Laude’s mom says Duterte promised her Pemberton won’t be freed under his term
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte apparently made a promise to the mother of slain Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude that the latter’s killer, US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, would not be freed under his term.
According to Julita Laude, Duterte even gave them financial aid as he was apparently happy that the Laude family pursued the case against Pemberton, despite alleged pressures to enter into a settlement.
Julita, in a message sent by lawyer Virginia Suarez who was a member of the family’s counsel, said that the assurance was given some time in 2017 — three years before Duterte decided to grant absolute pardon to Pemberton.
“[…] Sumama ang loob ko dahil ang buong akala ko na maging ang pangulo na siya ang tumulong sakin na sabi niya ipaglaban,” Julita said through Suarez.
(I felt bad with Duterte’s decision because I thought that he was the President who would help me, as he told me to continue fighting.)
“At siya pa mismo nagbigay ng tulong pinansyal nuon dahil masaya raw siya na pinakipaglaban namin ang kaso dahil sabi niya na hangga’t siya raw ang nakaupo, hinding hindi niya papayagan na makalaya si Pemberton,” she added.
(He even gave me financial assistance before because he was very happy that we continued fighting for the case because he told us that until he is President, he would never allow Pemberton’s release.)
Pemberton, who killed Laude in 2014, was ordered released by the Olongapo Regional Trial Court after he supposedly completed his 10-year sentence, down to just six years because of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits.
After public uproar due to the court’s decision, Duterte decided to pardon Pemberton as the government has not been fair to him, because his GCTA credits were not accounted for while he was jailed at Camp Aguinaldo.
Julita said that she would have not minded the court’s release order because, at the very least, they would have a fight. But with Duterte’s pardon, the chances of making an appeal turned bleak.
“Ayos lang sana kung hindi siya nagbigay ng absolute pardon, para kahit papaano ay may laban naman kami,” she said.
(It would have been fine if Pemberton was not given an absolute pardon, so that we may have a chance to fight.)
“Sampung taong pagkakakulong lang sana ang hinihingi naming kabayaran para sa buhay ng anak ko, SAMPUNG TAON LANG SANA! napaka iksing panahong kabayarang pagkakakulong para sa buhay ng anak ko,” she added.
(All we are asking is for a ten-year sentence, to pay for the crime he did unto my child. I am asking for just ten years. This is a short amount of jail time to pay for killing my child.)
Critics of the administration and the Laude family’s lawyers said that the decision to pardon Pemberton may be a way of the administration to appease the United States, as its recent moves have been in favor of the superpower.
And on Thursday, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque — who was once part of the Laude family’s legal team — said that the President’s decision may have been to have better access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Pemberton appears to be closer to being released as of Friday, as the Bureau of Corrections turned him over to the Bureau of Immigration.
Despite this, Duterte’s decision still draws flak from various sectors and personalities, with the Commission on Human Rights reminding the Chief Executive that pardon powers must be exercised with prudence. [ac]
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