Special treatment?
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - December 6, 2015 - 9:00am

No special treatment. This is what President Aquino stressed when asked about Joseph Scott Pemberton's detention facility being upgraded at the request of the US government. Pemberton was recently found guilty of homicide by an Olongapo City court in the death of transgender Jennifer Laude. He was sentenced six to twelve years in prison. But as the court ordered he be taken to the New Bilibid Prisons, his American escorts prevented local officials from taking him into custody and instead, brought him back to his air-conditioned container at Camp Aguinaldo where he has been detained for more than a year, citing the Visiting Forces Agreement(VFA) regarding crimes committed by American military personnel.

The detention facility at Camp Aguinaldo is currently being renovated to receive its new resident. But now, the US wants more renovations to meet what they call "American standards", even willing to foot the bill. A request for CCTV cameras, a fresh coat of paint, a kitchen and even air-conditioning. This is where an uproar is brewing. Do Filipino criminals enjoy such treatment? Some may say that the "Bilibid 19" do, and then some. The current shakedown at the NBP reveals a lot about the prison. But the question being asked is a valid one. Are American prisons air-conditioned? I know that prisons in America are far better than the New Bilibid Prisons. But air-conditioning? 

The VFA is being cited as the reason for such requests and apparent special treatment. It is now apparent that American military personnel involved and convicted of crimes committed in the country will have preferential treatment over usual Filipino criminals, in that they will never see the inside of a prison cell. The VFA guarantees that, as agreed by both parties. The President did stress that the detention facility will be run by the Bureau of Corrections. Does this mean Pemberton's American escorts will finally leave the country? Or will they continue to stay to ensure the much better treatment for Pemberton? That he won't be whisked away to the NBP.

If this is what is stipulated in the VFA, then as a signatory we are bound to abide by all the rules and conditions therein. But we cannot blame those who see it as an affront to our sovereignty. A Filipino life has been taken. The supposedly "different treatment," let's just call it that, may seem to trivialize the crime. And it raises the concern that future incidents may continue, with the knowledge that American military personnel have their Uncle Sam watching their backs, no matter what.

korina_abs@yahoo.com

 

 

A FILIPINO AMERICAN ARE AMERICAN BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS CAMP AGUINALDO DO FILIPINO JENNIFER LAUDE JOSEPH SCOTT PEMBERTON NEW BILIBID PRISONS PEMBERTON QUOT
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