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US ship holding Marine in Olongapo slay to stay in Subic

Camille Diola - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Five of the six United States Navy ships were cleared to leave Philippine waters late Tuesday, while the amphibious landing vessel USS Peleliu that holds the suspect in the slaying of a Filipino transgender was ordered to remain.

Retired Gen. Eduardo Oban, executive director of the Visiting Forces Agreement commission, said that the grounding of the American vessels has been lifted, while the Peleliu is further subject to investigation.

US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, suspect in the killing of Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude in Olongapo City, is detained aboard the Peleliu, reportedly along with three others who are being considered as witnesses in the upcoming murder case.

"All other ships may now leave the Philippines to proceed with their respective operations or missions," Oban said in a state news report.

The vessels docked at Subic Bay either to re-fuel or to transport thousands of American servicemen for the annual US-Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercises, or PHIBLEX.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, ordered the vessels grounded, as the USS Peleliu and the USS Georgetown were locked down for a probe by the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).

NCIS agents are working with the Philippine National Police in the investigation, while Pemberton remained under US custody amid calls to turn him over to Philippine authorities.

RELATED: AFP chief on Olongapo slay: Quite a big mistake

"The bottom line is that all those involved in the case will stay and Peleliu is not going to leave until the investigation is done," Oban said.

Other crewmen of the Peleliu, meanwhile, are allowed to be transferred to other vessels and leave the country.

Laude, 26, was found naked and lifeless inside a lodge last Saturday after spending the night with a suspected foreigner. Pemberton was named as suspect and is expected to face murder charges.

The Marine is among the 3,500 American soldiers who participated in PHIBLEX, which concluded last week. Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said that incident occurred while the forces were on break from the joint exercises.

ARMED FORCES

EDUARDO OBAN

GREGORIO PIO CATAPANG

MARINE PRIVATE FIRST CLASS JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON

NAVAL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION SERVICE

OLONGAPO CITY

PACIFIC COMMAND

PEMBERTON

PHILIPPINE AMPHIBIOUS LANDING EXERCISES

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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