Arrest order first before Phl demands US marine's custody
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2014 - 10:05am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government can demand for the custody of the United States marine suspected for the killing of Filipino transgender in Olongapo City only after an arrest warrant is issued by the local courts.

Retired Gen. Eduardo Oban, executive director of Visiting Forces Agreement commission, said that an arrest warrant has to be issued first by the court before a transfer request would be made.

"Once magkaroon ng legal proceedings 'yan at naisampa na po ang kaso at nag-isyu ng warrant of arrest, I think that's a good time for the Philippine government para hingin [ang] turn-over [ng] suspect to Philippine authority," Oban said in an interview Thursday with radio dzMM.

Oban, however, said that a request for the transfer of custody may be turned down by Washington as the VFA states that in criminal cases the US retains custody of the erring serviceman even if the case is under Manila's jurisdiction.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, meanwhile, argued that a suspect's custody should rightly be with the Philippines once he is identified and charged for the crime.

"Because under the VFA, particularly the provision on jurisdiction, if a crime has been committed, number one: within Philippine territory, and number two: is declared to be a crime under Philippine law, automatically jurisdiction belongs to the Philippines," she said.

Santiago admitted, however, that upon "mere request" by the US, the Philippines is required to turn over the custody of American military personnel.

Human rights lawyer Harry Roque filed a murder complaint with the Olongapo City Prosecutor's Office late Wednesday against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton from the 2nd Battalion 9th Marines for the death of Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, who was found lifeless in a lodge room, last the weekend.

Roque told the STAR that Laude's family will seek the transfer of Pemberton to Manila. The soldier is currently detained aboard the USS Peleliu docked at Subic Bay Free Port after participating in bilateral exercises last week.

EDUARDO OBAN HARRY ROQUE OLONGAPO CITY OLONGAPO CITY PROSECUTOR PRIVATE FIRST CLASS JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON RETIRED GEN SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO SUBIC BAY FREE PORT UNITED STATES VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT
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