Guevarra: Duterte pardon to Pemberton a 'closed' matter, says 'let's move on'
This file photo shows Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
The STAR/KJ Rosales, File
Guevarra: Duterte pardon to Pemberton a 'closed' matter, says 'let's move on'
Kristine Joy Patag ( - September 11, 2020 - 3:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — For Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the grant of absolute pardon to US Marine L/Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, convicted for killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude, is a matter that is already closed.

Guevarra also said he cannot speculate on the motive behind President Rodrigo Duterte’s grant of pardon to Pemberton and stressed that the decision was within the president’s prerogative.

“I cannot speculate on the president’s motives. He has explained his reason for granting pardon to Mr. Pemberton. For me, that’s the end of story. Let’s move on,” he told reporters.

READ: Duterte's pardon to Pemberton has 'basis,' 'not arbitrary' — Guevarra

The justice secretary was asked for his comment on presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement that, in his opinion, Duterte likely granted pardon to the American convict for access to COVID-19 vaccines being developed by American pharmaceutical firms.

“My sentiments are irrelevant. I defer to the personal judgment of the president on matters within his constitutional prerogative,” Guevarra added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire meanwhile said that they have had discussions with US manufacturers. “No conditions were provided or given for us.”

GCTA applicable to foreign nationals

Guevarra earlier said Duterte must have had basis, such as issues surrounding Pemberton’s release through the Good Conduct and Time Allowance law, for his decision — that surprised even him and US Ambassador Sung Kim.

On the same day that Duterte granted the pardon, state prosecutors in Olongapo City joined the family of Laude in blocking the earlier release order for Pemberton.

In an interview earlier this week, Guevarra said that around the time he learned of the DOJ’s motion for reconsideration, he was called to the president’s residence and was told that he has decided to grant Pemberton pardon.

“He didn’t explain who prompted him if there was any it appeared to me that it was his own volition, upon his own volition,” Guevarra said then.

One of the legal issues raised in the appeal against Pemberton’s release order was whether he is eligible to claim benefits from the GCTA law.

Addressing this, the DOJ chief told reporters: “The GCTA law will apply to all persons, including aliens, convicted by final judgment of a Philippine court with competent jurisdiction and serving sentence in Philippine correctional institutions, unless non-application of GCTA to certain persons is expressly provided for by the law or by international treaties or agreements.”

READ: Duterte on Pemberton pardon: Allow him the good character presumption

Duterte’s grant of pardon, which cannot be reviewed, rendered the court proceedings moot.

Pemberton is now under the custody of the Bureau of Immigration as it processes his deportation. He remains inside his facility at Camp Aguinaldo.

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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