Philippines Report

Pemberton to undergo court-martial upon arrival in US, says Roque

Pemberton

The United States government promised that Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton would face court-martial proceedings once he is freed from prison, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced today.

Roque, who was once Jennifer Laude’s lawyer, said that this was said by American officials during their negotiations before the trial started.

“They promised, once he is freed…once he goes home [to the U.S.] they will still proceed with his court-martial proceedings where they will determine if there are additional punishments that they will impose on him and if he is still qualified to remain in service,” Roque said in English and Filipino in his daily press briefing.

Pemberton was convicted in 2015 for strangling Jennifer to death in an Olongapo City motel room after the soldier discovered that she was transgender. He was granted absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte last week because the president said the Marine was treated unfairly by the Philippine government. Prior to Duterte’s decision, an Olongapo court declared that Pemberton is eligible for early release because he allegedly displayed good behavior while in detention, an act that was questioned by the Department of Justice.

Declared an undesirable alien, Pemberton was deported from the Philippines over the weekend after he was released from Camp Aquinaldo.

Pemberton’s release was criticized by Julita Laude, Jennifer’s mother. Julita claimed that Duterte made a promise to their family that the Marine will remain in prison while the president remains in power, a statement that Roque rejected today.

“Mrs. Laude has not met the president. What I know is the president never made that promise. The president promised that he will give justice to Jennifer Laude, and Pemberton ended up in prison for almost six years,” Roque said.

Roque also said that despite Pemberton’s pardon, he was convicted for the crime and left the country in disgrace.

“He was forced to leave our country. That’s what deportation means. That was forced. He didn’t leave voluntarily. We threw him out as an undesirable alien because he is a convicted killer. What the president erased is what remained of his conviction, if there is. But it doesn’t erase the truth that Pemberton is a convicted killer,” he said.

For many years, activists have decried what they alleged was the preferential treatment given to Pemberton, who, as a soldier, was protected by the Visiting Forces Agreement which allowed the U.S. to maintain jurisdiction over American servicemen stationed in the Philippines. The agreement was supposed to be canceled by the Duterte government, but it announced in June that it was postponing its termination.

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