US Pacific Command: No American ships will leave PH
MANILA, Philippines – The Chief of the United States (US) Pacific Command (Pacom) has ordered all US ships in the Philippines to stay until the investigation into a US Marine allegedly involved in the death of a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City will be completed.
“I can tell you that Pacom commander, Admiral Samuel Locklear III ordered that no US ships will leave the Philippines until we are done with the investigation,” Executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Retired General Eduardo Oban Jr., told reporters in an ambush interview in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
There are around 1,400 US soldiers from two ships, the USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and the USS Germantown (LSD 42), docked at Subic Bay for annual military exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Preliminary police reports said that the victim, Jeffrey Laude, 26, was allegedly strangled to death after checking into a hotel with a “male, white foreigner” last Saturday evening.
Following the incident, a US Marine was reportedly being detained by the Peleliu ship along with three others in his unit who are considered potential witnesses.
DFA said that they have no direct involvement in the investigation of the police and are still waiting for the official report.
The United States (US) Embassy pledged to fully cooperate with the police in the investigation but did not confirm whether the suspect was indeed a US servicemen.
Asked what the process is in accordance with the VFA, Oban said that only after the investigation has been completed can they talk about the next steps.
Custody of the suspect, however, would reside with the US military authorities under the VFA, Oban said.
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