Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Philippine, U.S. governments will follow VFA in dealing with Olongapo murder

The governments of the Philippines and the United States will follow the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in seeking justice for the murder of a Filipino allegedly by an American serviceman in Olongapo City.

"Susundin po ang mga detalyadong proseso ng VFA, na ang pangunahing layunin ay gawaran ng katarungan ang mga krimeng magaganap," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.

The VFA contains specific provisions on the legal processes to ensure that justice will prevail, Secretary Coloma said, assuring that the ongoing investigation will not be whitewashed.

On the treatment of American soldiers committing offenses in the Philippines, Coloma cited Article 5 of the VFA on criminal jurisdiction.

Article 5, Paragraph 1(a) states that “Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines.”

Article 5, Paragraph 6 meanwhile states that the “custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with United States military authorities, if they so request, from the commission of the offense until completion of all judicial proceedings.”

He noted that the aspect of criminal jurisdiction is different from the aspect of custody.

Coloma said that in the meantime, they will wait for the Philippine National Police, as the lead agency of the Philippine government, to announce the details of the investigation, which also involves the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

Initial reports point to a US serviceman as the suspect in the killing of a transgender in a lodge in Olongapo City on Saturday night (Oct. 11).

Police have identified the victim as Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, 26, of Barangay (village) West Tapinac, Olongapo City.

Laude's body was found inside a comfort room, with his head slumped in the toilet bowl. Police said Laude could have been strangled to death. (PCOO News Release)

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