US Marine Pemberton surrenders in Olongapo court
US Marine Pemberton surrenders in Olongapo court
US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton surrenders

MANILA, Philippines – In a much-awaited public appearance, the US serviceman suspected of murdering a transgender Filipino woman voluntarily surrenders Friday.

Buena Bernal files this video blog.

It was a quick voluntary surrender here in Olongapo City for US visiting soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton, suspect in the murder of transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude.

The Laude camp describes Pemberton in a gray suit and in handcuffs escorted by US Marines in white polo long sleeves. This is his first public appearance after the tragic death of the 26-year-old transgender Visayan native that shook the LGBT community and reignited calls to end US military drills on Philippine soil.

Security was tight. Small crowds gathered to support the Laude family. Members of the press were barred from entering the court room – a rule slammed by private counsel for the Laude family, who also said the marine must be detained in a local jail.

Instead, clerk of court Gerry Gruspe says the court has ordered Pemberton’s detention still inside the Philippine military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Laude’s sister Marilou – still reeling from the loss of Jennifer – finds this unfair.

MARILOU LAUDE, SISTER OF JENNIFER: No special treatment. Equal treatment. Kung ano yung mga nangyari, kung ano yung mga ginagawa, o kung ano yung trinatrato ng mga ordinaryong nakakulong, ganon din ang trato sa kanya. (No special treatment. Equal treatment. Whatever is happening, whatever is being done, or whatever is the treatment for ordinary detainees, that is how he should be treated.)

Marilou vows to attend every hearing no matter how long it takes.

Witnesses said Pemberton arrived quietly through a cut-down portion of the metal fence here in the back exit of the justice hall at around 5 am. He left before 10 am, hidden from the glaring eyes of the media.

Buena Bernal, Rappler, Manila –

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