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Palace reiterates determination to pursue justice for Jennifer Laude

MANILA - The Palace has reiterated its determination to attain justice in the slaying of a transgender in Olongapo City allegedly committed by an American serviceman.

"Hindi natitinag ang determinasyon ng pamahalaan hinggil sa pagkamit ng hustisya para sa pagkamatay ni Jennifer Laude," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.

"The Philippine government is working closely with the US government to ensure that the ends of justice will be served," Secretary Coloma said.

He said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday morning met with different government agencies, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), which handles the City Prosecutor's Office in Olongapo, to give them an update.

Commenting on calls to abolish the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) as a result of the incident, he said the Palace recognizes the rights of Congress to pursue such initiative, since the legislature is a separate branch of government.

Reporters also asked the Palace official if he thinks the country still needs the VFA despite the incident, and he said that since there is still no law halting its adoption, the agreement will remain part of the country's defense structure.

"Ang VFA ay kasama doon sa istruktura ng ating tanggulang pambansa kaya't ito ay umiiral pa at ito ay sinusundan pa natin sa kasalukuyan," he said.

Coloma also commented on previous discussions on the custody of US soldiers committing offenses in the Philippines, saying that the death of a Filipino citizen is not acceptable and the Philippine government has more reason now to review the defense agreement with the US.

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