JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra said President Rodrigo Duterte acted on his own when he granted absolute pardon to former US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton who was convicted for killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.
In a message to reporters, Guevarra explained that the grant of executive clemency is the President’s constitutional prerogative that can be exercised anytime and under any circumstance.
“From where I was sitting this afternoon (Monday) at the presidential residence, I saw that the President’s decision to grant pardon to Pemberton was solely his own. No one prompted it. The President simply felt that it was not Pemberton’s fault that there was no way of recording his behavior in a military detention center all alone by himself.”
“So since there were no reports of misbehavior, the presumption of good conduct was on his side. I stated that granting executive clemency was the President’s constitutional prerogative,” Guevarra said.
On Monday night, Guevarra defended the President’s decision to pardon Pemberton.
“Pardon is an act of grace on the part of the Chief Executive. He may exercise this plenary power of executive clemency at anytime and under any circumstance,” Guevarra said, adding that he was consulted by the President before pardoning Pemberton.
The Olongapo City regional trial court ordered the release of Pemberton on Wednesday.
This as the court granted Pemberto’s bid for release after serving 10 years, one month, and 10 days that included his good conduct time allowance.
The court also noted that Pemberton has already paid in full the monetary damages to slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude’s family amounting to P4. 6 million.
Prior to his release, Pemberton served five years and eight months of his original sentence of 10 years. But because of the good conduct time allowance rule, 1,548 days or more than four years were credited to him, hence, Pemberton accumulated 10 years, one month, and 10 days.
Recently, the Supreme Court granted Pemberton’s motion withdrawing his petition for review seeking to overturn his conviction.
Pemberton asked the high court to review the Court of Appeal’s decision affirming the ruling of conviction handed down by the Olongapo City RTC.