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With interest in Laude case waning, GIs are back

/ 12:22 AM January 21, 2015

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—American naval ships have continued to dock at this free port, apparently unperturbed by a murder complaint filed against a US Marine for the killing a Filipino transgender woman in Olongapo City in October last year.

The USNS Pecos, a replenishment oiler, arrived at Alava Pier on Tuesday morning for a routine port visit, according to an official of a company that services US Navy ships.

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A similar vessel, the USNS John Ericsson, has remained docked since it came on Jan. 6 for a port visit and to replenish supplies, said the official who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to speak on the matter.

The two ships were the first US military vessels to visit Subic Bay this year.

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Last Dec. 18 , two other American ships arrived a day before US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton appeared in court in nearby Olongapo for a murder charge filed by the family of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

The USNS Richard Byrd and the USNS Carl Brashear were in Subic Bay last month for a routine port visit. Some of the civilian crew members of the two ships were allowed to leave the vessels but were barred from going outside this free port, officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said.

Earlier, SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said US military ships would resume port calls to this free port only after a major development in Pemberton’s case.

Garcia did not say what major development should take place for port calls to resume.

Garcia has said nine US ships had canceled port calls from November to December last year, except for ships that required emergency repairs.

At least 100 US ships visit Subic Bay every year, records from SBMA’s seaport department showed.

The cancellation of the port calls of the nine US ships last year came weeks after Pemberton was implicated in Laude’s murder in October. Laude was found dead in a motel in Olongapo City minutes after her companion, who witnesses identified as Pemberton, left.

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Lawyers prosecuting the case against Pemberton has asked the judge handling the case to inhibit herself for being a classmate of one of Pemberton’s lawyers in San Beda College in Manila.

But Pemberton’s camp opposed the petition of the prosecution, saying it did not see any conflict of interest case in the judge being a classmate in law school of one of the American’s lawyers.

The prosecution has argued that the judge showed her bias in favor of the Pemberton camp when she refused to arraign the American when Pemberton was first presented in court for positive identification. Allan Macatuno, Inquirer Central Luzon

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TAGS: Alava Pier, Jennifer Laude, Joseph Scott Pemberton, transgender slay, US Navy, USNS John Ericsson, USNS Pecos
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