MANILA - "News not quite right," US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said Sunday, referring to reports that the United States would produce a US Marine suspected of killing a transgender Filipino and four other servicemen wanted as witnesses by investigators.
Goldberg tweeted that under the bilateral Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the United States will make the suspect available, but whether the suspect appears in court is for his lawyer to decide.
"We continue to fully cooperate and collaborate with Philippine authorities in all aspects of the case concerning the death of [Jeffrey "Jennifer"] Laude," he said.
Goldberg said the United States would continue to work closely with the Philippine government "to ensure justice is served and the rights of all persons are protected."
He said the VFA made possible "close coordination between the United States and Philippine authorities in investigating Jennifer Laude's case."
In a statement issued Sunday, the US Embassy said four witnesses gave statements to Philippine prosecutors in the case involving the killing of Laude.
"Last week, city prosecutors met with four witnesses and swore them to their statements in accordance with Philippine law," the embassy said.
The embassy cited this as another sign of its continued cooperation in the controversial case.
"The witnesses will be made available for the trial," the statement said.
The statement did not say who the witnesses were, but Philippine authorities had previously said they wanted to question four US Marines who are believed to have witnessed the killing of Laude.
Another US Marine, Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, is being investigated over the death of Laude, described by local police as a transgender sex worker.
Olongapo City Prosecutor Emelie de los Santos and Eduardo de Vega of the legal department of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handed a subpoena to US Embassy officials in Manila on Friday for the appearance of Pemberton and the four other Marines in the preliminary investigation on Tuesday.
But the embassy said the four other Marines would no longer have to appear on Tuesday as their statements had already been obtained.
It stressed that "whether the suspect will appear on Tuesday is a decision that he will make in consultation with his Philippine legal counsel, in accordance with Philippine law."
Asked whether the four witnesses were still in the Philippines, US Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer replied: "They are not here anymore."