Where should Pemberton be detained?

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — On Tuesday (December 1), the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court is expected to render judgement on U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton — the suspect in the murder of Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude.

The court will determine — in case Pemberton is convicted — where he will serve his sentence.

The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States provides that a convicted American soldier like Pemberton must be held in a facility mutually agreed on by both countries.

Analyst and international studies professor Renato De Castro said on Monday (November 30) that a detention facility dedicated to American servicemen accused of crimes in the Philippines must be built.

This is to prevent diplomatic issues between the Philippines and the United States whenever custodial concerns are raised.

"The Philippines would probably provide the lot. The U.S. will build the facilities. And both parties would spend for the resources to operate that facility," De Castro said.

During the 2005 Subic rape case, suspect Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was convicted and was detained at the Makati City Jail, something the U.S. government was not happy about.

After a few days, Smith was transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Known as the Romulo-Kenney Agreements, the Philippine and United States governments agreed that Smith should remain in U.S. custody "until completion of all judicial proceedings" including any appeal process.

The Supreme Court eventually declared the Romulo-Kenney Agreements not in conformity with the VFA and ordered the Philippine government to renegotiate with the U.S. government to find a detention facility under Philippine authorities.

"For one reason or the other, it never materialized. But this is not new. Probably it's time for the two parties to come up with a detention facility for American servicemen who have been accused or convicted in Philippine court," De Castro noted.

De Castro added that the Supreme Court might still be waiting for the verdict on Pemberton's case before coming up with a decision on the constitutionality of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Aside from frequent military exercises, EDCA allows US troops to build facilities and store equipment in agreed sites within Philippine military bases.

Pemberton was a participant in last year's Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (Phiblex).

"Everyone is expecting the Supreme Court will come up with a ruling before President Obama's visit last week. But it delayed its decision..."

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In light of current developments in the Philippines-United States security relations — particularly on territorial disputes in the South China Sea — De Castro said the retention of good diplomatic relations was vital.

And small differences should not taint an alliance that had lasted for decades.