PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he is not favoring convicted US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton by giving him an absolute pardon.
“Sabi ko, ‘It’s my decision to pardon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but ito ang tingin ko sa kaso. You have not treated Pemberton fairly so i-release ko. Pardon.’ Eh ang pardon walang maka-question niyan,” he said in a taped public address.
Duterte made this remark just hours before Malacañang confirmed that Pemberton, who was convicted for the death of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, was granted an absolute pardon.
“It’s not because of that that I pardoned Pemberton. But you know if there is a time where you are called upon to be fair, be fair, be fair,” he added.
He clarified that he granted Pemberton absolute pardon because he believed that he was not treated “fairly” while detained because his good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits were not recorded by Philippine authorities.
According to Duterte, the government did not know what “factors” would contribute to deciding on whether or not Pemberton’s GCTA credits should be computed from the time he was detained facing trial, or if it should start after his sentencing for homicide.
He said there was no record of Pemberton’s detainment when he was held at the Marines garrison, noting that it was not the job of Marines to watch over him at that time.
“Ang Marines never kept a record of the — hindi trabaho ng Marines ‘yan na magbantay kasi hindi ‘yan sila o taga-Muntinlupa,” he said.
Duterte said there was no way to tell Pemberton’s behavior while detained on trial.
“Ang problema nito ganito, sinong magsabi ngayon na noong detinado siya nagkakalat siya sa loob, sumisigaw siya o sinisira niya, he destroys things? Wala eh. Kasi walang listahan. Wala namang nakalagay doon because wala talaga,” he said.
He said it was not Pemberton’s fault that his GCTA was not recorded.
“So it is not the fault of Pemberton na hindi na na-compute,” he said.
He said the Marines could have reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ) if he was misbehaving, but they did not.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who was the Laude family’s legal counsel, said that granting absolute pardon cleared the issue on whether or not Pemberton was entitled to GCTA.
“Ibig sabihin po niyan makalalaya na po si Pemberton. Wala na pong issue kung siya ay entitled sa GCTA (good conduct time allowance), wala na pong issue kung applicable ba sa kanya yung batas dahil hindi siya nakulong sa national penitentiary,” he said.
He, however, said it does not erase the fact that Pemberton is still a “murderer.”
“Binura na po ng Presidente kung ano pa yung parusa na dapat ipapataw kay Pemberton. Ang hindi po nabura ng Presidente, ‘yung conviction ni Pemberton. Mamamatay tao pa rin po siya ,” he said.
Pemberton was convicted of homicide on Dec. 1, 2015, for killing Laude in 2014.
– Philippine News Agency