Laude camp to SC: Order Pemberton’s move to Olongapo jail

Laude camp to SC: Order Pemberton’s move to Olongapo jail
The sisters of slain Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude want the US soldier's transfer from a Philippine military camp to the Olongapo City Jail

MANILA, Philippines – The sisters of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order the transfer of murder suspect US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton from a Philippine military camp to the Olongapo City Jail.

In a petition for certiorari filed on Thursday, April 16, petitioners Marilou and Mesehilda Laude asked the High Court to reverse the order of Roline Jinez-Jabalde, presiding judge of Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74.

The petitioners said Jabalde committed grave abuse of discretion when she dismissed the urgent motion to compel the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to surrender custody of Pemberton to the Olongapo City Jail “on mere technicalities.”

The Laudes also said that according to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) signed between the Philippines and the United States, the Philippines should have primary jurisdiction over Pemberton while his case is being tried by a Philippine court.

Pemberton is currently detained at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. The AFP chief earlier said the US Marine is under the joint custody of Filipino and American soldiers.

Pemberton is facing a murder charge for the killing of Laude in October 2014.

Witnesses said he was the last person seen with Laude before she was found dead in the bathroom of a motel in Olongapo City.

Transfer Pemberton

In December 2014, Jabalde denied the Laude family’s urgent motion requesting Pemberton’s transfer to the Olongapo City Jail.

Jabalde said the motion violated the three-day notice rule, which requires the conformity of the public prosecutor, Emilie Fe Delos Santos, in any pleading filed by a private complainant with the court in the criminal proceeding.

But the Laudes said that the three-day notice rule is not absolute, adding that the circumstances of the case “demand the liberal application” of the rule.

In their petition, the Laude camp also said that the refusal of Philippine authorities to place Pemberton in the custody of Philippine jail authorities is unconstitutional because it “undermines the constitutional powers of courts to hear a jurisdictional matter brought before it.”

The Laudes asked the High Court to issue a writ of mandatory injunction ordering Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, AFP Chief Gregorio Pio Catapang, and Delos Santos to “immediately work out and effect” Pemberton’s turnover. 

In their petition, the Laude camp also asked the SC to declare parts of the VFA unconstitutional “insofar as it impairs the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules for practice before it, including the Rules of Criminal Procedure.”


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