On the white sand shore of Patar Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan lay the bloodied and bare naked body of transgender woman Jessa Remiendo. She was found on Tuesday after she was hacked multiple times and killed. Her neck was almost completely cut through and her right eye gouged with a slash.
According to the police report, Remiendo was last seen drinking with coworkers and her sister at Veldevia Resort on Monday, Rappler reported. She then decided to leave the group to buy some cigarettes but never returned. Yesterday, the police arrested two suspects linked to the crime after they were identified by a witness who chooses to be unnamed, according to The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Remiendo's killing caused fear in Pangasinan's trans community, according to United Pangasinan Association LGBTQ+ President Noreen Barber. “We have a trans community here. We are widely accepted and we work together," she said, noting that Remiendo was known as a kind woman.
This is just the latest example of violence against the LGBTQ community in the Philippines. In 2014, trans woman Jennifer Laude was found dead in Olongapo City after being killed by U.S. Marine Joseph Pemberton.
On Sept. 18, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) denounced the attack against Remiendo and said the incident is a reminder of the need for a "more inclusive society that respects the rule of law."
"Nobody deserves to have their lives to be curtailed at a whim, let alone that the victim is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, a vulnerable sector of our society," added CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia.
Remiendo's death comes as Philippine lawmakers deliberate on the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill that seeks to protect the LGBTQ community from hate crimes and discrimination. The bill has been languishing in the Philippine Congress for almost a decade. There is renewed interest in it after trans woman Gretchen Diaz was denied from using the female restroom in a mall last month.
While the Philippines is thought to be an LGBTQ-friendly country, many Filipinos are still deeply Catholic and hold conservative views on the issue. In a survey by local pollster Social Weather Stations, it found that 61 percent of respondents still oppose same-sex marriage.
However, there is also a growing and dedicated movement fighting for the community's rights, with the hashtag #SOGIEEqualityNow trending online whenever national LGBTQ issues arise.
Reacting to Remiedo’s death, Twitter user @vinceliban said: “And you still think we don't deserve rights huh? You're not only depriving us of our rights, but you're also killing us. We need to end this. #SOGIEEqualityNow.”
"A trans woman was murdered in the Philippines on Tuesday. If you still use god or any other self-righteous reasons on why #SOGIEEqualityBill should not be implemented, then you are, to put it nicely, a clown. #SOGIEEqualityNow," @arvinjoaquin said.
"Filipinos say that we are already 'accepted' and the SOGIE BILL is too much well think again and open your damn eyes and mind this time. Hate crimes are everywhere and just for what? Because they simply hate us living our truth. #SOGIEEqualityNow," wrote @QuirkyKalvin.