MANILA – The camp of slain transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude apparently does not have a say in determining the place of detention of US Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, former Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano emphasized Wednesday.
Justiniano said Laude’s camp cannot question where Pemberton would be detained nor can file contempt charges against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission.
“I sympathize with them, but then the question is, do they have the personality to question the place of detention? Criminal prosecution should be under the direction and control of the public prosecutor, meaning the city prosecutor of Olongapo and under the DOJ,” he said.
Laude’s camp earlier said they are considering their legal options after Pemberton’s camp refused to turn over the US soldier to Philippine authorities following his homicide conviction by the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 on Tuesday.
Justiniano, who was consulted when the Foreign Affairs department and the US Embassy discussed Pemberton’s detention in the event of a conviction, added that the Philippine government is duty-bound to abide by the VFA.
“I agree that this is a diminution of our sovereignty, but that’s the principle in international law. When you enter into a treaty, you surrender part of your sovereign right,” he said.
Under the agreement, Justiniano said Pemberton must be detained in a facility mutually-agreed upon by the US and the Philippines.
“My understanding from the media is that the place mentioned was the AFP custodial center or any other similar place of detention. Now, according to the camp of Laude, this is vague because the agreement did not specify exactly where Pemberton should be detained. But then I don’t think this is vague. If it is true, then the unmentioned is the AFP custodial center. The question is, is there really an AFP custodial center? If there is, then he should be placed there pursuant to the agreement, or is disjunctive. It only means that if there is no such place then find another place,” he said.
“If we insist that he be detained at the national penitentiary, then we must get the consent of the US government pursuant to the VFA. But from the actuation of the US government, they don’t agree that he be placed in the national penitentiary. So they insist that we implement the VFA and what is the place mutually agreed upon? Camp Aguinaldo or the AFP custodial detention center,” he added.
In 2005, Justiniano served as a counsel for US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted over the Subic rape case.
Smith was transferred from the Makati City Jail to a US controlled facility.