The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) stated that it is ready to help the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in facilitating the release of convicted murderer US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Pemberton is detained at a special jail at the AFP Custodial Facility by virtue of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the AFP and BuCor.
Pemberton was initially sentenced to six to 12 years imprisonment by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 74, in December 2015. He was found guilty of murdering transgender woman Jennifer Laude, who was found dead in a bathroom in a room in Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City on October 11, 2014.
Laude – who was only 26 years old at that time – was found with her head inside a toilet bowl. She was last seen alive with Pemberton.
When the RTC released its decision, it said that Pemberton admitted that he killed a “he-she.”
But in an order dated September 1, 2020, Olongapo RTC Presiding Judge Roline M. Ginez-Jabalde ordered the BuCor to release Pemberton from jail.
The Olongapo RTC said Pemberton has already served 2,142 days or over five years and eight months in prison while he was credited 1,548 days or over four years for his good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
The RTC decision is getting lambasted.
According to Major General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, the military has yet to receive the release order of Pemberton. “We learned about the release order for USMC (US Marine Corps) Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton from media reports. But we have not received a copy of such release order yet,” Arevalo said.
The move – while legal – may be seen as a PR nightmare for AFP, considering it expressed earlier that it doesn’t support an anti-discrimination policy to protect the rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos.
During a virtual hearing at the House of Representatives, AFP gave a position paper stating that it rejects the proposed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill, claiming that respect towards the LGBTQIA community may be given “without having to sacrifice the rights of the majority.”
“The AFP does not subscribe to the passage of SOGIE Bill… The AFP, as a government institution, does not discriminate any person based on sex and gender… The AFP has existing laws, policies, and standard operating procedures and other pertinent documents that protect personnel from discrimination.”
AFP added that it would be “unjust to grant special privilege to some persons at the expense of the basic rights of others… Respect and compassion towards our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community may be given without having to sacrifice the rights of the majority.”
For the AFP, policies that seek “to provide true equality among individuals are threatened to be violated if SOGIE bill will be pursued” because it supposedly caters to specific individuals.