’Gapo clings to hope of GIs’ return | Inquirer News
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’Gapo clings to hope of GIs’ return

By: - Correspondent / @amacatunoINQ
/ 12:58 AM December 05, 2015
A protester carries a placard demanding jail time for US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott  Pemberton outside the Olongapo Hall of Justice. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

A protester carries a placard demanding jail time for US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton outside the Olongapo Hall of Justice. RICHARD BALONGLONG/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

OLONGAPO CITY—Despite the conviction of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton for the 2014 killing of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, local bar and restaurant owners are gung ho about American troops being allowed to resume their rest and recreation activities here, city officials said.

Mayor Rolen Paulino said many residents and businessmen here had been looking forward to the conclusion of Pemberton’s trial.

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“We are looking forward to moving on as a city and as a people from the [Laude] incident that had greatly affected the image of the city and our country,” said Councilor Aquilino Cortez.

He said the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has been coordinating with local authorities to ensure that security protocols are at work where visiting US troops are allowed to spend their liberty.

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Local bar and restaurant owners have also been encouraged to augment efforts to renovate their business establishments to deter crimes in anticipation of frequent arrival of American ships.

“From time to time, NCIS officials are here to give US ships commanders briefing on security measures to be taken up,” Cortez said.

But he said the city is on a “wait-and-see” situation if the US Navy and US Embassy in Manila would allow liberty of American soldiers.

He said he and Paulino have been in constant communication with NCIS officials to arrange the security guidelines for visiting US forces once the liberty ban has been lifted.

Cortez said businessmen are reluctant to renovate their clubs and shops until US authorities could guarantee that American soldiers would be allowed to spend their liberty in the city.

“If there will be no liberty for the US troops, the businessmen find it a waste of money to fix their establishments as part of security measures for the visiting servicemen,” he said.

Last year, the US Pacific Command (Pacom) canceled the rest and recreation activities of US servicemen in the Philippines after Pemberton was detained and charged with murder for the death of Laude.

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On Tuesday, Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Regional Trial Court here sentenced Pemberton to between six and 12 years in prison after finding him guilty of the lesser offense of homicide in the death of Laude on Oct. 11 last year.

The US Pacom in June allowed American soldiers to leave their ships but their activities had been confined within the Subic Bay Freeport.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), which manages the free port, has yet to receive an advisory from the US

Pacom on the possible lifting of the liberty ban on US troops, said Roberto Garcia, the agency’s chair.

But Garcia said SBMA is working with city officials to improve security inside the free port.

He said shore patrol officers would be deployed to the city under the Task Force Liberty, which was formed to ensure the safety of Olongapo residents and visiting Americans on shore leave.

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TAGS: GIs, Hope, Jennifer Laude, Killing, Manila, NCIS, Olongapo, Pacom, return, SBMA, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, transgender, United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service, US Embassy, US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, US Navy, US Pacific Command, US troops
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