Pemberton lawyer: Denying him GCTA would mean PH is a ‘primitive country’
MANILA, Philippines — Suggestions that US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton should not benefit from the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) would paint a negative and “primitive” image of the country, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Lawyer Rowena Flores explained that it is unfair to make this move against the United States (US) Marine only now when the rules were not clarified before he was detained at Camp Aguinaldo.
She also claimed that Pemberton, who was found guilty of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, was not given the choice on whether he should be detained at Camp Aguinaldo or at the New Bilibid Prison.
“Magbigay po ako ng example: Ako, Pilipinas, ilagay ko si Pemberton sa Camp Aguinaldo, after six years sa Camp Aguinaldo sabihin ko sa kanya ‘hoy hindi ka pwede ng GCTA kasi andyan ka sa Camp Aguinaldo.’ Eh anong klaseng primitibong bansa tayo if we cannot be honorable people?” Flores asked.
(I would give an example: If I were the Philippines and I placed Pemberton in Camp Aguinaldo, and then after six years in there I would tell him ‘hey, you cannot avail yourself of the GCTA because you’re inside Camp Aguinaldo.’ What kind of primitive country are we if we cannot be honorable people?)
“Tayo ang naglagay do’n pagkatapos babawasan natin bigla-bigla? Kung gusto nilang […] hindi siya applyan ng GCTA, bago pa po siya ilagay sa Camp Aguinaldo, sinabi na sa kanya. ‘Gusto mo ba d’yan? ‘Pag d’yan ka wala kang GCTA. Gusto mo ba ‘don sa Bilibid, may GCTA ka’. Eh wala pong gano’ng usapan eh,” she added.
(We placed him there and then we would strip him of these benefits? If they want to deprive him of GCTA, he should have been informed before he was placed at Camp Aguinaldo. ‘You want to stay there? You can’t avail yourself of GCTA, but if you want to stay in Bilibid, you can get it. But there were no talks about that.)
And in case Pemberton did not get the hotly contested GCTA, Flores insisted that it would have been unfair as a lot of Filipinos have been given such benefits.
Pemberton was ordered released by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court after supposedly completing his 10-year sentence — down to just six years because of the GCTA deductions.
Critics of the government questioned why the GCTA was even used for Pemberton when it has been suspended due to irregularities surrounding it, like the inclusion of heinous crime convicts on prisoners who would be released.
But after public uproar on Pemberton’s pending release, President Rodrigo Duterte opted to give Pemberton absolute pardon, as he was a victim of unfairness with his GCTA being left unaccounted for.
Duterte defended his decision on Monday, saying that the country has not treated the convict properly.
The President maintained that he is not favoring any side, but noted that it was not Pemberton’s fault if his GCTA was not tallied.
Flores, who previously said that her client was on the receiving end of “special negative treatment,” said that Pemberton stands to lose a lot if he stays locked-up — especially since there are gray areas in the law that mandated the GCTA.
She also claimed that no Filipino has suffered the same fate as Pemberton — arrested and detained even before cases were filed.
“Maghanap ka ng Pilipino na naka-kulong under the same circumstances, walang kaso, wala pang probable cause, hindi pa tapos ‘yong preliminary investigation, wala po kayong makikitang gano’ng Pilipino,” she said.
(Find a Filipino who is arrested under the same circumstances, with no cases filed, no probable cause ascertained, with the preliminary investigation still unfinished, you cannot find a Filipino in that situation.)
“Lugi naman po siya masyado kung hindi ia-apply ‘yong GCTA sa kanya, na ina-apply sa lahat po, sa buong parte ng Pilipinas […] Medyo lampas na lampas na nga po siya ng pag-stay doon sa jail,” she added.
(He is already at a disadvantage if the GCTA is not applied to him, because this is applied to all, in every part of the Philippines. He is actually serving more time than his jail sentence right now.) [ac]
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