my mind, I think I agree with Joe’s assessment that there is some correlation to cultural aberration there rather than a matter of sovereignty, only that I think it’s much worse in America and the hatred born out of the causes that triggered the animosities is much deeper and more pronounced. In the Ferguson case, a police officer killed a man he accosted for some report of a crime committed and the victim resisted the policeman’s action. Pemberton on the other hand, if it’s true that he killed the victim, did it out of rage, if the reports in the news is correct. And so, there were protests in the streets because of the incidents, and some politicians pander to the clamor of the mob, maybe for some pogi points who knows. In Ferguson, Americans went on a rampage and destruction, and some politicians in various levels pander to the mob, maybe for some political pogi points, too, who knows. I could only imagine what Americans would do if a Filipino military man in America, out of rage, killed an American, say for example in New York or California. I’ll bet it would not have anything to do with sovereignty. And, I’m afraid it could be worse.

    • Joe America says:

      If a Filipino military man killed an American in the US, it would be looked at like any other murder, a case of a guy gone nuts in a peculiar situation. There would be no sovereignty issue and no condemnation of the Philippines, I’d imagine.

      • josephivo says:

        The Philippines never occupied the US, never flattened Washington or New York to chase their enemy… No million Filipino sex tourists in Nevada… Some understandable sensibilities exist here.

      • Steve says:

        I agree that there would be no sovereignty issues or condemnation of the Philippines, but there would also be no talk at all of the suspect being placed in Philippine Government custody.

      • Jake says:

        But his point was the reaction towards “the other”. If you still follow the news, two NY policemen were shot execution style during their lunch. The suspect left internet postings that he is avenging Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

        While not an issue of sovereignty, the situation was excaberated by the media and “leaders” in minority communities.

        His scenario reaction is not far fetch especially isolationist and anti immigration sentiments are on high again. Should there be a Filipino military who killed an American in US soil and is extensively covered by the US media, inciting riot in Filipino communities is not far fetched. It is going to be worse if the victim is going to be black. Many prominent black leaders, in my observation, are prone to using the race card. Jesse Jackson was in the Silicon Valley and accused Asians and whites of racism for not hiring more blacks and hispanics in the tech industry. Dude did not even consider that blacks and hispanics hardly go to business and stem courses. A black activist leader in the east coast made a statement that asians who set up shops are “harming” black businesses. Let us not forget when the blacks looted Koreatown in LA in the 90s. It does not help that to your typical American, illegals and immigrants are the same (just read facebook comments)

        A significant portion of the American society are like how you describe some Filipino reactions toward the Pemberton case.

    • Jake says:

      An early “Black” Friday spree as we call it in the US. Pun intended

  6. Bert says:

    “Actually the MDT requires the parties to respond in accordance with their constitutional processes, which does not require anyone to come to anyone else’s aid.”—Steve

    :), a mutual defense treaty that does not require both sides to defend each other. That, people, is not a defense treaty, it’s a piece of sheet, pun intended.

    • Steve says:

      The actual relevant text, if anyone’s interested:

      “Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

      I don’t see how that obligates anyone to do any actual defending, but maybe that’s just me…

      • Bert says:

        Actually I tend to agree with your view, Steve, and Joe’s seems to agree, too, he said, “Right..” didn’t he? If we are correct with our interpretation of this MDT, then I suppose it would be easy to speculate farther that this agreement has no relevance or much use to the Philippine interests as a contracting party to the treaty. Having said that, the next question that popped into my mind was, whose interests benefited more from this treaty?

        • Joe America says:

          It has relevance in the way chess is played. Slow and calculated and . . . well . . . democratic. Not rash and dictatorial. Maybe the pushing and shoving would get to economic sanctions and not war, and that would be in the best interest of the Philippines.

          • manuel buencamino says:

            The VFA and EDCA are good. They allow America to do some forward basing of arms and the Philippines some training and access to those American armaments. Plus there is also some intel sharing. So both countries entered into the agreements with their national interests, and only their national interests, in mind.

            VFA and EDCA are different from the Bases Treaty because we entered into the former voluntarily while the latter was forced down our throats. That’s why that treaty was not renewed when its time was up. The VFA and EDCA are to the Bases Treaty what the Laurel-Langley Agreement was to the Bell Trade Act which was also forced down our throats.

            • Jake says:

              Not to mention that the Americans never wanted to give up Olongapo back to the Philippines. Dick Gordon’s father, himself a half American, rallied for Philippine jurisdiction. Maybe if it was a pure brown man, Olongapo will have been returned in the 70s. addition, the US did not give back Okinawa to Japan until the 70s. Case of US jurisdiction of the place but the inhabitants aren’t even US citizens.

              Pretty much like Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa – US citizens but cannot vote in presidential elections.

          • Steve says:

            Anyone expecting a smaller country to receive an absolute, ironclad commitment of defense from a larger country – essentially asking to become a protectorate – is being unrealistic. Nations act in their own interests, and do not make promises that could someday force them into unwanted actions. Foreign affairs do not deal in certainties.

            The US would almost unquestionably have fought to defend the Philippines while the bases were here… they’d have been fighting to protect their bases, not the Philippines, but the effect would have been the same. The cost of that commitment, to the Philippines, was the surrender of a large chunk of sovereignty and pride. I don’t think the Philippines wants (or should want) to go into such a deal again, which makes a more balanced and less certain relationship inevitable.

            A credible Philippine military will make it easier for the Philippines to negotiate effective agreements: it’s easier to get commitments when you bring something to the table, and right now all the Philippines can offer is access to territory. Of course a credible military will realistically take decades to build… the current administration has started the process, but it will need sustained commitment.

      • Jake says:

        It doesnt help that in the 50s, China was Taiwan. Now, China is the mainland. The very thing that threatens our sovereignty is in the UNSC. With the clause, even the UN can’t do anything due to the veto power.

    • Jake says:

      If I’m not mistaken, the US senate never really ratified the MDT therefore, almost making the MDT null.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I completely agree. It is stunning to me that China turned away from the “cooperative engagement” that brought her into prominence in favor of dogmatism on the world stage. It’s like the cake went flat.

      I agree Iraq II was a huge mistake. It destabilized the entire region and led to the financial meltdown of 2008. That said, I like Jeb Bush. 🙂

      • Micha says:

        I messed up the link on Chinese plutocrats. Let me try it again :.

        corrupt politburo leaders of China

        Anyways, bring on JB. If he wins in the GOP primary, he’ll be easy pickings for Elizabeth Warren.

        • Joe America says:

          🙂 I like her, too.

          • Micha says:

            Really now, enough of the Bushes and the Clintons. There are 300 million Americans. Why limit our choice to these dynastic names which have, in varying degrees, decimated what used to be the American ideal?

            • Joe America says:

              I’m aligned more with Democratic ideals than Republican, but prefer that both field strong, capable, intelligent pragmatists. Then the outcome is not so risky. I don’t have confidence in Hillary Clinton, I’m sorry to say. She postures, it seems to me, offering up well calculated talking points. And I didn’t like Bill Clinton taking a public snipe at Barak Obama . . . something like “I hate that man”. He ought to contain his ego. So they are caricatures to me. Phonies. Warren, if she ran, would reveal that.

              Jeb Bush is more like his father than his brother. Practical, thoughtful, intelligent. Not paranoid and insecure and subject to the will of others. I don’t see any other Republican who has non-eccentric foundations. They are mostly religious gun nuts, red necks without the hoods I suppose. Mitt Romney is stick man. Christie has some character, but I don’t think he is as stable as Bush. So . . . in the Republican camp, I go with character over name.

              But it’s early, and maybe someone will prove me wrong and I’ll change my mind.

              • Micha says:

                The deregulation of Wall Street (repeal of Glass-Steagall) happened during William Clinton’s watch which led to the casino culture and insatiable greed of the bankers culminating in the economic meltdown of 2008. Hillary hasn’t severed their cozy relationships with the parasites of Wall Street and she is more than likely again to ask their support and donations for the campaign.

                Jeb Bush was the then governor of Florida where Al Gore was cheated of the presidency and handed it over to his brother. Practical and thoughtful.

              • Joe America says:

                Jeb Bush had nothing to do with the “cheating” as I read the case. It involved technical matters regarding the voting methods, the courts, and eventually Al Gore’s decision to end the recount in the best interest of the nation. Yes, I hold that he (Jeb Bush) is practical and thoughtful and a big step above the other Republican candidates. Which Republican prospect would you prefer?


              • Micha says:

                Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best in his Second Inaugural Address:

                “They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.”

                “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That is, in it’s essence, fascism-ownership of government by an individual or by a group.”

              • Micha says:

                I cannot subscribe to the current Republican ideology so obviously I have zero preference for any prospective Republican candidate.

                It has, of course, not always been thus. Lincoln and Teddy Bear Roosevelt are Republicans and I like them. Today’s Republicans are so far out to the right of these remarkable gentlemen.

              • Joe America says:

                Okay, I am not so wedded to ideologies, or divorced from them, figuring the application of them gets tempered by constructive democratic process. I’d likely take Bush over Clinton. It warrants further study based on the campaigns and debates.

              • Micha says:

                Gore has more than half a million votes than Bush but lost in the electoral college when the Florida result was crucial.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, but Jeb Bush had no role in the counting. To assign that problem to him to imply he is not practical or thoughtful might be politically useful, as politics is a dirty and deceitful business, but it would be factually wrong.

                The electoral college is the way voting is done, so there is nothing Jeb Bush has to do with that, either.

              • Joe America says:

                The discussion I am addressing is the following:

                Me: Jeb Bush is more like his father than his brother. Practical, thoughtful, intelligent. Not paranoid and insecure and subject to the will of others.

                You: Jeb Bush was the then governor of Florida where Al Gore was cheated of the presidency and handed it over to his brother. Practical and thoughtful.

                I think you need a different example to show he is not practical and thoughtful, as he had no role in the voting controversy as far as I can tell.

              • Micha says:

                He may or he may not have…no currently available resource to determine one way or the other. But as the governor of the state he definitely has massive influence in the electoral process from campaigning to gerrymandering. The recount itself was not concluded per the dictates of conservative Supreme Court justices so there remains a big question mark on the legitimacy of the Florida results. And, consequently, because the voting balance in the electoral college hinges mainly on who wins Florida, that premature order to stop the recount and declare Bush the winner is the context of my comment re JB handing out the presidency to his brother.

              • Joe America says:

                Al Gore made the decision to stop the recount, not Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush did not hand the presidency to his brother. But I can tell you have your political cards to play, so play away. I’ll continue consider Jeb Bush to be the best Republican candidate among a cast of really quirky dudes. It seems to me he is cut of the same cloth as his father, a decent man who foresaw the futility of invading Iraq, and who ran an honorable presidency.

              • Micha says:

                On JB being practical and thoughtful…

                I do not know the guy that well so I cannot authoritatively comment about his personal traits. I merely picked up from your assertion that he is practical and thoughtful and I would be glad if you could justify that.

              • Micha says:

                From the link you gave :

                “The Florida vote was ultimately settled in favor of George W. Bush, by a margin of only 537 votes out of almost 6 million cast, when the U.S. Supreme Court, with its final ruling on Bush v. Gore, stopped a recount that had been proposed by the all-Democrat Florida Supreme Court.”

              • Joe America says:

                I’m not interested in getting bogged down in a political debate about US candidates. I’d simply observe that Jeb Bush is likely to be a strong candidate. My concern is the Philippines.

              • Micha says:

                I don’t know Joe. Maybe it’s just the natural reality that the Philippines is so heavily influenced by the goings on in American culture, politics, and economics that what happens in America will not necessarily remain in America.

                Because Gloria Arroyo did not want a challenge to her legitimacy after her takeover from Estrada, she may have seen, in 2004, the dangers of paucity in electoral margins (Gore-Bush contest) which prompted her to contract a scheme with Garcillano for a 2 million vote victory assurance.

              • Bert says:

                Heheh, I like the sound of it, cheating in Philippine politics a derivative and influenced by the American experience in America. Nice. I won’t buy the idea though.

              • manuel buencamino says:

                Florida’s Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, ” along with state Division of Elections director Clay Roberts and Governor Jeb Bush used an inaccurate ineligible-voter list that eliminated a disproportionate number of eligible people mostly being African Americans from Florida voter rolls. According to journalist Jake Tapper, the problem went uncorrected for two years despite the warnings and complaints of elections supervisor Ion Sancho, and affected the 2000 presidential election.” [17] ( Tapper, Jake (2001). Down and Dirty, The Plot to Steal the Presidency. Warner Books. ISBN 0-316-83264-2.)

            • Jake says:

              Because the US is on its way in being a third world country.

              Welfare is used to bribe potential voters while real taxpayers are burdened and hardly allowed to benefit from the taxes they paid.

              When it comes to the developed nations, the US is in the bottom. Heck, even the Philippines do better in gender equality than the US. Of course, the Nordic countries are top, but these are also the countries where taxpayers to get the share benefits from the taxes they paid. Compare that to the US, those who have access to benefits are the elites or the lazy arse. The US is also the country where bribery is legal. It’s called the Political Action Committee.

              The US and the Philippines have a lot more in common than we like to admit. We just execute these differently.

              • Joe America says:

                You have a strange set of lenses. You take the outlying incidents and characterize them as the way things work. Radical views. I can’t relate to what you are saying and I lived in the US for a long time. Have you ever been there, or is your knowledge based on reading extremist literature?

    • Jake says:

      I suspect Putin dabbled in Crimea to simulate its economy. Oil prices are down and Russia derives 45% of its budget from oil revenue. So his admin has to prop up the other industry – their arms industry.

  7. What more can I say but… BRAVO ZULU!
    Leonard Jones (aka Jetlag807)

    • Joe America says:

      Hey, Jet. Good to see you here as we head into the new year. It’s also good to know the name behind the patriotic values, those known well by the men and women who served. Best to you. Joe

      • Thanks! Had to “come out” (no jokes please) as it were, in order to post a comment on another blog which was extremely important for folks to know… In any case, I’ll will try to check in on you from time to time. I don’t always agree with everything you write I will defend your right to say it… Happy New Year!

        • Joe America says:

          That’s okay, Leonard, I often discover that what I argued was off the mark, too. But the argument was made, the discussion had, and I learned. Others seem to get something from the debates, too, as readership is growing. Take good care.

  8. BFD says:

    Highlighting what you just juxtaposed:

    JoeAm says:

    “There are two VFA documents, actually. The other one defines the same rules for Filipino military entering the US (usually for training). Americans accused of crimes in the Philippines are held in custody by the US during trial. Filipinos accused of crimes in the US are held in custody by the US during trial. That is the famous “humiliating” imbalance cited by Senator Santiago.

    If we look at the broad practical implication of the two VFA’s, an American might see the imbalance differently. Americans agree to fight on Philippine soil while Filipinos agree to train on American soil.

    So who gets the better deal from the various imbalances?

    I think that sets the scene fair enough.”

    BFD avers:

    I think this is really the sticking point of the whole VFA deal. You said that we get training from the USA, so we get the better deal. Please let me expound on this on the historical side, the US also needs its allies to fight its own battles for them. We saw it on the Vietnam War. We saw it on the South American wars fought by the locals against the communist onslaught (remember Iran-Contra deal).

    So I think it’s only fair that the American government keep the custody issue on a balanced note. Yes, you provide the materiel to your allies, but your allies fight the wars you don’t have to fight.

    Look at Israel, you arm them to the teeth, you make better army of them because it’s in your interest to do so. You have a strong Jewish lobby that is pressuring you to do so and also a bargaining chip in your play with the Mideast political scene.

    On the wars you have to fight, when your soldiers die by the thousands and the public rises in uproar over it, then you have to find a way to go out of that war you chose to fight yourself.

    But really, what the Filipinos want is not this explanation (the excerpt I just took out from your article), but a sincere thought to treat us as comrades in arms, to share foxholes with in our fight against common enemies.

    Let me add the disparity the Americans afforded us in WW2. Yes, you came back, but it devastated the Philippines further. You bombed the enemy at that time with 2 atomic bombs.

    Both Japan and the Philippines were devastated severely by that war, but the Americans poured in more money and technology into Japan that made it to rise after that carnage.

    It gave it’s supposed ally, the Philippines, meager help to aid it to function again. It did not even recognize the men and women who fought the Japanese as fighting under the USAFFE so that up until now it’s being debated if they were to grant that privilege to the now dying breed of WW2 heroes.

    • Joe America says:

      A very strong and well-stated argument, BFD, the classic argument I suspect that represents what many, many Filipinos would say. But it remains an argument from the Philippine side of the fence and is trying to say that American cultural perspectives can be argued to fit the Filipino mold. Filipino history, Filipino interests. I’ve asked readers to try to step over to the other side of the fence, the other side of the ocean, and view the custody clause through the eyes of the American military code, which is an honor code, of loyalty among the forces, expressed in the idea of “no soldier left behind”. Asking America to turn an innocent soldier over to Philippine custody is like forcing American military people to break a code of honor to its fighting troops. I’m challenging Filipinos to see and understand why that code, and the loyalty bond it supports, is so important. It is cultural. It can’t be argued to fit Filipino interests and culture, where sensitivity about loss of face, or sovereignty, is prominent.

      We have two different cultures clashing and to work it out constructively, we have to be able to see both cultures for what they are, and then figure out a way to respect them both.

      I agree that the inequity in the custody clauses ought to be corrected, but by changing the Philippine version of the VFA to INCLUDE the honor code, and Philippine custody of errant Filipino military people who are standing accused of a crime in America. If the US will not do that, then yes, America would be hypocritical and Filipinos would be correctly angry about the inequity. But that is the only way I can figure to respect both cultures.

      For sure, America operates in her interests. Your argument is that America “uses” the peoples of other nations to advance those American interests. It is not that crass or manipulative, and every engagement has its reasons that can be discussed. If we look at the Philippines and US and China, why does the US have a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines? The US does not want to re-conquer the Philippines, there is no oil here, the US is willing to buy resources at fair market value with the Philippines gaining the profit from sale, there is a huge ocean between the Philippines and America, and as Steve said, the idea of China invading California beaches is beyond absurd. The reason is to protect the ideal of democracy and freedom around the globe because totalitarian states are a threat to America when they behave as China does.

      Well, it is also up to the Philippines to decide if it wants democracy or not. If the nation does, then Philippine and American interests coincide and we ought not be challenging why America is willing to stand with the Philippines in battle, and ascribing manipulative motives to it. Both want the same thing and are willing to fight for it. So are you.

      The whole of WWII is beyond the scope of this blog, but again, you look at it through Filipino eyes and not American, and there are two legitimate perspectives in play. Trying to decide which was “right” after the fact is wholly futile and not constructive. And looking at it from only one side gives you exactly half the entire picture. We ought to be thankful that neither you nor I had to make those very heavy, heavy decisions. Yes, America used power in Manila. Yes, America dropped the A-bombs – for a reason, not as a lark. Yes, America thought Japan was a more important stopping point for communism than the Philippines, and so invested a lot in Japan. Yes, the American political machine has been unkind to Filipino veterans, and cheap. Democracies can be as selfish as dictatorships I suppose. But Americans such as the late Senator Daniel Inouye spent a lifetime arguing for better treatment of Filipino vets.

      Shall we roll through Philippine decisions that hurt the Philippines, too?

      This need to win cross-cultural arguments I think is futile. It is best to start with and maintain respect, seek understanding, and argue the specifics without making generalized conclusions hastily. When you say “But really, what Filipinos want is not this explanation . . .” you are saying you don’t want to listen to the American side. We’ll never get to a harmonious foxhole unless we grasp both sides of the cultural divide.

    • Steve says:

      I might take issue with a few points here.

      First, America needing allies to fight wars for it… not sure the examples cited really reflect such a trend. The US “allies” in Vietnam were for the most part there not to fight for the Americans but to make a token contribution and allow the US to pretend that a coalition was involved. Ferdinand Marcos, for example, sent a small contingent in a non-combat role, allowing the US to claim the Philippines as a member of the coalition, and using that bargaining chip quite effectively in aid negotiations. Not exactly a case of anyone fighting a US battle.

      I do not think those who fought against Communism in Latin America were fighting as US proxies: for whatever reason, they were fighting for their own interests. Are Filipinos that fight the NPA fighting an American battle?

      Israel is not strong because the US arms them. Saudi Arabia has massive quantities of US arms, and they are not exactly a powerhouse in the military sphere. Armaments are only part of what makes a nation a military force to reckon with. Nations with military forces that are corrupt or where promotion is driven by seniority and connection rather than merit will not stand up in combat no matter what armaments they have.

      The “comrades in arms” issue goes back to the point made earlier about the Philippine military needing to build up its own forces to have something to bring to the table. Any conflict between with China over Philippine territory is going to be fought at sea and in the air, not on land: nobody will be sharing foxholes because there won’t be any foxholes. The Philippine Navy and Air Force are not in a position to make any real contribution in such a conflict. Countries like Japan, Korea, even Vietnam are in a better negotiating position as members of an alliance because they bring meaningful assets to the table. All the Philippines can really offer is access to territory.

      The money the US poured into Japan and Germany after WW2 was of course not charity: there was a perceived need to prevent Communists from getting a foothold in a depressed postwar economy and to build up industrial powers as buffer zones against Communist expansion. Not saying that was right or wrong, just that it was the priority of the day. In the Philippines, as in many former colonies, the same goal was pursued by putting the pre-war elites back in power and assuming that they would suppress Communism in furtherance of their own interests. I am not personally convinced that this was a wise policy, There was some logic in rebuilding the industrial apparatus of Germany and Japan, in that the skills and human infrastructure needed to manage that apparatus and make it productive were already in place. In most countries, developing the human “software” needed to support an industrial economy takes longer than building the physical apparatus.

      US treatment of WW2 veterans has been shoddy, but not nearly as shoddy as the treatment on this side. Efforts at compensation became political footballs and were largely corrupt, with local elites padding the veterans roles with their allies or nominees and often omitting legitimate veterans.

    • Lil says:

      Are we still on harping with this collective victim mentality’ emotional baggage? WW2 was long over yet Philippines is still defacing, neglecting and tearing down its own historical monuments in the name of progress, it’s citizens and its national sovereignty and challenged everyday not by US but by other outside forces as well as domestic terrorist and rebel groups.

    • Jake says:

      Which brings me to a question:

      If Germany had flipped and decided to make a memorial for their “Nazi heroes”, would the US keep silent or would they condemn it? If they condemn it, will the US also i ally condemn the Yasukini shrine that gives tribute to the 13 Japanese War Criminals? Or would they not risk offending the Japanese?

  9. Lil says:

    Hmm I’d rather Pemberton actually remained in US custody even after conviction. Philippine sentences and jails are a laughingstock in the face of justice. Something the ultra-nationalists reds should take note.

    • Joe America says:

      It seems to me that people are jailed here when they ought not be and not when they ought. 🙂 Each individual case has its legalistic arguments, but when you look at all the cases together, it turns into some incomprehensible calculus of no common or consistent basis whatsoever. Put another way, it stops making sense when people are in jail before trial for a term longer than the punishment would be if they were found guilty of their crime at trial. I’m sure Arroyo will eventually get out on one of those compassion decisions that recognizes that.

      • Jake says:

        It also happens in the US. It just that it’s not national headlines . Many innocent people are in death penalty. It’s not hard to google US cases where an innocent man was “finally freed” from jail after 20 years after being accused of a crime he did not commit.

        • Joe America says:

          I’m not sure I understand the point. The American judicial system is filled with people, and they make mistakes. The system itself is amazing in its professionalism and execution. Judges are for the most part unbiased and very capable at law, attorneys are skilled, everyone gets legal representation. Judgments are evidence based. Juries work earnestly on very difficult cases. Jails are for the most part humane. Are you advocating the Philippine system be moved to America, or what?

    • Jake says:

      When it comes to rape conviction, the Philippines is pretty awesome. Rapists in the US can get light prison sentence of two years and then, they can rape again.

      US rape conviction is a joke. No wonder there are many pedophiles.

      • Joe America says:

        Not true. I’m coming to the conclusion that you have absolutely no idea about American justice or people and operate within a framework of understanding that takes extremes and mainstreams them. I would not accept your claims without authoritative references.

      • Lil says:

        No it’s not awesome. Especially if the convicts have connections or have powerful or intimidating backing.
        How do you think the Bilibid inmates got their drugs and spas? I’ll bet you millions it’s happening in other jails too.
        And I’m not talking civilian prison/justice system. He obviously wont be sent to to that.
        Oh btw do you know the PH doesn’t have even have death penalty anymore? But the States and the Military still do.

  10. Hi I’m a new follower to the blog. Kudos on the post about Binay and the fearless predictions. I think they are all very real. I liked the depth of the analysis of the powers in play, and history.

    Just read this post and wanted to comment on these:

    “American cultural rules

    These are the two cultural norms that guide the American POSITION on the VFA:
    Innocent until proven guilty.
    Leave no man behind.”

    The first norm is universal — most legal systems do presume innocence until proven guilty. I’m not sure this is exclusively American. I can’t imagine a judicial system that works backwards: guilty until proven innocent. If this was the case, what need would there be for a judicial system?

    As with most countries that go through trial by publicity, the Ferguson unrest in 2014 is not too far away from the anti-Pemberton protests in terms of public anger. The American jury withheld the officer’s innocence before, during the trial, and eventually after, when they acquitted him. Emotion is emotion, and this is above cultural differences. Today’s generation will protest when they want to, how they want to — whether or not innocence is upheld until proven guilty.

    For the second norm of “Leave no man behind,” couldn’t help but think of my Filipino Uncle who had a high placement in the Philippine National Police. He would do clandestine trainings with the FBI in Virginia, and other law enforcement agencies in California we couldn’t really know about. (The only reason I knew the little that I know was he because he was my uncle.)

    After his training with the FBI, he would usually stay a week or two in the US to unwind. What if he went to a red light district, say Las Vegas, murdered an American transvestite (complete with all the drama of toilet bowl strangling, etc.), and ran and hid inside the Philippine Embassy in Los Angeles after the murder — could the Philippines claim diplomatic community and/or the belief that they can’t leave behind their men too?

    Or would my uncle have to be surrendered to the American legal system and go through the process just like normal criminals should? Can you imagine the American public not wanting my Uncle’s head?

    • Joe America says:

      The VFA for Filipino military who commit crimes in America requires that the accused by housed in a US jail. So I believe the Embassy would turn your uncle over. That’s the section I think should be changed to allow custody with the Philippine military or government agency during trial. I don’t think there would be a great deal of outrage, or no more than the typical bizarre murder. They seem to occur frequently. I don’t think there would be the same nationalistic fervor attached to it as we see with Pemberton unless the Embassy did defy the agreement. I doubt that there would be much attention after the announcement of the arrest. That’s a guess. Could be wrong.

  11. Jake says:

    What intrigues me with the EDCA/VFA is how it really differs from the SOFA with Korea. I read some articles on cases regarding the USFK and the Koreans can get custody of US Servicemembers even at the trial stage.

    My gist here is that Pemberton may really be guilty. The US should not harbor or protect criminals even if the crime happened off duty. As a US taxpayer, I don’t want my tax be spent on these clowns just to be given “special privileges”.

    This isn’t even comparative to the Smith case. The NCIS was not intensively involved in the case compared to this case of Pemberton. Smith case was a case of consensual sex.

    Heck, I think the US should be thankful that Pemberton is given the rights of the accused like the two month right to “delay” trial. Maybe after this case is decided on, the US will readjust this issue on custody. These clowns, while they deserve that their government to attend to their needs, do not deserve special treatment especially from the taxpayers of the country they embarrassed (the US)

    And does the Navy not brief these young men about how prevalent “ladyboys” are in the Philippines and the hotspots for gay prostitution or prostitution in general? Enter at your own risk, you have been warned. The US military should not cuddle those who don’t heed these and embarrass the nation they represent. The military should drill on their head that even off duty, they are US ambassadors.

  12. manangbok says:

    I don’t know if I should call Laude Jennifer or Jeffrey. As far as I am concerned, only a person who has endured the pain and expense of a complete sex change operation should be entitled to changing his/her name. FYI, it is more difficult to surgically alter a girl into a guy than a guy into a girl. They call the condition “gender dysphoria” as indication for the surgery. (

    In any case, I am not privy to the details of the Pemberton-Laude case so I will not make any judgments here.

    Just my POV based on my readings: in recent history, it seems that Americans (the people, not their government) are the only nation on earth willing to risk their necks (literally) in the different war zones of the world to keep some semblance of peace.

    I have watched “Black Hawk Down” by the way. Pemberton was not as cute as Josh Hartnet. But it is true (if I’m going to base it on that movie) what Mr. J said … Americans don’t leave their men behind. I wish Filipinos can say that for ourselves.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] guilty ). You may wish to read this prior article on the subject if this point is not clear: “American military culture, or why Pemberton is in US custody”.  I would hope that the Philippines would display a similar dedication to her troops in […]

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