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The US Embassy in Manila is working closely with Philippine authorities in identifying the suspect in the killing of a transgender woman in Olongapo City over the weekend amid allegations the foreign companion the victim was last seen with may be a US national.
In a statement aired on GMA News TV's News to Go on Monday, the US Embassy sent its condolences to the family and friends of the victim, who was found dead inside the Celzone Lodge in Barangay East Tapinac Saturday night.
“We are aware of the situation and express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We are also aware that there are allegations that a foreigner, including possibly a US national, was involved in the incident. We are currently looking into these allegations and working closely with the PNP (Philippine National Police) to take all necessary steps to help identify the suspects,” it said.
A team from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) joined the police Sunday in inspecting the crime scene and was also present during the victim’s autopsy.
NCIS is a US federal law enforcement agency tasked with investigating actual or suspected major criminal offenses involving the Navy and Marine Corps.
US Marine in custody
Meanwhile, a Marine Corps Times report posted Sunday night said a US Marine has been placed in custody on board the amphibious assault ship Peleliu in connection with the incident.
An internal Navy memo obtained by Marine Corps Times said the Marine is assigned to the Light Infantry 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The unit has been deployed to the Philippines as part of the annual Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX), a joint military exercise between Manila and Washington scheduled from September 29 to October 10.
Three of the Marine’s companions from the same unit have been detained aboard the ship since they have been tagged as potential witnesses, the same report said.
Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino said in a television report the incident occurred on the same day the Peleliu docked in Subic Bay. US authorities have reportedly locked down the ship to ensure no servicemen will be able to escape.
The Marine Corps Times said the ship’s port call is scheduled until Tuesday. — Xianne Arcangel/RSJ, GMA News