BuCor told: Explain whether Pemberton is covered by GCTA
LGBTQ+ rights group Bahaghari and other progressive groups held an indignation rally in front of the Department of Justice office in Manila on September 3 to condemn the court's early release order for US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.
The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales

BuCor told: Explain whether Pemberton is covered by GCTA

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 7, 2020 - 3:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Olongapo court that earlier issued the release order for US Marine L/Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton has directed the Bureau of Corrections to explain whether the American serviceman can avail of the benefits of the Good Conduct and Time Allowance law, a lawyer of slain transgender woman Jennifer said.

The Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 on Monday held a hearing on the motion for reconsideration filed by the Laude family, urging the court to reverse its September 1 order for Pemberton’s early release following the Good Conduct and Time Allowance law.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, lawyer Virginia Suarez said the court also ordered the BuCor to update its computation on the time Pemberton served.

The court, in an order dated September 1, ordered the release of Pemberton after it accounted for the more than 1,000 days of time allowances he supposedly earned for his good behavior while in prison.

Lawyer Romel Bagares, a member of the Laude family's legal team, argued that Pemberton's situation is covered by the Visiting Forces Agreement, which is a treaty and a different modality from other cases. He said there should be a separate agreement on whether the GCTA would apply on his case.

RELATED: Laude family's lawyer: GCTA should not apply on Pemberton's case

But the family of killed transgender woman Jennifer Laude sought to block it and filed an appeal. The Department of Justice, through its prosecution team in Olongapo, is set to file its own motion for reconsideration this week.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said their appeal will include jurisdictional issues and divergence in the GCTA computation.

DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete, also department spokesperson, said that while processing of GCTA applications continues, there are some cases that are held in abeyance. These are applications of those charged with a heinous crime, but eventually convicted on a non-heinous offense—including Pemberton’s case.

“There are cases affected by the new IRR (eg those charged with heinous crimes but eventually convicted of non-heinous crimes). As to them, presumptive GCTA is computed but the award is held in abeyance until the issuance of the Manual,” Perete said.

READ: After suspension and call for transparency, government quietly resumes GCTA

Laude family wants to see Pemberton, but agencies pass the buck

Suarez also said that the Laude family wants to see Pemberton and verify if the American serviceman is still imprisoned at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“I believe my client will request that to the BuCor and the DOJ, to see Pemberton because we do not know whether Pemberton is there. We haven’t seen him,” Suarez said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Guevarra told reporters that the Laude family may directly inquire with the BuCor on their request. "The BuCor has general rules on visitation. But it may have special rules for US military personnel detained under the VFA, more so during this pandemic," the DOJ chief said.

BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag, meanwhile said they will confer with DOJ and the Department of Foreign Affairs on this.

Chaclag said they have yet to receive the request from the Laude family, but stressed that visitation privileges are currently suspended due to the pandemic. “There are rules and protocols set by our Health Services and this applies to the Pemberton case,” he added.

He also pointed out that Pemberton is covered by the VFA, “and it is implied we have to consult the DOJ and the DFA on this issue.”

“Our legal department is already doing that,” Chaclag added.

The corrections bureau put on hold the processing of Pemberton’s release pending the court’s resolution of the motion for reconsideration. — with reports from News 5/Marlene Alcaide

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 14, 2020 - 2:13pm

An Olongapo has granted the motion of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014, for an early release through the Good Conduct Time Allowance law.

The court’s Presiding Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde issued the release order.

Laude’s family, however, has filed a motion for reconsideration, saying the convicted killer failed to show proof of good conduct. — AFP

September 14, 2020 - 2:13pm
President Rodrigo Duterte's pardon of Joseph Scott Pemberton over the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude is wrapped up in geopolitics and "did not come by chance", 
the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines - US (ICHRP-US) says.
"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 says.
The Philippine government has asserted that the US has nothing to do with the pardon. Pemberton's lawyer has also said the pardon was unexpected since they did not even apply for it.
ICHRP-US notes that the pardon comes after a US State Department approval of arms sales to the Philippines as well as the suspension of the Philippines' termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.
September 13, 2020 - 1:05pm

The US Embassy in Manila stresses that all legal proceedings on the "absolute pardon" of convicted American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law.

"Lance Cpl. Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines on September 13," the US Embassy says in a statement.

September 13, 2020 - 10:53am

Convicted American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton expresses his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for granting him absolute pardon, his lawyer says.

Lawyer Rowena Flores says Pemberton also extends his sympathy to the family of Jennifer Laude "for the pain he caused."

"In the years he spent in confinement, he spent much time contemplating the many errors in his ways regarding the night of October 11, 2014. He wishes he had the words to express the depth of his sorrow and regret," Flores says in a statement.

September 13, 2020 - 10:04am

Convicted American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton has been placed on the blacklist of the Bureau of Immigration as a consequence of the deportation order against him.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente says Pemberton is perpetually banned from coming back to the Philippines.

"The Bureau saw that he is a risk to public safety, having been found guilty of the crime.  Hence he was tagged as an undesirable alien, and will be expelled from the Philippines," Morente says.

September 13, 2020 - 10:01am

Virginia Suarez, lawyer of the family of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude, says she hopes convicted killer Joseph Scott Pemberton may find peace of mind as he returns to the United States.

"May he find peace of mind. Hoping he has learned from all these the value of life and dignity regardless of gender and nationality," Suarez says.

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