US envoy: We’ll retain custody of Pemberton
MANILA, Philippines—Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine charged with murder of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, should remain under US custody, Ambassador Philip Goldberg said on Wednesday.
“The Philippine government has notified us that it will request custody as it can under the Visiting Forces Agreement but we, under the [VFA] can decide, as we will, to retain custody throughout the judicial process,” Goldberg said in an interview with DZRH radio.
Pemberton is currently detained at Camp Aguinaldo but is guarded by US forces.
He said they “have gone beyond the VFA in the custody arrangement to try to be sensitive to the Philippines and Filipinos.”
A murder case was filed against Pemberton by the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office for Laude’s death.
An arrest warrant was issued against the US Marine on Tuesday. The warrant of arrest was later transmitted by the Department of Foreign Affairs to the US Embassy on Tuesday night.
“The VFA is what is the controlling, the governing document on this particular issue,” Goldberg said.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, meanwhile, said their role remained custodial in nature.
“There is a governing agreement between the US and PH governments. So whatever is stated in the VFA pertaining to this case, that’s what we’ll follow,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters.
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