Pemberton camp denies making P21M plea bargain offer

Randy Datu
Pemberton camp denies making P21M plea bargain offer
Defense counsel Benjamin Tolosa Jr says, 'it is an absolute lie, we did not make an offer and it was them who made the P21-million demand when plea bargaining was discussed'

OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – The camp of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US serviceman accused of killing a Filipino transgender woman in October 2014, insists they did not make an offer during the plea bargaining process of the murder trial, claiming the demand came from the Laude family.

“I want to clarify and to put on record straight here it is an absolute lie, we did not make an offer and it was them who made the P21-million demand when plea bargaining was discussed,” lawyer Benjamin Tolosa Jr, one of the defense counsels, said.

Tolosa said he was not supposed to disclose to the media what was discussed during the plea bargaining as agreed by both parties, but added, “The problem is they are insinuating that the demand came from us. It is absolutely denied. The demand came from them.” 

The denial from the camp of Pemberton came as the trial entered its second day on Tuesday, March 24, with the second of the 27 eyewitnesses lined up taking the witness stand.

Mark Clarence “Barbie” Caguioa Gelviro, another transgender woman and a friend of the slain Laude was presented by the prosecution headed by Olongapo City Prosecutor Emelie Fe Delos Santos.

During direct examination, Gelviro was described by a prosecution lawyer as composed, very relaxed, cool and candid and a very good witness.

Gelviro identified and pointed to Pemberton as the one with Laude she left at Celzone Lodge.

No details were available yet on the cross examination as journalists await the media briefing that follows after the trial.

Seen and identified

Pemberton was also identified on Monday by the first witness, cashier Elias Gallamos, as the companion of Laude when they checked in at the Celzone Lodge along Magsaysay Avenue here on the night of October 11 last year.

The transgender was later found dead in the motel room’s toilet. 

Gallamos pointed to Pemberton as the man he saw with Laude that October night.

Pemberton, who was on shore leave after participating in the RP-US Balikatan military exercises, met Laude earlier at the nearby Ambyanz Nightlife Bar. 

Gallamos was cross-examined by Pemberton’s lawyers but details were not made available to journalists, who were barred from entering the court room. 

Pemberton arrived for the hearing at noon, and left the court at 5 pm.

Hours before the Monday trial began, Laude family members – accompanied by lead counsel Harry Roque – went to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila to deliver a letter urging that their private lawyers be allowed “full participation” in the trial.

The Laude family also asked the DOJ to replace De los Santos, who excluded their private lawyers when her team prepared for the March 23 trial. 

The Laudes said they wanted a new public prosecutor “who will not bar or refuse the help of private counsels.” 

De los Santos, who led the prosecution panel when it presented its case Monday, said that without a directive from the department, she would take charge of the case. –

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