MANILA (Mabuhay) — US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, the suspect in the killing of transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, was transferred on Wednesday to a facility inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo after the United States allowed the move.
A helicopter carrying Pemberton landed at Camp Aguinaldo at 8:45 a.m., AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said.
AFP received custody of Pemberton at 8:45 a.m., and he will be detained in a 20-footer air-conditioned container van inside the camp while the preliminary investigation of his murder case is ongoing, Catapang told reporters.
“He will be detained at the Mutual Defense Board Security Engagement Facility inside the camp while the preliminary investigation is ongoing,” he said.
“He will be sleeping in a military-type camp bed with an air-conditioned system,” he said.
But when asked if Pemberton will be allowed to use a mobile phone, he said they may still discuss the matter.
Catapang said it will be up to the court to decide on the appropriate detention facility once a case has been filed against the accused.
Among the AFP officials seen in the area was Visiting Forces Agreement Commission head and former AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban.
Catapang said Pemberton arrived at Camp Aguinaldo from his temporary detention facility aboard a US warship in Subic. Pemberton was handcuffed when he was brought to Camp Aguinaldo.
Pemberton faces a murder complaint for the killing of Laude earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Pemberton was a no-show in the preliminary investigation into the murder complaint lodged against him before the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office despite the subpoena served by the Philippine government to the US Embassy last Oct. 17 ordering him to submit a counter-affidavit.
His lawyers said Pemberton is allowed within 10 days under Philippine criminal case procedures to submit an affidavit within 10 days upon receipt of the subpoena.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the US government will maintain custody over Pemberton, who will be guarded by a US security detail in Camp Aguinaldo.
The arrangement for Pemberton’s transfer was made by the US Embassy in Manila and the DFA, Jose said.
Prior to his transfer to Camp Aguinaldo, Pemberton was held aboard the American warship USS Peleliu, which was barred by US Pacific Commander Admiral Samuel Locklear from leaving the country until the investigation against the US Marine is completed.
The involvement of Pemberton in Laude’s death has sparked strong opposition in the Philippines from the LGBT community and human rights, left-wing and women’s groups. It has been an irritant in the blossoming security ties between the Philippines and the US, which signed a new defense pact in April that will allow greater American military access in the country.
Pemberton is the second US serviceman to be implicated in a crime in the Philippines since 2005, when another US Marine was convicted of raping a Filipino woman also in Olongapo. An appeals court dismissed the case after the victim recanted her testimony.
The new incident involving Pemberton likewise revived anti-US sentiments across the country with several groups and lawmakers calling for the abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement—a bilateral defense agreement that allows American troops to train with their Filipino counterparts in the country. (MNS)