Aquino rejects calls to junk Phl-US military pact
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2014 - 8:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Benigno Aquino III today dismissed calls to repeal the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) forged by the country with the United States following the murder of a Filipino transgender allegedly committed by a US Marine.

"Why do we need to abrogate VFA? Name me any place that doesn't have crime," Aquino told reporters in an interview in the central Philippine province of Leyte.

What is important, he said, is for local authorities to be able to gather enough evidence to pin down the perpetrator of the crime so that justice will be served.

The murder of Jeffrey Laude, alias "Jennifer," allegedly committed by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton renewed calls by various groups to abolish the VFA - a pact that allows the presence of US forces in the Philippines.

Aquino, however, made an assurance that Philippine authorities are determined to pursue justice for Laude.

"At the very least, we are making sure, based on the treaty, that Pemberton is available or the suspects are available for investigation in any and all judicial processes," he said.

Under the VFA, the Philippine government has jurisdiction over the case but Washington has custody of an accused US soldier. Manila could, however, request for custody of a suspect.  


 

AQUINO JEFFREY LAUDE JENNIFER LEYTE PEMBERTON PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO PRIVATE FIRST CLASS JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON UNITED STATES VISITING FORCES AGREEMENT XINHUA
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