Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago Plans To Investigate Murder Of Filipino Transgender Woman

MANILA - On Wednesday, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago said she intends to investigate the alleged murder of a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City by a United States marine.

Santiago, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, stated the inquiry will be managed in aid of legislation on October 22.

According to news report, the senator stated that she will invite police officials assigned to the case, the victims’ family members and friends, and the staff of the hotel on duty when the Filipino and the American soldier arrived and rented a room at the hotel.

“Paimbestigahan ko nga ‘yan,” she stated on a media interview on Wednesday.

“I can open it and I can start the hearing as long as I comply with the three-day notice rule. I have to give them notice in three days’ time.”

While the committee does not have the ability to invite or subpoena foreign officials, Santiago revealed she may include witnesses and law enforcers to the probe.

On Saturday, Jennifer Laude, 26, was found dead inside the hotel in Olongapo City where she checked into with the American soldier.

The suspect was identified yesterday as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marine Corps 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Santiago said the Philippines has jurisdiction of case but the US will have custody of its accused personnel.

Santiago, who has always been against the VFA, reasonably believe that Laude’s murder and a 2006 rape case involving an American soldier-whom the appellate court later acquitted-are enough reasons to scrap the agreement.

The senator said that in the meantime, the government must assert its jurisdiction over the case and fight for custody of the suspect, Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

She stated that Pemberton’s case should be turned over to Philippines authorities and must be detained in a Philippine jail.

“I will insist that under the terms of the VFA itself, which was properly negotiated between the two parties involved, automatically we acquire jurisdiction,” said Santiago.