'No empathy': CHR slams Duterte's full pardon grant for murderer Pemberton
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
'No empathy': CHR slams Duterte's full pardon grant for murderer Pemberton
(Philstar.com) - September 9, 2020 - 4:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights Wednesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to grant US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was earlier convicted for the murder of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, calling it an affront to the victim's family and the wider LGBTQI community.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddyboy Locsin made the initial announcement on Tuesday night in a tweet, triggering outrage on social media. This was confirmed by no less than Palace spokesperson Harry Roque, who also formerly served as Laude's lawyer, later Tuesday. 

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, CHR focal commissioner on gender equality and LGBTQI human rights Karen Gomez-Dumpit recognized the chief executive's power to grant such a pardon but pointed out the double standard and the systemic maltreatment of the LGBTQI community present. 

"The Commission recognizes the scope of the president's power to grant pardon. However, there is still an obligation to account for the exercise of the pardon, to wield this power with prudence and sensitivity to the plight of victims," CHR's statement read. 

"Pemberton’s express pardon exhibited double standards, lack of fairness, and the absence of empathy for the LGBTQI community."

Murder of Jennifer Laude 

Although earlier expressing his objection to a possible early release for Pemberton, Roque for his part said that the pardon indicates that the US marine can now walk free.

Joseph Scott Pemberton, a Private First Class at the time, was the prime suspect in the case of Laude, whose body was found battered in an Olongapo lodge in October 2014.

According to reports, Pemberton brought Laude to a motel after meeting at a nightlife bar on October 11. There, he killed her upon discovering that she was "gay."

Both the national police's own reports along with the country's LGBTQI community at large classify the incident as a hate crime. In his testimony, Pemberton referred to Laude as "it", saying: "I choked it, wrapped my arms around it until it stopped moving, and dragged it towards the bathroom."

"Pemberton committed one of the most brutal crimes against a transwoman in the country. Granting a presidential pardon to such a felon is an affront to the LGBTQI community. It is an affront to the Laude family and the LGBTQI community," the commission said in its statement. 

"Killings of transgender persons continue to rise worldwide. In the Philippines, they continue to be victims of violence and harassment. Protections in law and procedure remain scant and often, members of the LGBTQI communities face systemic barriers in accessing justice," it added. — Franco Luna

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS MARINE PHILIP SCOTT PEMBERTON PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
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