Content warning: This article discusses transphobia and a graphic account of anti-transgender violence and murder
After spending six years in a detention facility in Camp Aguinaldo, paying P4,655,250 in civil damages and being granted “absolute pardon” by President Rodrigo Duterte, Jennifer Laude’s convicted killer US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton walks free today.
According to the Bureau of Immigration, an American military aircraft flew him out from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the morning of Sept. 13.
“Pemberton has successfully been deported, military plane left at exactly 9:14 this morning,” Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval told INQUIRER.net.
Back in 2015, the Olongapo Regional Trial Court found Pemberton guilty of brutally killing Laude and sentenced him to six to 12 years in jail (but was reduced to a maximum of 10 in 2016). The US Marine admitted in court that he choked her after finding out that she was a trans woman with police reports noting that Laude’s body was found slumped over a toilet bowl showing evidence that she was “apparently strangled.”
Earlier today, the United States Embassy in Manila insisted that Pemberton fulfilled his sentence and “all legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law.” It was also noted in their statement that the Department of Justice ordered his release on Sept. 1 and he was granted “absolute pardon” by President Duterte on Sept. 7. According to a report from INQUIRER.net, Pemberton was blacklisted by the Bureau of Immigration despite his pardon due to his conviction of homicide, “a crime of moral turpitude, which made him an undesirable alien.”
“As a consequence of the deportation order against him, Pemberton has been placed in the Bureau’s blacklist, perpetually banning him from coming back,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
If it weren’t for President Duterte’s “absolute pardon,” Pemberton wouldn’t be able to walk free today. This came as a shock to Laude’s family because the president himself gave them financial aid while they pursued the case in 2017 and promised to keep Pemberton in jail under his term.
“Siya pa mismo nagbigay ng tulong pinansyal nuon dahil masaya raw siya na pinakipaglaban namin ang kaso dahil sabi niya na hangga’t siya raw ang nakaupo, hinding hindi niya papayagan na makalaya si Pemberton,” Laude’s mother Julita said through their family lawyer Viginia Suarez.
“Ayos lang sana kung hindi siya nagbigay ng absolute pardon, para kahit papaano ay may laban naman kami…sampung taong pagkakakulong lang sana ang hinihingi naming kabayaran para sa buhay ng anak ko, sampung taon lang sana. Napaka-iksing panahong kabayarang pagkakakulong para sa buhay ng anak ko,” she added.
Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Immigration
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