Locsin: PH gov’t wants to observe Pemberton’s court martial proceedings 

CLOSER TO FREEDOM. Bureau of Corrections Chief Gerald Bantag turned over to the Bureau of Immigration the custody of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton on Friday, September 11. The BI will implement its 2015 deportation order. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is already processing the clearance of Pemberton. An NBI clearance is one of the requirements in the deportation proceeding to make sure that the subject of deportation has no other pending cases in the country. | Photo courtesy of BuCor

PHILIPPINE Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday, September 15, said his office will push to have a representative observing the court martial proceedings of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton.

“We might have an observer present in the court martial. That’s not a bad idea… if they will allow us, because that falls under military relations but we will certainly press for that,” he said in a budget hearing.

Malacañang on Monday, September 14 said Pemberton will continue to face court martial proceedings in the U.S. as promised by U.S. authorities.

“There was a promise made by American authorities along with a representative from the Marine corps,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in Filipino.

“They promised that even if Pemberton is released and the process in the Philippines ended, he will still face court martial proceedings where it will be determined if additional punishment will be imposed and if he is still qualified to remain in service,” he added.

Pemberton was deported from the Philippines on Sunday, September 13 on board an American military aircraft bound for the U.S., at exactly 9:14 a.m.

He was released from the detention after being granted an absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte, who said that it was unfair to keep Pemberton detained.

According to Locsin, Duterte talked to him and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra before giving the pardon to Pemberton.

“All I can is tell you exactly what happened. There was no grant for a request for a pardon. The president, on his own initiative…when we were in a meeting, he told me, ‘Teddy Boy, you know, a prisoner has no control over the conditions of his confinement,” he said.

“This is his view, he is a practicing lawyer, a litigator, and a prosecutor,” he added. “Teddy Boy, I think I’m going to give him a pardon.”

Locsin then said he and Duterte waited for Guevarra to arrive, after which the president inquired about Pemberton’s case status.

“Guevarra came in and he (Duterte) said, ‘Where are we now?’ And he (Guevarra) said, ‘Well, there’s a motion for reconsideration in court (against Pemberton’s early release). If you want to wait for that, you can and see where it goes,’” he narrated.

“But he (Duterte) said, ‘No, I think it’s unfair.’ And he explained again, ‘If the court has already found that he qualifies for good conduct time allowance, why don’t I just give him a pardon and cut this all short?’ Sec. Guevarra said, ‘Well that’s your prerogative, it’s an absolute prerogative as president.’ Then he (Duterte) said, ‘I’m doing that right now,’” Locsin added.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide on December 1, 2015 for the murder of Jennifer Laude. He was sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment.

Prior to Duterte’s pardon, the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court ordered his release, saying that the convicted American serviceman has completed the minimum of his sentence after serving a total of 2,142 days or over five years and eight months in prison as well as accumulating a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than four years.

The pardon voided the issue of whether or not Pemberton is entitled to GCTA.

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