Senate president demands change to Philippine-US treaty

Franklin Drilon says Visiting Forces Agreement must be reviewed after US refuses to hand over murder suspect

Senate president demands change to Philippine-US treaty

World Bulletin/News Desk

The president of the Philippine’s senate Thursday called for the controversial Visiting Forces Agreement to be amended after the U.S. refused to hand over an alleged murderer to Philippine custody.

Franklin Drilon spoke out after the U.S. rejected a Philippine request for custody of U.S. marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, charged this week with the murder of a transgender woman.

In an interview with DZBB radio station, Drilon said: “In my view, the Philippines must initiate a request for the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement and, because of what is happening, let us start a negotiation.

“My wish is that the VFA provision on detention and custody should be amended because it no longer jibes with the [Philippine] revised penal code as well as the rules of procedure.”

Pemberton is currently being held at a U.S. facility inside the Philippine Army's headquarters in Manila, where he is guarded by U.S. military personnel. He was initially held on a U.S. warship.

Calling for a renegotiation of the agreement, which allows the U.S. to retain custody of American service personnel accused of a crime until judicial proceedings are completed, Drilon said: "I think this is now the time for the Department of Foreign Affairs to take the opportunity to propose a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement."

The Philippine government has expressed concern over the U.S. refusal to hand over Pemberton.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “We are disappointed that the U.S. has chosen to invoke their rights under the Visiting Forces Agreement to maintain custody of the accused.”

The government had asked the U.S. to waive custody over Pemberton, the prime suspect in the killing of 26-year-old Jeffrey Laude, known as Jennifer, who was found dead at a Olongapo City motel on Oct. 11.

After the request was rejected, the government said it expected the U.S. to ensure Pemberton is made available for the investigation and court appearances.

Drilon said he was “saddened” by the U.S. refusal to hand over Pemberton. “Its interpretation of the VFA is too technical,” he added. “There were no other considerations. They ignored the wish of the Laude family.”


Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Aralık 2014, 13:04