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Duterte grants ‘absolute pardon’ to Pemberton

/ 05:10 PM September 07, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has granted “absolute pardon” to US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted for the death of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, Malacañang confirmed Monday.

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said 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.

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(This means that Pemberton can now walk free, his entitlement to GCTA, and whether the law is applicable to him are no longer in question. The President has erased other punishments to be imposed on Pemberton.)

‘Pemberton still a murderer’

“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 added.

(What the President did not erase was Pemberton’s conviction; he is still a murderer but the other penalties he may receive were already erased by the President.)

Asked the reason behind the President’s decision, Roque said: “Hindi na po kinakailangang bigyang dahilan ng Presidente yan dahil yung pag grant po ng pardon at parole, yan naman po ang ating sinasabi na hindi po yan katungkulan ng hudikatura, kung di katungkulan ng ehekutibo.” (A reason is no longer needed because granting pardon and parole is not the duty of the judiciary but of the executive.)

“Yan ay one of the most presidential of all presidential powers— the grant of pardon and parole,” he went on.

(That’s one of the most presidential of all presidential powers— the grant of pardon and parole.)

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. initially broke the news of Pemberton’s “absolute pardon” over Twitter.

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“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,” Locsin said in a tweet Monday.

Pemberton was convicted of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014 but the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) recently released an order allowing the release of the American soldier.

According to the Olongapo court’s order, Pemberton was said to have already served the 10-year maximum of his penalty after taking into account the good conduct time allowances he accumulated while detained.

But Malacañang earlier said Pemberton’s release remains on hold after the Department of Justice had advised the Bureau of Corrections not to discharge the US soldier pending the court’s resolution of a motion for reconsideration filed before it.

Pemberton is currently detained at a restricted facility in Camp Aguinaldo, pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement. [ac]

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TAGS: absolute pardon, Homicide, Jennifer Laude, Joseph Scott Pemberton, VFA
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