The Philippines could lose custody of U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal and homicide convict Joseph Scott Pemberton, if the government cancels the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Senator Imee Marcos said.
The VFA gives the Philippines legal jurisdiction over American military personnel who commit crimes under the country’s laws.
“Baka matuwa pa nga ang U.S. pag nawala na ang VFA kasi pwede pa rin naman pumasok ang mga tropang Amerikano sa bansa natin dahil sa Mutual Defense Treaty at EDCA, pero wala nang hawak ang Pilipinas sa mga kasong kriminal kung mangyari man,” Marcos said.
“Kung walang VFA, babalik tayo sa international law at batas ng bansa kung saan galing ang mga tropang dayuhan ang mangingibabaw,” Marcos explained.
The U.S. may demand that Pemberton be freed before he could serve his minimum jail sentence, if the VFA is ended before December 2021 or less than six years after his conviction, Marcos also said.
Pemberton was convicted and sentenced to six to 12 years in prison on December 1, 2015 for the 2014 motel killing of transgender Jennifer Laude.
“Baka makaswerte pa ulit si Pemberton. Wala na nga siya sa ordinaryong kulungan, baka maiklian pa ang kanyang sentensya. Dagdag-sakit para sa pamilya ni Jennifer,” Marcos said.
Pemberton is detained at Camp Aguinaldo under the watch of Philippine and American military personnel and is appealing his conviction on the grounds of self-defense.
Instead of junking the VFA, Marcos said that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) should be ended because it allows the U.S. military to skirt the constitutional ban on foreign bases in the Philippines and makes the country a potential target of America’s adversaries.
Amid tensions in the Middle East and the South China Sea, the EDCA binds the country to hosting U.S. military troops and storing their defense equipment, Marcos explained. SENATE.GOV.PH