US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton (File photo)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has granted absolute pardon to US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton who was convicted for the death of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this confirmation after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. made the announcement on his official Twitter account.
“Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained was not in the prisoner’s control—and to do justice—the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace,” Locsin said in a tweet.
In a statement, Roque said absolute pardon, which extinguishes criminal liability of an individual without any condition, will allow Pemberton to return to the US.
“Ibig sabihin po niyan makalalaya na po si Pemberton. Wala na pong issue kung siya ay entitled sa GCTA (good conduct time allowance), wala na pong issue kung applicable ba sa kanya yung batas dahil hindi siya nakulong sa national penitentiary (This means Pemberton will be freed. There will no longer be an issue whether he is entitled to GCTA, there will no longer be an issue whether the law applies to him because he was not detained in the national penitentiary),” he said.
According to Roque, Duterte has also remitted imposed penalties against Pemberton.
“Binura na po ng Presidente kung ano pa yung parusa na dapat ipapataw kay Pemberton. Ang hindi po nabura ng Presidente, yung conviction ni Pemberton. Mamamatay tao pa rin po siya (The President has erased other penalties imposed on Pemberton. What is not erased is Pemberton’s conviction. He is still a murderer),” he said.
He said the President has the power to grant parole or absolute pardon, a form of executive clemency given to the President under Article VII, Sec. 19 of the 1987 Constitution.
“Hindi na po kinakailangan bigyan ng dahilan ng Presidente ‘yan dahil yung pag-grant po ng pardon at parole, at ‘yan po ang ating sinasabi na hindi po ‘yan katungkulan ng hudikatura kundi katungkulan ng ehekutibo, ‘yan po ay (There won’t be a need for the President to give his reason on granting pardon and parole, because it’s not the obligation of the judiciary but the obligation of the executive, that’s) one of the most presidential of all presidential powers, the grant of pardon and parole,” he said.
Roque also clarified that Duterte’s previous verbal attacks against the US did not mean he took an anti-US stance.
“Hindi naman siya anti-US po e. Siya po ay para po sa independiyenteng foreign policy. Kaibigan ng lahat, walang kalaban (He’s not anti-US. He’s for an independent foreign policy. Friend to all, an enemy to none),” he said.
Pemberton was convicted of homicide on Dec. 1, 2015, for killing Laude in 2014.
Last Sept. 1, the Olongapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 ordered Pemberton’s early release saying he had served the minimum of his sentence for the death of Laude six years ago.
Pemberton is now entitled to be released for he had already served the 10-year maximum of his penalty after taking into account the GCTA he accumulated while detained, the court added.
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Thursday put on hold Pemberton’s release following a motion for reconsideration filed before the court questioning an order granting his liberty.
Pemberton currently remains under the custody of BuCor at its extension facility in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. (With reports from Reymond Carl Dela Cruz/PNA)