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Manila: 5 Marines accused of rape

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U.S. Marines on exercise in the Philippines.

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Philippines
Marines
Sex Crimes
Alberto Romulo

(CNN) -- The Philippines government will investigate and prosecute to the fullest five U.S. Marines who are accused of raping a Filipino woman earlier this week, the nation's secretary of foreign affairs said Thursday.

"The perpetrators of this heinous crime shall be brought to justice," Alberto Romulo, the Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs, said in a written statement.

"Philippine authorities are currently investigating this crime and we shall pursue this matter with vigor and in accordance with our laws and treaty obligations."

The government has asked the U.S. Embassy in Manila not to allow the five Marines to leave the country and to make the accused "available to Philippine police, investigative and judicial authorities."

Details of the alleged rape were not immediately released.

The United States has forces participating in counterterrorism measures in the Philippines on a rotating basis. The five accused Marines were in the country under the responsibility of the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. Defense Department and State Department had no immediate comment.

The U.S. Embassy in Manila issued a statement confirming that the five Marines were allegedly "involved in the rape of a Filipina citizen."

The alleged rape is said to have occurred in Subic, an area about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Manila.

Names not released

The five Marines, whose names were not released, were in the custody of the U.S. Embassy and were not allowed to depart with their ship earlier Thursday, Romulo said.

The U.S. Embassy, citing the Visiting Forces Agreement, said both U.S. and Filipino authorities would "work together to determine the facts of the case and to ensure that accused individuals are available to both Filipino and U.S. investigators."

"The U.S. takes reports of violations of U.S. and Philippine law by U.S. personnel very seriously, and will fully cooperate with the Philippine authorities in the investigation of this incident," the embassy said.

Romulo said he had been briefed by the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission (VFACOM) and he was "deeply concerned by this report."

"I have instructed the VFACOM to fully assist the victim of this crime and to support all efforts by our authorities to investigate, prosecute and try this case," he said.

He also said he had instructed the commission to make immediate recommendations on "additional measures that will help prevent any repetition of this sad and tragic incident."

"Philippine authorities are currently investigating this crime and we shall pursue this matter with vigor and in accordance with our laws and treaty obligations," Romulo said.

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