MANILA, Philippines – There are “higher interests” than what may be a “damaging” relationship between the country and the United States over the custody of Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, tagged as suspect in the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, former President Fidel V. Ramos said on Thursday.
“You know on that issue, although it’s serious for all of us, must not be the cause for the damage of Philippine-US relations, because there are higher interests,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the 79th anniversary rites of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Camp Aguinaldo.
“I’m sorry for the family and I’m sorry also for the US side, but in this case, it must be our higher interests. The higher interests are Philippine interests, because we are right on site, we are on the battlefield, we are the victims of bullying by, hindi ko na sasabihin, mabuhay ang Pilipinas,” Ramos said.
Ramos was obviously referring to China that is seen as a “bully” for its aggressive claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The United States has rejected the demand of the Philippines to have custody of Pemberton and to transfer him to a local jail. The Department of Foreign Affairs has expressed disappointed over the US decision.
The US Marine is currently detained at the Joint US Military Assistance Group at Camp Aguinaldo, but is secured by US personnel.
Based on the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US has the right to keep Pemberton while the trial is ongoing.
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