Palace: Pemberton custody issue between DFA and US Embassy
MANILA, Philippines–Will Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton be sent to a regular jail after he is taken into custody by the government?
It will be up to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the US Embassy, Malacañang said Wednesday.
“Kailangan pag-usapan ‘yon doon sa coordination with the DFA, VFA, at saka ng US Embassy. So I will not be in a position to answer that. Hintayin na lang muna natin kung ano ‘yung proseso,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing.
(It has to be discussed in coordination with the DFA, [Visiting Forces Agreement] and the US Embassy. So I will not be in a position to answer that. Let’s just wait for the process.)
“There was a warrant of arrest that was issued by the court and so, as a matter of procedure, we have to enforce the warrant. We have formally sought custody of Mr. Pemberton but we have to go through the process within the purview of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Lacierda explained.
He said that while enforcement of a warrant of arrest should be done through the government’s regular process, the involvement of a foreign serviceman requires the application of the VFA.
“All this will be done within our laws and within the purview of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” Lacierda said.
US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on Wednesday said they have decided to retain custody of Pemberton throughout the judicial process despite letters sent by the DFA–one on the arrest order against Pemberton and the other requesting his custody.
Pemberton, who is detained inside a 20-foot freight container inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, is facing murder raps for the death of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude. Laude’s body was found inside the bathroom of a motel in Olongapo City on October 11.
Custody has been a controversial issue, especially since the US Embassy has asserted that the VFA allows the US to retain custody of the suspect until the completion of all judicial proceedings.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, on the other hand, said Pemberton should be transferred to a city jail. She said there should be no special treatment for the US Marine.
Although Pemberton is in Camp Aguinaldo, he is still under the custody of the US and is being guarded by American soldiers.
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