Thursday, October 16, 2014

Palace: PHL reviewed VFA but failed to amend treaty

From GMA News (Oct 16): Palace: PHL reviewed VFA but failed to amend treaty

The Philippines reviewed the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US as early during the first year of the Aquino administration but failed to get any change done in its provisions until the death of a over the weekend of Filipino transgender woman allegedly in the hands of an American soldier, MalacaƱang said on Thursday.

At a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government was able to finish the VFA review and convey its results to US officials.

"Naisagawa ang review na iyon. Nakipag-ugnayan ang ating pamahalaan sa pamahalaan ng Estados Unidos, at sa pagsasagawa nito ay hindi humantong sa anumang pormal na kasunduan hinggil sa pagbabago ng anumang probisyon at ang reyalidad ay inabutan po ito nitong kasalukuyang kaganapan.," Coloma told reporters.
Coloma, however, said that he did not have specific details on the VFA review and on the discussions with US authorities.

The review was conducted by the Presidential Commission on the VFA, chaired by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Undersecretary Edilberto Adan.
Asked if the VFA provision on custody of US soldiers who commit crime on the Philippine soil was tackled, Coloma replied, "It was addressed and it is still being addressed because of the new development that has arisen."
The communications secretary was referring to the killing of 26-year-old Filipina transgender Jeffrey Laude, who also used the name Jennifer. 
A US Marine, identified as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, is now the subject of a murder complaint in connection with the incident.
The VFA, signed by the Philippines with the US in 1998, provided for the resumption of  bilateral military exercises between the two parties and their enhanced defense cooperation. 
The agreement also stated that a US soldier participating in military exercises who committed a crime on Philippine soil will be under the jurisdiction of the Philippines, but will be kept under the custody of the US.
Back in 2011, presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda said the administration was reviewing the jurisdiction provision of the VFA.

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