Int’l rights group: Duterte’s pardon of Pemberton reeks of US meddling
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s pardon of US Marine L/Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, convicted killer of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude “did not come by chance,” an international rights advocacy group said Monday, stressing that the American’s release “reeks of US meddling.”
Pemberton was deported to the US on Sunday morning, days after Duterte surprisingly granted him pardon for killing Laude in a motel in Olongapo in 2014.
Duterte said the Philippines “did not treat him [Pemberton] fairly” and that his “good character” while in detention should be credited.
But the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – US (ICHRP-US) said Pemberton’s release is not a matter of good behavior but of “foreign intervention.”
“Pemberton’s release is not a matter of an individual’s good behavior, but rather a matter of national sovereignty and foreign intervention. This pardon reeks of U.S. meddling,” says ICHRP-US spokesperson Drew Elizarde-Miller said.
He added that “the timing of Pemberton’s release did not come by chance,” pointing out that it came months after the US State Department approved multiple arms sales to the Philippines worth more than $2 billion, as well as the suspension of the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
“The truth is, the United States, as in the case of Pemberton and in the aforementioned arms sales, continues to wield military aid and might to influence Philippine matters,” the group said.
The US-based human rights group reiterated its call for US Congress to pass the Philippine Human Rights Act and suspend military aid to the Philippines — to cease using the Philippines as a pawn of US interests and to uphold human rights.