PH-US tug of war over Pemberton heats up
MANILA, Philippines – The custody of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton should be with the Philippine government, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Wednesday.
“There are extraordinary circumstances that the Philippine government can insist on the custody of Pemberton. To me, enough circumstances na ito ay murder with qualifying circumstances of treachery and cruelty to a fellow Filipino,” De Lima told reporters.
Pemberton was transferred from Olongapo to Camp Aguinaldo, a Philippine military facility, last October after being tagged as suspect in the killing of Jennifer Laude.
De Lima said currently, the Philippines and the US have joint custody over the soldier. But Ambassador Philip Goldberg recently said in a radio interview over dzRH that Pemberton custody should be with the US following the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
De Lima, however, pointed out that the Philippines has primary custody over Pemberton following Article 5 Section 6 of the VFA which provides that the “custody of any US personnel whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with the United States military authorities, if they so request from the commission of the offense until the completion of all judicial proceedings.”
“As far as I’m concerned, now that Pemberton is formally indicted for murder and a warrant of arrest was issued, the Philippine government should insist his custody within the purview of the VFA and I think that can be justified,” De Lima said.
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