De Lima insists on PH custody of Pemberton

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima maintains her position that physical custody of United States Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton should rest with Philippine authorities in the wake of the issuance of a warrant for his arrest for the murder of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

De Lima issued the statement following US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg’s pronouncement that the US will retain custody of Pemberton in the course of his trial.

“I maintain my position na the Philippines will insist, the Philippine government will ask for, and insist on his custody na may warrant of arrest na. Pero that is something that’s being worked on already by the VFA Commission… halos araw araw nagmimiting sila ngayon how to handle that, palagi silang in touch with their counterparts sa US embassy and try to come up with a mutually acceptable solution to this impasse,” she said.

The justice chief said that the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission, will continue to push for custody in spite of the initial refusal by the US.

De Lima said the problem lies in certain “vague” provisions of the VFA which may be “subject to various interpretations” and the absence of a set of implementing guidelines for the agreement.

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