15 October 2014

Let justice be done, says Aquino

COMMUNICATIONS Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. yesterday said President Aquino wants all government agencies concerned to make sure the killing of a transgender in Olongapo City is solved.

He assured the family of 26-year-old Jeffrey Laude there will be no whitewash.

Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, a member of the US Marine Corps, has been identified s the killer, and is being detained at the USS Peleliu which is docked at Subic Bay.

Coloma acknowledged the concerns of Laude’s family, including their call for speedy investigations.

“Lahat naman po ng pamilya ng mga nagiging biktima ng mga krimen ay naghahangad ng agarang solusyon. Iyon din po ang hangad ng ating pamahalaan. Kalakip na po iyon doon sa pagsasabi that the ends of justice will be served, at hindi po ba may kasabihang ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ Kaya dapat lamang na maging agaran ang paghahanap ng solusyon at paggawad ng katarungan dito,” he said.

Quoting Eduardo Oban, executive director of the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, said the Philippine and US governments have agreed on the importance of a thorough investigation “so that the ends of justice will be served.”

Admiral Samuel Locklear, chief of the US Pacific Command, expressed “regrets” over the killing.

Locklear relayed the message to AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang during the annual Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board meeting held in Camp Aguinaldo. Locklear and Catapang are the co-chairmen of the boards.

“He (Locklear) talked about it. In fact, personally he wants to say his regrets for what has happened, that unfortunate incident,” said Catapang.

“He said that he sympathizes with the family for what had happened, and he wants a full investigation to be conducted by the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigation Service) together with the PNP,” said Catapang, quoting Locklear.

The defense department said the killing is an isolated and tragic incident and that should not undermine future military exercise with US troops and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which was signed last April.

“This is an isolated incident, albeit a tragic one. We call on all concerned not to lose sight of the bigger picture and to look at these—PH-US exercises, EDCA and homicide–as different issues,” said DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez.

Militant congressmen continued to pounce on the EDCA and the VFA, saying the case only proves that concerns over the one-sidedness of the agreements “are not imagined.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the Aquino government should have immediately asserted authority over the custody of US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton. (Jocelyn Montemayor, Malaya)