MANILA, Philippines–Relatives of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude on Monday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to replace the lead prosecutor handling the trial of the murder case against US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Lawyer Harry Roque said Olongapo City Prosecutor Emelie Fe delos Santos is the one pushing for a settlement with the Pemberton camp without consulting the family of Laude.
Reports earlier revealed the P21-million settlement by the US government with the Laudes.
“She was the one pushing for the plea bargain, that she would allow Pemberton to plead guilty to the lesser offense of homicide but the civil aspect of the case will proceed. Hindi naman ito posible dahil ang civil case is deemed instituted sa criminal case,” Roque explained.
For their part, the Laudes also said they would not settle for a plea bargain, adding that what they are after is justice for their slain relative.
“What we are fighting for is murder, not to downgrade the case. What they did to my child was gruesome. Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we can’t fight for justice,” Laude’s mother Julita said, adding what their family wanted is to see Pemberton in jail.
Roque as well as Julita and Laude’s elder sister Marilou went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to meet with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and discuss their request to replace delos Santos.
Roque added that delos Santos has barred him from attending a case conference last Wednesday, citing as reason that private prosecutors have nothing to do with the criminal aspect of the case and that they should limit their participation to the civil aspect.
“From the start malaki na talaga ang problema namin sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa fiscal ng Olongapo City dahil parang galit na galit sya sa aming mga private prosecutors dahil sa mga hindi magandang karanasan nya noon sa Nicole case,” Roque said referring to the 2005 rape case filed against US Marine Corp Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.
(From the start we’ve had a hard time dealing with the fiscal of Olongapo City because he seemed to be angry at private prosecutors for not so pleasant experiences with them in relation to the Nicole case.)
Delos Santos also headed the prosecution panel in the Nicole case where she had some disagreements with private prosecutor Evalyn Ursua.
Roque pointed out the need for a close coordination between the private and public prosecutors.
“First of all, as far as we know, we have the right under the Constitution to choose our own lawyer in whatever cases we face. This is why we don’t understand why the current public prosecutor does not allow our lawyer to defend us and make sure justice for the killing of Jennifer Laude would be served,” the family said in their letter, adding this is the reason why they asked de Lima to replace the Olongapo City prosecutor.
“The trial has started, but we are deeply concerned. We will only feel secured once we see our lawyer working well with the public prosecutors in defending our real interests to attain justice,” it added.
INQUIRER.net tried to get side of delos Santos but she has yet to respond to our queries.
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.