Getting away with murder.
Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte granted “absolute pardon” to US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted for the death of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.
This was announced by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who tweeted that: “Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained was not in the prisoner’s control — and to do justice — the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace.”
According to the Parole and Probation Administration of the Department of Justice, absolute pardon is “the total extinction of the criminal liability of the individual to whom it is granted without any condition whatsoever resulting to the full restoration of his civil rights.”
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 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.
But the RTC ordered his release after serving less than six years of his sentence, supposedly because of “good conduct” even if he had a special cell made for him, and he never mingled with other prisoners who could assess his conduct.
When Duterte eventually tackled this issue during a September 7 briefing, he said he is not “favoring anybody” – a surprising statement since he is the Philippines president, and American Pemberton was convicted for the crime.
But that the government has some “dapa” (failures), he said, because of the mandate re GCTA.
For Duterte, nobody can attest to Pemberton’s good character; but it is not his fault that no one documented this for him. He should, therefore, be given the presumption of having good character.
“It is not fair” to Pemberton, Duterte said, so he decided to “pardon” the murderer as he was not “treated fairly.”
Duterte – who fashioned himself as pro-LGBTQIA – earlier promised to form a commission for LGBTQIA Filipinos, just as he said he supports civil union for LGBTQIA Filipinos. But this move to release an American murderer of a Filipino transgender woman comes before fulfilling any pro-LGBTQIA pledges, including his refusal to push for the SOGIE Equality Bill as a priority bill in Congress.
*This article was amended at 8.43PM of September 7 to include the take of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who spoke on this issue during a briefing.