Duterte grants Jennifer Laude's killer Pemberton an absolute pardon
Members of BAHAGHARI and other youth groups on Thursday September 3, trooped to the Department of Justice to condemn the early release order for US soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton.
JUCRA pool photo
Duterte grants Jennifer Laude's killer Pemberton an absolute pardon
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 7, 2020 - 5:23pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:58 p.m.) — As Philippine prosecutors prepare to block the early release of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday granted an “absolute pardon” to the US Marine who was convicted for the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude.

"Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained as not in the prisoner’s control—and to do justice—the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace,” Locsin wrote on a tweet.

According to a primer by the Department of Justice Parole and Probation Administration, a grant of absolute pardon is "the total extinction of the criminal liability of the individual to whom it is granted without any condition whatsoever resulting to the full restoration of his civil rights."

Supreme Court jurisprudence states that an “absolute pardon not only blots out the crime committed, but removes all disabilities resulting from the conviction.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has yet to reply whether he was consulted over this.

The Department of Justice is set to file a motion for reconsideration for the reversal of an Olongapo court’s early release order for Pemberton on account of the Good Conduct and Time Allowance law.

Palace: Pemberton now free

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained that the pardon means Pemberton can now walk free.

"No more issue on whether he is entitled to the GCTA, no more issue on whether the law is applicable on him because he is not imprisoned at the national penitentiary," Roque, a former human rights lawyer who once represented the Laudes, said.

Pemberton was convicted for killing Laude at the Celzone Lodge in Olongapo City in October 2014. A 2015 STAR report quoting Roque said: "Pemberton told the court he thought Laude just lost consciousness after he strangled her, which he considered an act of self defense."

Absolute pardon processing and GCTA

But it is still unclear whether Pemberton, his legal team or the government of the United States sought the pardon, which only the president can grant.

According to a document from the DOJ, there are at least 14 documentary requirements for application of absolute pardon.

These include a duly notarized petition for absolute pardon, certificate of discharge from prison, certified true copy of the Order of the Court granting Probation, Certificate of Final Release and Discharge, clearances from the police and National Bureau of Investigation, and a notice/comment from the offended party, among others.

Lawyer Rowena Flores, Pembeton’s lawyer, has yet to reply to media whether her client had applied for a pardon.

Last week, Pemberton secured a release order from the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 after it accounted for the time allowances he supposedly earned while in prison, under the GCTA law—the measure was placed under scrutiny and suspended in August 2019.

During the height of the GCTA controversy, Duterte had ordered the re-arrest of the 1,914 heinous crimes convicts or they will be treated as fugitives.   

Guevarra later suspended the implementation of the law in light of the controversy, that led to Senate hearings on the GCTA and later, the promulgation of a revised Implementing Rules and Regulation on the law.  

DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete said Monday that 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.

JENNIFER LAUDE JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON
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