The four American witnesses to the killing of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City, Zambales, allegedly by an American serviceman have left the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said this was the information gathered by the department from the US Embassy in Manila.
“The DFA was not informed by the US that the four witnesses were leaving the country. They [embassy]are not required to do so,” Jose added.
The unidentified witnesses are believed to be members of the US Marine Corps.
Jose explained that investigation will proceed despite the absence of the four Americans today at the Prosecutor’s Office in Olongapo City since “they have already satisfied the legal requirements.”
“Moreover, the US has given assurances that they will make available the witnesses at the trial,” he said.
A murder complaint was filed by the Laude family against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.
It was not known, however, if he will attend the preliminary probe of the case by the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office.
But Jose said Pemberton’s legal counsel should advise him to attend the preliminary investigation.
“If that [non-appearance] is to his detriment, then that is the risk he is taking. It would be good if his counsel will ask him to appear,” he added.
Jose, however, admitted that Pemberton’s non-appearance will not be a violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement because it is within the parameters of the Philippine criminal justice system to give freedom to the respondent to present himself or not in a preliminary investigation.
Also on Monday, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago asked the Department of Justice to allow the two Filipino witnesses to appear and testify during the scheduled Senate inquiry into the case on Wednesday.
In a letter addressed to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Santiago said Mark Clarence Gelviro aka “Barbie” and Elias Galamos should attend the hearing to be conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.