MANILA – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Wednesday said American serviceman Scott Pemberton should be transferred to a city jail after a court in Olongapo City issued a warrant of arrest for allegedly killing a Filipino transgender last October.
”Normally, any person who has been formally accused in court goes to city jail. So Pemberton should go there,” Santiago said in media interview.
Santiago said she supports the government’s request for custody of Pemberton who is now detained at the Camp Aguinaldo with fellow US servicemen providing security for him.
”Our view of the Visiting Forces Agreement is that after a warrant of arrest has been issued, jurisdiction pertains to the Philippine authorities,” Santiago, an international law expert, said.
”Therefore, it is the Philippine government that will determine where the person must be detained,” she emphasized.
Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero urged the DFA to remain true to its word that the Philippine government shall take custody of Pemberton once a warrant of arrest was issued.
“If a warrant of arrest is issued, we will request the US to turn over the serviceman’s custody to us,” Escudero said, quoting DFA Secretary Alberto Del Rosario’s statement in a previous Senate hearing.
He said Del Rosario should make public the US Embassy’s reply and should stand firm to assert the government’s power and authority over Pemberton since he committed a crime here in the country.
Escudero also supported the stand of Santiago to detain Pemberton in an ordinary cell like an ordinary criminal.
Esudero, however, said Pemberton should also be given a fair treatment, and not a VIP treatment, under Philippine laws in the same way Filipinos who committed crimes here are afforded due process.
“Some of our fellow Filipinos were oppressed abroad, why would we put a foreigner on a pedestal and give him special treatment more than the Filipinos in their own land?” Escudero asked.