Pemberton to return to Camp Aguinaldo

MANILA, Philippines – US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted of homicide of transgender woman Jennifer Laude in a Philippine court on Tuesday, December 1, will be temporarily detained at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center instead of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), as earlier ordered by the court.

The new order was issued by the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74 on Tuesday, December 1, following an urgent motion for clarification filed by Pemberton's counsel asking the court to direct his confinement to the AFP custodial center instead.

Hours earlier, the court sentenced Pemberton to 6 to 12 years imprisonment and ordered his temporary detention at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, while the governments of the United States of America and the Philippines clarify provisions of the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) over where Pemberton should be incarcerated. 

Based on provisions of the agreement, convicted US personnel will be detained in a facility mutually agreed upon by the two countries.

Philippine Commission on Visiting Forces executive director Eduardo Oban Jr manifested in open court that Philippine government authorities "agreed that the accused, when necessary, shall be confined at the AFP Custodial Center, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City and under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections."

Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde ordered Oban to submit within 5 days the memorandum of agreement (MOA) entered into by the VFA commission and the written agreement between representatives of the United States and the Philippines.

In the meantime, the US serviceman will be temporarily detained at the AFP Custodial Center in Camp Aguinaldo under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections.

 

Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te also said that based on the judge's order, failure to submit the agreement and the inter-agency MOA "will result in enforcement of the commitment order sending [Pemberton] to NBP."

 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier said in a statement that Pemberton will be detained at Camp Aguinaldo until his appeal is decided with finality.

"It is possible that L/Cpl. Pemberton may be transferred to another detention facility at some point, as provided under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the governments of the Philippines and United States of America," the statement read.

Pemberton was found guilty more than a year after he was tagged in the killing of 26-year-old Laude in Olongapo City.

In October 2014, the Filipino transgeder woman was found dead in the bathroom of a motel. 

Autopsy reports later said that she died by asphyxiation due to drowning and strangulation.

Witnesses identified Pemberton as the last person seen checking in at the motel with Laude, whom he met at a nearby bar. Pemberton had been on shore leave from his US military ship the night he met Laude.

In August 2015, Pemberton admitted strangling Laude but claimed it was in "self defense." Rappler.com