Pemberton got special treatment under VFA, says Bayan
MANILA, Philippines — US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was given special treatment and was not a victim of unfairness, activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) insisted Tuesday.
Bayan, which has been vocal against Pemberton’s release and President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to grant absolute pardon to the US serviceman, who was convicted for the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude, said there was no “factual basis” to say that Pemberton got unfair treatment as Duterte claims.
“Duterte’s claim that convicted US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was unfairly treated is devoid of any factual basis. It cannot be cited as the reason for granting Pemberton absolute pardon,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes asserted.
“From the onset, Pemberton enjoyed special treatment under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). During trial, he was held in the JUSMAG facility controlled by the US. After his conviction, a special jail, in accordance with US specifications, was constructed just for him,” Reyes added.
During his televised talk aired Monday night, Duterte defended his decision to absolutely pardon Pemberton, saying that the country has not treated the US soldier “fairly”. According to the President, he is not favoring any side but asked people to consider that it was not Pemberton’s fault if his supposed good conduct time allowances were not tallied.
“It is not the fault of Pemberton na hindi na na-compute because we should allow him, the good character presumption kasi wala namang nagreport na Marines na nagsabi na nagwawala siya,” Duterte said.
For Pemberton’s lawyer, Rowena Flores, her client was subjected to “special negative treatment” because there was a public outcry on his release via the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) rule when over 20,000 Filipino convicts were also released thru such policy prior to Pemberton.
“Ngayon lang po, parang tinututukan si Pemberton, na binibigyan siya ng ‘special negative treatment’ na hindi naman nabibigay sa karaniwang Pilipino or even other foreigners na hindi subject ng VFA,” she added, referring to militant groups assailing the absolute pardon for Pemberton and insisting he is favored due to the VFA.
(It is only now that it appears they are focusing on Pemberton, that he is given a ‘special negative treatment’ which is not the same attention given to ordinary Filipinos or even other foreigners who are not subject of VFA.)
But Reyes maintained there was special treatment on Pemberton, evidenced by the fact that the American solider “did not serve a single day inside a Philippine jail.”
“He enjoyed the special treatment accorded to US soldiers under the VFA,” Reyes pointed out.
“Hindi kawawa si Pemberton. He is no victim of unfair treatment. Quite the opposite, he enjoyed special treatment from Day 1. In fact, even his absolute pardon is proof of how special he is. Ordinary Filipinos need to apply for a pardon and go through a tedious process. Pemberton did not apply for pardon but was given an express lane to freedom,” he added.
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