The importance of Pemberton's conviction to our national dignity
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - December 3, 2015 - 9:00am

The honorable lady judge who convicted US Marine Corporal Lance Joseph Pemberton has performed a landmark achievement in the annals not only of Philippine criminal jurisprudence but also in the political history of our country, in its relationship with our biggest political and military ally, the United States of America. While the judge meticulously laid out the factual and legal premises of her dispositive portion, the truth of the matter is that such a case was overwhelmed with too many political implications. Given the many pressures from both the prosecution and the defense, we could perhaps say without fear of plausible contradiction, that the lady judge acquitted herself by writing an intricately balanced decision.

We dare say that, even as the decision was too long and too detailed that it required the Clerk of Court no less than three hours, from one in the afternoon up to four pm, (after two brief recesses) to read the verdict, it was well-supported by a detailed narration of facts and well-researched citations of law and legal precedents. The judge painstakingly outlined the testimony of the many witnesses and the contents of the documentary evidence that were marked as exhibits. She also discussed the issues for resolution and the arguments interposed by both the prosecution and the defense. Although we do not agree with the judge on all the specific items of the discussions, we declare that the decision will be very, very difficult to reverse.

But over and above the legal nuances and ramifications of such a legal masterpiece, we firmly hold the view that such a decision should be seen from the larger spectrum of politics and international diplomacy as well as our country's foreign relations. There is no doubt in our mind that Pemberton was guilty not only of homicide but even of murder. But homicide, to the mind of many was sufficient because it has demonstrated beyond cavil that it is possible for a third world country like the Philippines to assert its independence and to uphold its sovereignty and the national dignity of its people, by being able to convict a soldier of a very powerful global power like the USA. It was a strong assertion of our sovereignty and a victory of the rule of law.

The US is the Philippines' only reliable and trustworthy ally proven by decades of history of cooperation and mutual support. The Americans liberated our country from the destructive powers of the Japanese Imperial Army which practically pulverized our cities, massacred our people, and ravished our women, and above all, trampled our national self-esteem. The Americans ended 377 years of Spanish domination and colonization, after very long and arduous struggles of our forefathers. The Americans spent billions over half a century of assistance to our country prior to our independence, and still more assistance from our independence up to today. They stood with us and for us in many critical issues in the communities of nations.

Of course, the Americans are not angels, and they have their own national interests to promote and protect. But compared to the Chinese who inundate our markets with cheap and unsafe goods, the Americans are better friends. They welcome our compatriots as migrants to their land of milk and honey. They give citizenship to our veterans who helped them fought the Japanese. Many of these veterans are now residing in that home of the brave and the land of the free. They give us military and economic assistance and stood by us in many crises and national emergencies. Of course, they also get a lot from us, but that is the essence of international reciprocity. Compared to other countries, experience proved that the Americans are our best friends abroad.

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