Philippine justice system

Pemberton may be out of the Philippines ‘in 1 to 2 days’

Lian Buan
Pemberton may be out of the Philippines ‘in 1 to 2  days’
The Bureau of Corrections has started processing the release of Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was granted absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte

US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton may be out of the Philippines “in one to two days” at the soonest, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said this in an interview on radio DZXL on Thursday morning, September 10. He said the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is aiming to finish the release process in just two days, if all requirements are fulfilled.

Asked when the homicide convict woud leave the country, Perete said: “That would depend on Pemberton’s camp if they are able to comply with all the requirements for the release. Kapag nagawa ‘yun, then one to two days ng BuCor, ‘yun tinitingnan nila na time frame (Once they accomplish that, then BuCor is looking at time fram of one to two days).”

BuCor Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag confirmed to reporters that they received the copy of President Rodrigo Duterte’s absolute pardon on Thursday morning.

“BuCor has received from the DOJ a copy of the Absolute Pardon granted to Pemberton and has now started processing his release,” Chaclag said.

“BuCor is now in coordination with relevant agencies that are involved in the process,” Chaclag added.

Pemberton’s lawyer Rowena Garcia Flores said in a message on Thursday morning that they were already “busy.”

“We will meet with people to plan his departure,” said Flores.

Officially, Pemberton will be deported to the United States. BuCor will have to turn over Pemberton’s custody to the Bureau of Immigration for deportation booking.

The deportation booking can be done at the airport itself for immediate process, Perete had earlier said.

Details of his departure, including where his plane would take off, are still unclear at this point. It’s also still unclear if media can cover his departure.

Perete said Pemberton would be escorted by BI agents all the way inside the plane.

Would he be handcuffed? “Sa deportees natin hindi naman handcuffed. Just like any other deportees, ang requirement lang he would be escorted sa plane to make sure na paalis siya ng Pilipinas,” said Perete.

(Deportees are not usually handcuffed. Just like any other deportees, the only requirement is he would be escorted to the plane to make sure he leaves the Philippines.)

Homicide convict

The pardon does not erase his criminal record.

Pemberton, then 19, was part of the US troops in the Philippines for military exercises when he met 26-year old transwoman Jennifer Laude at the red light district in Olongapo City, north of Manila.

At the motel, Pemberton fumed when he discovered that Jennifer had male genitals. He dunked her head onto a toilet bowl, killing her. (PODCAST: KRIMINAL: Where is justice for Jennifer Laude?)

Pemberton was charged and tried for murder, which would have sentenced him to up to 40 years, but the court convicted the soldier only of homicide with a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Pemberton initially scored a court win to avail of full credits under the thorny Good Conduct Time Allowance Law (GCTA), which would have allowed him to walk out only after 6 years in prison. (PODCAST: Law of Duterte Land: GCTA’s thorn – Do bad men deserve good things?)

But after contentions not only from Laude’s family but also from state lawyers and prosecutors, President Rodrigo Duterte stepped in and cut the process short by giving Pemberton absolute pardon. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.