Following the conviction of Joseph Scott Pemberton for the death of Jennifer Laude, Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of EnGendeRights, a human rights organization that fights against discrimination of women and LGBT people, expressed her concern with the weak punishment meted considering the severity of the crime.
As she expressed her “deep concern with the low penalty meted out to US Marine Lance Corporal Pemberton,” Padilla stressed her – and the LGBT community’s – desire for “Filipinos to be safe in the Philippines. We want transgender women to be safe in our country. Killing someone because she was found out to be a transgender woman is manifestly out of hate. Hate crime is murder. Philippine courts should not allow such defense as a mitigating circumstance. This tolerates prejudice against transgender women, discriminating our transgender women.”
Since the presiding judge also failed to recognize that Pemberton used unnecessary force that led to the death of Laude, Padilla said that “there was clear use of superior strength. Pemberton was trained to use arm-lock, eventually knocking Jennifer unconscious and weakening her defense. There was patent cruelty when Pemberton dragged her unconscious body to the toilet bowl and drowned her in the toilet bowl, flushing the lever at the same time,” said Padilla.
The Olongapo City regional trial court also ordered Pemberton to pay about P4.5 million (approximately $130,000) to Laude’s family for loss of earning capacity; P155,255 ($3,300) to pay for the wake and burial of the victim, P50,000 ($1,000) for “moral damages” and 30,000 pesos ($600) for “exemplary damages.”
“The Philippine criminal justice system must mete out life imprisonment for killing a person. We should be mindful that there’s always the problem of repeat offenders when perpetrators are released from jail after just a short period of time. It’s the duty of our country to protect the rights of its citizens,” Padilla ended.