Roque, once a Laude family counsel, trends online after Pemberton gets pardoned
MANILA, Philippines — Whenever presidential spokesperson Harry Roque becomes a trending topic on Twitter, it is usually because administration critics disagreed with his statements, especially on the COVID-19 pandemic.
But on Monday, Roque’s name trended because of an incident that he has nothing to do with the pandemic: Roque’s boss, President Rodrigo Duterte, granted absolute pardon to US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton who was convicted of killing Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude in 2016.
Netizens on Twitter pondered how Roque would react to the news that Duterte had already essentially freed Pemberton, considering that he once served as counsel for the Laude family during the legal proceedings.
As of this writing, there were over 20,000 tweets about the presidential spokesperson.
“Excited ako bukas sa daily Q&A briefing ni Harry Roque, sigurado yung unang question sa kanya yung sa Pemberton case. Lets see how will he handle such issue since he was Laude’s laywer at that time,” user @KimberlyLorraine said in her tweet.
[I am excited for tomorrow’s question and answer portion in Harry Roque’s briefing, I’m sure the first question would be about the Pemberton case.]
“Anuna Harry Roque. Sinukuan mo na principles mo? Parang nawalan ka na ng sariling pag-iisip,” another user said.
[What now Harry Roque, have you thrown away your principles? It seems you lost your ability to think for yourself.]
Other people shared photos of human rights lawyer Roque joining the Laude family and other progressive groups supportive of the case against Pemberton in rallies and demonstrations.
One photo shows Roque joining protests calling for the scrapping of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
“Imagine Harry Roque fights for Jennifer Laude’s rights before but what happened now? I guess iba talaga nagagawa kapag hawak ka ng matataas. #JusticeforJenniferLaude #HustisyaParaKayJenniferLaude,” user @govsucks noted.
[I guess it makes a difference when people in power have you under control.]
Imagine Harry Roque fights for Jennifer Laude's rights before but what happend now??, I guess iba talaga nagagawa kapag hawak ka ng matataas.#JusticeforJenniferLaude#HustisyaParaKayJenniferLaude pic.twitter.com/k9E2AD2IIV
— . (@_govsucks) September 7, 2020
Just recently, Roque was adamant that Pemberton did not deserve to be released before he had served his sentence, noting that Laude’s death personified the death of Philippine sovereignty.
“As former Private Prosecutor for the Laude family, I deplore the short period of imprisonment meted on Pemberton who killed a Filipino under the most gruesome manner,” Roque said in a Twitter post. “Laude’s death personifies the death of Philippine sovereignty.”
Pemberton’s early release was based on an order issued by Olongapo Regional Trial Court Presiding Judge Roline M. Ginez-Jabalde, citing that the US serviceman had completed his jail sentence factoring in the reduced time allowed under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
However, critics questioned this — noting that the GCTA scheme was suspended after anomalies came out in the implementation of the GCTA, including the possible release of heinous crime convicts.
Roque pointed out that the release would be suspended pending a motion for reconsideration expected to be filed by the prosecution.
Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. revealed that Duterte had already pardoned Pemberton.
Roque also confirmed this.
He said that Duterte’s granting pardon did not change the fact that Pemberton had been convicted for killing Laude.
Roque’s former colleagues in the Laude case — lawyers from the Center for International Law (Centerlaw) — said that they had not reached out to the former regarding the case, although they had noted his disagreement with Pemberton’s early release.
“No, Centerlaw hasn’t,” lawyer Rommel Bagares told INQUIRER.net when asked if they have talked to Roque. “We understand from the news earlier that he also questioned the grant to Pemberton by the court of GCTA.”
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