Pemberton Detained in Camp Aguinaldo but Still under US Custody, US Embassy Says

US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, suspect in the killing of transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City, was detained in Camp Aguinaldo Wednesday morning.

The 19-year-old Marine was flown to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters from the warship USS Peleliu onboard a helicopter. At 8:45 in the morning, he arrived at the camp in handcuffs and was held briefly inside an air-conditioned container van.

AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. told reporters at yesterday’s press briefing that Pemberton will be detained at the Mutual Defense Board Security Engagement Facility inside the camp while the preliminary investigation is ongoing.

“He will be sleeping in a military-type camp bed (in a room) with an air-conditioned system,” he said.

However, the US Embassy maintained that Pemberton is still under US custody despite being detained inside the AFP headquarters.

“The US Embassy in Manila is aware of reports that an individual allegedly involved in the October 11 death of Jennifer [also known as “Jeffrey”] Laude was moved from the USS Peleliu to Camp Aguinaldo, a Philippine military base located in Quezon City where the suspect will be held under US custody,” the embassy said in a statement.

“In accordance with the US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement [VFA], the United States has a right to retain custody of a suspect from the commission of the alleged offense until completion of all judicial proceedings,” it added.

“The VFA is a key part of that relationship, and the United States plans to continue to work closely with the Philippine government to help ensure justice is served and the rights of all persons are protected,” the statement said.

Gen. Catapang, however, clarified that Pemberton is “technically” in the custody of Philippine authorities because he is detained in a Philippine military camp and guarded by Filipino soldiers.

“It will be joint security. What will happen is inside the container van there will be one US soldier and then outside the container van, there will be another US soldier, and on the gate beside the container van will be two MP of the Armed Forces and then on the rolling gate outside, there will be another two MP,” he said.