DOJ chief: Outgoing US envoy Kim surprised over Duterte’s absolute pardon on Pemberton
MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing US Ambassador Sung Kim was surprised when President Rodrigo Duterte granted absolute pardon to Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.
According to Guevarra, under the normal course of things, a person deprived of liberty applies for pardon or parole if he believes that he or she is qualified to be granted with it. He also said that there are certain requirements that have to be met and submitted to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP), which will then evaluate the application and come up with a corresponding recommendation.
“The usual procedure is for a sentenced person to apply for pardon or parole. the BPP will evaluate the application and submit its recommendation to the DOJ. The DOJ endorses it to the President if everything is in order,” the DOJ chief explained.
However, Guevarra also said that the President can exercise his constitutional prerogative of granting pardon even to someone who has not applied for it as a “personal act of grace.”
“I saw that the President’s decision to grant pardon to Pemberton was solely on his own. No one prompted it,” Guevarra told reporters.
“The President simply felt that it was not Pemberton’s fault that there was no way of recording his behavior in a military detention center all alone by himself. So, since I stated that granting executive clemency was the President’s constitutional prerogative, 15 minutes into our meeting, the US Ambassador arrived for his farewell call on the President,” Guevarra said.
“He seemed rather surprised when the President mentioned Pemberton’s pardon, and he thanked the President for it,” he added.
The 25-year-old Pemberton, was convicted of homicide for killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014. The Olongapo Court ordered his release after he settled his civil liability to Laude’s heir and completing the 10-year imprisonment based on the computation of his Good Conduct Time Allowance.
An appeal was filed by Laude’s camp. The DOJ also filed its motion for reconsideration. But with the grant of pardon, Guevarra said the motions have become moot, and “the court is not expected to act on it anymore.”
Guevarra also said that Pemberton would not be deported and because he is a military man, another mode of transportation might be arranged for his departure. But the DOJ Secretary admitted he is not privy about details concerning Pemberton’s departure.
“No deportation necessary. The court will just lift the hold-departure order if any was issued, and Immigration will simply let Pemberton depart… Since he is a US military personnel, there may be a different mode of transporting him out of the country,” he said.
Guevarra further said Duterte’s absolute pardon to Pemberton would be enough for the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to issue an order for the release of the American serviceman.
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