From the Manila Times (Jan 30, 2020): Palace: PH won’t lose convicted US soldier in transgender slay sans VFA (By Catherine S. Valente)
MALACAÑANG is confident that the Philippines will retain its jurisdiction over the case of an American soldier convicted of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude even after the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US) is formally terminated.
Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said that the termination of the agreement would not have an impact on the conviction of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who is currently detained at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
“We acquired jurisdiction over him (Pemberton) and therefore, the jurisdiction remains. You must remember that the VFA states that we cannot acquire jurisdiction unless of particular importance and we already did that,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
“Hence, logic will tell us that the termination of VFA will not affect the acquisition of jurisdiction by the Philippine courts,” he added.
The Olongapo Regional Trial Court in 2015 found Pemberton guilty of killing Laude. The American soldier was sentenced to serve a jail term of up to six years.
Former Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr., also legal counsel of the Laude family, pushed for the transfer of Pemberton to the state penitentiary.
“Now that the President has terminated the VFA, Pemberton, who is currently under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Corrections (BoC) and allegedly detained in a golden cage in Aguinaldo, should now be transferred forthwith to Muntinlupa to be in the company of his fellow killers such as the Ampatuans,” Roque said in a statement.
“I call on the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to exercise vigilance as US authorities will definitely attempt to spirit him out of the country to prevent his detention in Muntinlupa where he truly belongs,” he added.