THE Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday, September 9, announced that U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton will be deported out of the country after his release from detention.
“Merong existing deportation order against him (There is an existing deportation order against him),” said DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete.
“So he will be deported by the Bureau of Immigration once ma-release siya ng BuCor (So he will be deported by the Bureau of Immigration once he has been released by the Bureau of Corrections),” he added.
Pemberton was granted an absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, September 7.
Pemberton was convicted of homicide on December 1, 2015 for killing transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude in 2014. He was sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment.
Duterte said that it was unfair to keep Pemberton detained, pointing out that it was not Pemberton’s fault that his good conduct time allowance (GCTA) was not recorded.
“You have not treated Pemberton fairly. So, i-release ko. Pardon. Eh ang pardon, walang mga question ‘yan (So, I’ll release him. Pardon. There are no questions there),” the president said during his televised public address on Monday.
He added, “It is not the fault of Pemberton na hindi na na-compute because we should allow him, the good character presumption kasi wala namang nagreport na Marines na nagsabi na nagwawala siya (It is not the fault of Pemberton that his good conduct was not computed because we should allow him, the good character presumption of good character since the Marines did not report anything about him acting out).”
The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court on Sept. 1 ordered Pemberton’s 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 GCTA of 1,548 days or more than four years.
The order was signed by Presiding Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde. However, Pemberton’s release was put on hold by the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) following the motion for reconsideration filed by Laude’s family.
Duterte said he informed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra about his decision before announcing it.
“So sabi ko kay Justice Secretary, Medialdea, pinatawag ko sila kanina, sabi ko it’s my decision to pardon. Correct me if I’m wrong but ito ang tingin ko sa kaso (So I told Justice Secretary, Medialdea, I called them over and said it’s my decision to pardon. Correct me if I’m wrong but this is my opinion about the case). We have not treated Pemberton fairly,” he said.
Duterte also clarified that he isn’t taking any sides.
“I am not favoring anybody — neither Pemberton, nor the family [of Laude],” he stressed.
Robredo questions fairness in Pemberton pardon
Vice President Leni Robredo, for her part, said Duterte’s decision to grant U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton an absolute pardon is proof that the Philippine government favors the powerful.
According to her, the poor are punished under Duterte’s administration, while the rich and powerful are freed.
“Ang tanong nga natin: Patas at makatarungan ba ang naging desisyong ito? Isa lang ang kasong ito sa maraming patunay ng pagkiling sa makapangyarihan na nakikita natin mula sa pamahalaan (Our question is: Was this decision fair and just? This case is just one of the many proofs that the government favors the powerful),” she said on Tuesday, September 8.
“Ang nakikita natin: Kapag mahirap, may parusa; kapag mayaman at nasa poder, malaya (From what we’re seeing: if it’s poor, there’s punishment; if it’s rich and in power, there’s freedom),” she added.
Robredo pointed out that there are thousands of Filipinos who remain in jail because they can’t afford a lawyer while their families outside are suffering. This is in contrast to Pemberton “who had lawyers, special detention facilities, a quick public trial, and an appeal.”
“Ngayon, lalong luminaw na mayroon din siyang resources para masigurong mabibigyang-pansin ng mismong Pangulo ang kaso niya (Now it’s getting clearer that he also had resources to ensure that he could draw attention to his case from the president himself),” she said.
Robredo then expressed hope that Duterte “exercises his vast powers in a manner that is fair and that benefits the common Filipino.”
On his own volition
Guevarra, meanwhile, maintained that Duterte’s decision to grant absolute pardon to Pemberton was his own.
“It appeared to me that it was upon his own volition,” he told ANC. “He must have been following this issue and then on his own, decided to grant the pardon to end it all.”
The justice secretary also noted that Duterte didn’t take the usual procedure in handing out his clemency, but assured his move was not illegal.
The usual procedure is for a convict to submit an application for pardon or parole to the Board of pardons and Parole. After evaluating, it will submit its findings to the DOJ, which will then endorse the recommendation to the President if the documents are fulfilled.
“Nothing prevents the president from directly exercising his constitutional power to grant executive clemency at any time, because it is a personal act of grace,” said Guevarra.