Filipino celebrities – from the entertainment and creative industries – expressed dismay, frustration, and anger after President Rodrigo Duterte granted absolute pardon to US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton on Monday, September 7.
Pemberton was convicted in 2015 for killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was set to be released 4 years early after he was recently granted full credits of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) under Philippine law.
Duterte then granted him absolute pardon, hastening the US Marine's pending release.
Photographer BJ Pascual, an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues, shared a series of tweets about the Pemberton case.
“Miss @NaomiFontanos said it best: ‘Kung isa kang trans person at isa kung ka-#DDS o supporter ni President Duterte, ang ibig sabihin ng pag-pardon niya kay Joseph Scott Pemberton ay walang halaga ang buhay mo tulad ni Jennifer Laude,” he tweeted.
(Miss Naomi Fontanto said it best: If you are a trans person and you are a DDS or supporter of President Duterte, his pardon of Joseph Scott Pemberton means your life, like Jennifer Laude's, means nothing.)
In another tweet, BJ shared a picture of Laude’s mom Julita, as well as a post he made on Facebook.
Actor Alex Diaz did not hide his dismay, tweeting: "This is the Philippines we live in. #JUSTICEFORJENNIFERLAUDE."
In another tweet, he wrote: “I don’t want to sound like I'm taking importance away from other movements that have gained worldwide attention but the pardoning of the monster who murdered Jennifer Laude by the monster who runs our government makes me wish we got the attention of the world. We need Justice.”
Jervi Li, better known as the comedian KaladKaren, wrote: “Hustisya mula sa sariling bansa ang inaasahan ni Jennifer at kanyang pamilya. Bakit parang mas pinaboran pa po ang iba.”
(Justice is what Jennifer and her family expected from her own country. But why do we seem to favor others?)
Spoken word artist Juan Miguel Severo made a number of posts and used the hashtags #TransLivesMatter and #JusticeForJenniferLaude. He also shared the statement of the production team behind the BL series Gaya Sa Pelikula.
"The government is transphobic. The government deems a white murderer's life more important than that of our trans sisters. We deserve better. Jennifer Laude's memory deserves better," he said.
Director Samantha Lee simply tweeted "WTF."
Director and producer Percy Intalan showed support for Jennifer and her family. "For you Jennifer and for all our sisters and brothers and friends and family who we lost in this fight for equality, we shall keep shining the light and spreading the love until discrimination and intolerance have no place in this world."
Comedian Macoy Dubs said the decision was a slap in the face for the trans community.
Gaya Sa Pelikula actor Ian Pangilinan tweeted: "Released for good behavior... di lang ganun yung katumbas ng isang buhay, utang na loob. #JusticeForJenniferLaude #TransLivesMatter." (Released for good behavior...that shouldn't be the worth of one life.)
Actress Liza Soberano said she was disappointed by the pardon.
In another tweet, she said: "Another question, you think this murderer (I'm not even gonna say his name) wasn’t treated fairly but, was it fair that Jennifer Laude was murdered out of hate just because of her sexual orientation?"
"So a murder was just released for good conduct. Are we supposed to just forget that he killed Jennifer Laude because he’s done some good?"
In both tweets, the actress used the hashtag #TransLivesMatter.