BuCor signs Pemberton release papers
BuCor spokesman Gabriel Chaclag said they only need to serve the release order signed yesterday by BuCor chief Gerald Bantag to the Bureau of Immigration to set into motion the process of Pemberton’s deportation.
BuCor signs Pemberton release papers
Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has signed the release of homicide convict US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, setting the stage for his eventual deportation almost six years after killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

BuCor spokesman Gabriel Chaclag said they only need to serve the release order signed yesterday by BuCor chief Gerald Bantag to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to set into motion the process of Pemberton’s deportation.

“Surrender can happen today if the BI is ready. It can also happen tomorrow. There’s no pressure on us. We are treating it as a regular release,” Chaclag told The STAR yesterday.

Bantag said the BI told him there was no need to take Pemberton elsewhere while they process his deportation.

“From what the BI said, there’s no need to transfer custody of Pemberton. He can remain in his detention facility (while his deportation is being processed),” Bantag said in an interview over dzBB.

For Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Pemberton may be out this weekend based on the progress of paperwork, although the date of his deportation would be another matter.

“It is my expectation that by this weekend, the whole process will have been completed,” he added.

“The whole process of official release and deportation can be completed by the weekend, but the date of Pemberton’s actual exit from the country depends on his flight arrangements, considering that he is a military personnel of the US,” the justice secretary added.

The DOJ on Wednesday received the document signed by Duterte granting absolute pardon to the 25-year-old Pemberton. The document was forwarded to the BuCor yesterday morning, said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete.

“I do not know the level of preparedness of the BuCor to release Pemberton. What they said was that normally they are able to complete the paperwork in one to two days,” Perete said.

“That would also depend on the camp of Pemberton since there are clearances that his camp has to secure, if they have completed the paperwork and complied with all the requirements for the release. If they are able to do that, then the BuCor is looking at a timeframe of one to two days,” he said.

BuCor, he added, updated its records of the US serviceman and took his latest mug shot and fingerprints last Sept. 8.  After his conviction by Judge Roline Ginez Jabalde of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 in 2015, Pemberton was consigned to a military detention facility at Camp Aguinaldo – but secured by BuCor guards.

“BuCor has received from DOJ a copy of the Absolute Pardon granted to Pemberton and has now started processing his release,” Chaclag told reporters.

Duterte’s absolute pardon came days after the Olongapo City court ordered Pemberton’s release on good behavior under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

Once released, he would be transferred to the custody of the BI, which would process his deportation papers.

“Just like other deportees, he would not be handcuffed. The only requirement is that he would be escorted by Immigration personnel to the plane to make sure that he would be leaving the Philippines,” he said.

BI acting spokesman Melvin Mabulac said there was a deportation order on Pemberton issued in September 2015 or before his conviction. He assured the public there would be no special treatment for the pardoned convict.

“No special treatment will be given to him and what’s important is his physical presence is removed from the country because he’s a threat to public safety and morals of Filipinos,” Mabulac said.

Before Pemberton’s deportation, Mabulac said that he still has to get the clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the court to make sure he has no other pending cases in the country.

Mabulac said that Pemberton will be automatically blacklisted in the Philippines for violating the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense thanked President Duterte for granting Pemberton absolute pardon.

“The US government, particularly the US Department of Defense, is grateful for the presidential pardon putting closure to the Pemberton case,” Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez told The STAR in a text message.

He also defended the President’s move. “Pardon is a presidential prerogative,” he said. – Robertzon Ramirez, Christina Mendez

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