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GUEVARRA: Pemberton Case Closed

Joseph Scott Pemberton
Former US serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton is turned over to the custody of the Bureau of Immigration. With Pemberton is Atty. Rowena Flores. Photo courtesy of BuCor

LET’S move on.

Thus said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra when he was asked to comment on Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s recent statement that President Rodrigo Duterte likely pardoned former American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton for the country to secure COVID-19 vaccines from the United States.

“I cannot speculate on the President’s motives. He has explained his reason for granting pardon to Mr. Pemberton. For me that’s the end of the story. Let’s move on,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

When asked if Mr. Duterte’s pardon was not fair to the family of transgender woman Jennifer Laude, Guevarra said:

“I consider this matter closed. My sentiments are irrelevant. I defer to the personal judgment of the President on matters within his constitutional prerogative,” Guevarra said.

Recently, Guevarra defended anew Duterte in pardoning Pemberton, saying the populist leader has pardoned hundreds of convicts since he was elected.

“Since the time that the President assumed his position as president, there was something like 139 pardons already,” Guevarra said

“And this is a lot more than the total number of pardons given during the previous administration,” said.

Duterte pardoned Pemberton who was convicted for killing Laude in 2014.

According to Roque, Pemberton can now be released from jail and his good conduct time allowance (GCTA) is no longer an issue.

“Ibig sabihin po niyan, makalalaya na si Pemberton, wala na pong issue kung siya ay entitled sa GCTA, wala na pong issue kung applicable sa kanya yung batas dahil hindi siya nakulong sa national penitentiary. Binura na po ng Presidente kung ano pa yung parusa na dapat ipapataw kay Pemberton,” Roque told reporters.

Last week, the Olongapo City regional trial court has ordered the release of Pemberton.

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.

Also, the court 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 GCTA 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.

Pemberton turned over to BI custody

The Bureau of Corrections yesterday confirmed that the custody over former US serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted for the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude, was transferred to the Bureau of Immigration.

“As of 1150H today (Friday), the custody of Mr. Pemberton has been transferred completely to the BID.”

“BuCor staff assigned as custodial officers at the JUSMAG (Joint US Military Assistance Group) extension facility were now pulled out and reassigned to other facilities. There are no more BuCor officers involved in the custody of Mr. Pemberton,” BuCor said in a media advisory.

Meanwhile, Atty. Rowena Flores, Pemberton’s counsel, stressed that the transfer does not mean that her client will be physically transferred to a BI facility.

“Yung sinasabi na dadalhin, hindi physical yun. Ang ibig lang sabihin ng BuCor, yung mga susunod na proseso, under the Bureau of Immigration na po, hindi na sa kanila,” Flores.

She said that Pemberton will remain in JUSMAG facility in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

President Duterte announced recently that he was pardoning Pemberton who was convicted for killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.

According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Pemberton can now be released from jail and his good conduct time allowance (GCTA) is no longer an issue.

“Ibig sabihin po niyan, makalalaya na si Pemberton, wala na pong issue kung siya ay entitled sa GCTA, wala na pong issue kung applicable sa kanya yung batas dahil hindi siya nakulong sa national penitentiary. Binura na po ng Presidente kung ano pa yung parusa na dapat ipapataw kay Pemberton,” Roque told reporters.

“Ang di po nabura ng Presidente, yung conviction ni Pemberton, mamatay-tao pa rin po siya, pero kung ano yung karagdagang parusa pa, binura na ng Presidente,” he pointed out.

The Olongapo City regional trial court has ordered the release of Pemberton.

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.

Also, the court 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 GCTA rule, 1,548 days or more than four years were credited to him, hence, Pemberton accumulated 10 years, one month, and 10 days.

Duterte’s pardon of the US marine should help the Philippines gain access to coronavirus vaccines being developed by American companies, Roque said Thursday.

“I accept the reality that the president is upholding the higher national interest,” spokesman Harry Roque said, although he insisted he was expressing a personal opinion, not that of Duterte.

Duterte sparked controversy earlier this week for granting a surprise pardon to Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was halfway into a 10-year sentence for killing Jennifer Laude in October 2014.

Laude was found dead in a motel room in the northern Philippines hours after she met the American at a bar in Olongapo City.

Roque said the pardon was linked to Duterte’s desire to win swift access to a vaccine against a virus that has infected about a quarter of a million Filipinos, killing more than 4,000 of them.

“As we all know our president has emphasised the need for a vaccine,” Roque told a virtual news conference.

“The grant of a pardon to Pemberton is in line with our president’s desire that the Philippines should also benefit when Americans do develop a vaccine,” he said, stressing he was stating his personal opinion.

Duterte’s action has cleared all legal obstacles to the soldier’s release after a local court ordered him freed early on the grounds of good behaviour.

Roque — himself in quarantine after an aide tested positive for the virus — previously served as a lawyer for the victim’s family in the high-profile trial.

He rejected suggestions the Philippines was swapping its sovereignty for a coronavirus vaccine.

“The higher interest is saving lives,” Roque said.

– With PNA

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Hector Lawas
Court reporter for more than 20 years