“Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton should be jailed in the Philippines.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Youth, women and LGBT groups picketed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) here today, Oct. 21, to protest the agency’s deportation order for US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, the accused in the brutal slay of Filipina transgender Jennifer Laude.
The groups said the deportation order may just be one of the “maneuvers” to grant freedom to Pemberton.
“While it is correct that Pemberton is a criminal and an undesirable alien, we are worried that the ruling could be conditioning the public mood for deportation instead of jail time in the country. Pemberton should be jailed in the Philippines,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
In a five-page resolution on Sept. 16, the BI said Pemberton should be deported for being an undesirable alien.
The deportation order will be implemented only upon clearance from the Olongapo City regional trial court branch 74. If Pemberton is acquitted, he will immediately be deported to the US.
Christian Lloyd Magsoy, Anakbayan-Metro Manila chairperson, said Pemberton’s deportation is tantamount to granting his freedom, in spite of his admission of having strangled Laude.
“Again, we are betrayed by (President) Aquino and the justice system of his Tuwid na Daan,” he said.
Women and LGBT groups led the commemoration of Laude’s death on Oct. 11, with calls to convict Pemberton and imprison him in a local jail.
The groups also called for the revocation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) which allow US military presence in the country.
“Filipinos are murdered, raped and maltreated in our own country, and yet the criminals get away with it because our own government is the one granting them freedom,” said Magsoy.
In a statement, Harry Roque, the private lawyer of the Laude family, welcomed the BI order, saying it was at the behest of the victim’s family. But Pemberton must first serve his sentence.
“It proves that he is indeed an undesirable alien arising from the killing of Jennifer. This notwithstanding, his deportation should be after he serves his sentence, if found guilty. Any contrary ruling will accord him with impunity,” Roque said.
Pemberton remains in US custody inside a US facility in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. The case is awaiting the decision of Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde, who is expected to come out with a resolution on or before Dec. 14, the end of the one-year provision under the VFA for criminal cases filed against US servicemen.