Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton made a very grave mistake that has had some far-reaching effects on his life. He was stationed in the Philippines, and he was with one of the local Filipino women.
However, when the Marine found out that the woman was not born as a woman (i.e. she was “transgender“), he got violent with her and choked her to death. Needless to say, the locals in the Philippines were not happy with Corporal Pemberton, and a judge ultimately sentenced him to a term of six-to-ten years for the offense.
However, Pemberton now has a new lease on life because he was granted a pardon by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. He will ultimately be freed due to this.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted that Pemberton was granted an “absolute pardon” by President Duterte so that he could “do justice.” However, Locsin did not elaborate anything else other than that.
Of course, there are many left-wing groups that are upset about this decision. The group Karapatan condemned this pardon, calling it a “despicable and shameless mockery designed to simply be subservient to American imperialist interests.” They convicted Pemberton of homicide after he killed Jennifer Laude in a Olongapo city hotel room just outside of Manila.
Harry Roque is a spokesman for President Duterte, and he also once served as a lawyer for the Laude family. He noted that this presidential pardon would mean an immediate release of Pemberton from any further incarceration. “The president has essentially erased any type of punishment that should be imposed on Pemberton,” he said.
“However, what the president did not do was to release the conviction. Pemberton is still a killer.” Pemberton lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores expressed her relief over President Duterte’s decision and said that the Marine was even willing to offer a belated apology to the Laude family. It will be too little too late for the family, simply because the Regional Trial Court had already made a move to release Pemberton early for good behavior and they appealed the order.
This pardon has actually rekindled some Filipino perceptions that visiting American military members will often get preferential treatment when they break Philippine laws. There are some who believe that these service members are unfairly protected under the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Pemberton was an anti-tank missile operator originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was participating in joint exercises in the country in 2014 and he was on leave from that when he met Laude and a few friends at a neighboring bar that was known for its nightlife. The bar was located just outside of Subic Bay, known as a former U.S. Navy base.
Of course, Philippine authorities later found Laude dead and with her head slumped over a toilet bowl in Pemberton’s motel room. A witness turned Pemberton in, saying that Laude was choked after she admitted to Pemberton that she was transgender.
In December 2015 Pemberton was convicted of homicide. Naturally, prosecutors wanted him convicted of the worst charge of murder, but the judge downgraded it because prosecutors couldn’t prove enough brutality for the charge. Pemberton was serving his sentence in a compound in the center of Manila that is jointly guarded by both Philippine and American military.
What do YOU think about the fact this man was pardoned?