Joseph Scott Pemberton, a suspect in the killing of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, was detained in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Wednesday, but the US Embassy maintained that the US keeps custody of the US Marine.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gregorio Pio Catapang, however, said Pemberton is “technically” in the custody of Philippine authorities because he is inside a Philippine military camp and guarded by Filipino soldiers.
Camp Aguinaldo is the national headquarters of the AFP.
Pemberton was flown to Camp Aguinaldo at 8:45 a.m. from the USS Peleliu that is docked in Subic Bay and shortly was held inside an air-conditioned container van. He will be jointly secured by US Marines and Filipino Military Police (MP).
“It will be joint security. What will happen is inside the container van there will be one US soldier and then outside the container van, there will be another US soldier, and on the gate beside the container van will be two MP of the Armed Forces and then on the rolling gate outside, there will be another two MP,” Catapang said.
“He will be detained in a 20-footer [28-cubic-meter] van that was installed inside the facility and he will be sleeping in a military-type cot bed with an air-conditioning system,” he told reporters.
The container van sits inside the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MTB-SEB) compound in Camp Aguinaldo.
But the US Embassy, in a statement, said Pemberton is still under US custody even if he is detained inside the AFP General Headquarters.
“The US Embassy in Manila is aware of reports that an individual allegedly involved in the October 11 death of Jennifer [also known as "Jeffrey”]Laude was moved from the USS Peleliu to Camp Aguinaldo, a Philippine military base located in Quezon City where the suspect will be held under US custody,” it added.
“In accordance with the US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement [V[VFA]the United States has a right to retain custody of a suspect from the commission of the alleged offense until completion of all judicial proceedings,” the statement said.
It added that the bilateral and military alliance between Washington and Manila “is strong.”
“The VFA is a key part of that relationship, and the United States plans to continue to work closely with the Philippine government to help ensure justice is served and the rights of all persons are protected,” the embassy said.
It also gave assurances that the US will continue to work closely with the Philippine government to help ensure justice is served and the rights of all persons are protected.
Catapang said the 19-year-old Pemberton had to be held inside the air-conditioned facility because the container van will be unbearably hot without an air-conditioning unit. He added that they still have to discuss if Pemberton will be allowed other amenities such as cellphone and laptop.
According to Catapang, the decision to detain Pemberton inside the camp was mutually agreed by the US and Philippine governments through their embassies.
“The court will decide on the appropriate detention facility once a case has been filed against the accused,” he said.