No shore leave at Subic Bay while murder case against Marine is pending
Sailors on ships docked at Subic Bay won’t get shore leave while authorities determine the fate of a Marine accused of a slaying there.
“In consideration of recent events in Olongapo City, the United States has temporarily restricted shore leave for… U.S. forces [visiting] the Subic Bay area,” according to an official at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been in custody in the Philippines for almost a month, is suspected of involvement in the death of Jeffrey Laude, 26, a transgender person also known as Jennifer whose body was found Oct. 11 in a motel bathroom.
The death, which prompted protests from family members and anti-American activists, comes at a crucial time for U.S.-Filipino relations as the countries prepare to implement an agreement that will see thousands of U.S. troops rotate through bases in the Philippines over the next decade.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority chairman Robert Garcia told the AFP news agency earlier this month that nine U.S. Navy ships had canceled visits to the port. Ships were still scheduled to visit for emergency repairs, but crews wouldn’t be allowed ashore, he said.
Cmdr. William Marks, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, said Thursday that no “announced visits” to the Philippines had been canceled.
“USNS Mary Sears has been at Subic Bay and just left, and the USNS Henson (an oceanic survey ship) just arrived yesterday,” he said.
Port visits are often not confirmed until a week or even a few days before a ship arrives, Marks said.
“…to say that all port visits have been canceled for the next two months is not accurate,” he said. “We just do not have any confirmed port visits to the Philippines right now. Of course port visits of U.S. Navy ships to the Philippines is a key part of the U.S.-Philippine alliance so we’re always looking for opportunities to get our ships there.”
The embassy official, who asked not to be identified, said many factors that go into arranging port calls and that schedules of a particular ship can change for a variety of reasons.
“The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Pacific Command are working together to review each port call to ensure U.S. service members still have an opportunity to visit the Philippines and experience the food, culture and strong historic ties between our two countries,” the official said.
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