BuCor suspends release of convicted US Marine in killing of transgender Filipina

This undated file photo shows U,S, Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.
| Photo courtesy of Olongapo City Police

THE early release of convicted U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was put on hold on Thursday, September 3 following a motion for reconsideration filed by the victim’s family.

The American serviceman was convicted of homicide on December 1, 2015, for killing transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014. He was sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment.

The Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) revealed on Thursday, September 3, that Laude’s family has asked the court to direct Pemberton to complete his sentence.

“BuCor respects the court processes and will wait for the resolution of the filed motion for reconsideration,” BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said.

“The normal release process is on hold. Pemberton remains under custody of BuCor at its extension facility in Camp Aguinaldo (in Quezon City),” he added.

On Tuesday, September 1, the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court ordered Pemberton’s release, saying the that convicted American serviceman has served the minimum of his sentence for killing Laude on October 11, 2014.

According to the court, Pemberton has served a total of 2,142 days or over five years and eight months in prison. He has also accumulated a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than four years.

GCTA is a sentence reduction provision given to inmates who have shown good conduct during their jail sentence.

“Accused Pemberton has a total accumulated time served with entitled of GCTA of 10 years, one month and 10 days which is more than the 10-year maximum penalty imposed by this court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA),” the court said.

“Thus he is now entitled to be released for he had already served the ten (10) year maximum of his penalty,” it added.

The order was signed by Presiding Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), for its part, said the motion for reconsideration has to be resolved first before Pemberton can be released.

“The BuCor cannot preempt court action on the MR by prematurely releasing Pemberton,” Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete noted.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who once served as the private legal counsel for the Laude family, slammed the order.

“Laude’s death personifies the death of Philippine sovereignty and the light penalty imposed on Pemberton proves that despite the President’s independent foreign policy, that Americans continue to have the status of conquering colonials in our country,” Roque stressed.

Roque also said the order was an act of “judicial overreach.”

“It turns out na ang desisyon po ng hukuman ay labag po o (that the court’s decision is a violation of or) contrary to the recommendation made by the Bureau of Corrections,” he said.

“So ang ginawa po ni judge na siya na ang nag-desisyon kung paano siya bibigyan ng (the judge’s action deciding on giving) credit for good conduct is an instance of judicial overreach),” he added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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