MANILA, Philippines — Two United States Navy warships were locked down Monday after an American Marine was confirmed to have been detained for the killing of a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City.
The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu and amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown have been docked at the Subic Bay Freeport since September 27 for the US-Philippines Amphibious Landing Exercise, or PHIBLEX.
READ: US marine detained in slay of Olongapo transgender
Former Armed Forces chief Eduardo Oban Jr, chairman of the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, said in radio reports that the lock down was ordered as the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service started its probe on the incident.
Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, also ordered the ships to stay in Philippine waters for an indefinite period, Oban said.
The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, is leading the investigation.
Following reports from a foreign publication, the US Embassy in Manila also confirmed on Monday that the still unidentified serviceman was held as suspect for the asphyxiation and killing of 26-year-old Jeffrey Laude, whose body was found in a lodge last Saturday.
The Marine is reportedly detained aboard USS Peleliu.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila vowed that Washington will “continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation.”
Three other soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine unit were held in custody as possible witnesses to the crime.
By Camille Diola (The Philippine Star)