BAGUIO CITY (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court sought the side of Malacanang, the military, and the Department of Foreign Affairs on a petition seeking to transfer murder suspect US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton from Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to the Olongapo City Jail.
The SC, in an en banc summer session here, ordered respondents in the petition filed by Laude’s sisters to submit a comment “within 10 days from notice on the petition for certiorari.”
Apart from Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, AFP chief Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, also named respondents in the petition were Judge Roline Jinez-Jabalde of the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74, Pemberton, and Olongapo City Chief State Prosecutor Emilie delos Santos.
In their petition, Marilou and Mesehilda Laude asked the high tribunal to reverse two orders from Judge Jabalde denying their request to transfer Pemberton from an American military facility inside Camp Aguinaldo, to a city jail.
The petitioners said Jabalde committed grave abuse of discretion when, on technicaliries, she dismissed a request to compel the Armed Forces of the Philippines to surrender custody of Pemberton the Olongapo City Jail.
They also said that under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the Philippines should have primary jurisdiction over Pemberton while his case is being tried by a Philippine court.
Jabalde denied the Laude family’s urgent motion for violating the three-day rule under Section 4, Rule 15 and Sec. 5, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court, requiring the conformity of the public prosecutor in any pleading filed by a private complainant.
The Laudes asked the SC to order the respondents to “immediately work out and effect” Pemberton’s turnover while he is being tried for murder by the Olongapo court.
The Laudes said the Philippine government’s refusal to have Pemberton transferred to a city jail was “unconstitutional on the ground that it undermines the constitutional powers of courts to hear a jurisdictional matter brought before it.”
“More importantly, it undermines the court’s powers to promulgate rules for the practice of law,” the petitioners said.
Pemberton is accused of killing 26-year-old Laude, who was found dead inside a lodge in Olongapo City on Oct. 11, 2014. The two were last seen entering the room after meeting in a bar.
Pemberton was earlier transferred from the US Navy ship USS Peleliu docked in Subic to a US facility in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The killing of Laude revived anti-US sentiments, including calls for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.
The VFA, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, allows American troops to take part in large-scale military exercises with their Philippine counterparts in the country. (MNS)