MANILA, Sept 4 (Mabuhay) — A lawyer for the family of Jennifer Laude said Friday that convicted US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is not entitled to good conduct-based deductions to the time he serves in prison.
Rommel Bagares of the Center for International Law said Pemberton is unqualified for good conduct time allowances (GCTA) because there is no agreement between the US and the Philippines stating that he is covered by the GCTA law.
Bagares explained that Pemberton’s trial was governed by the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement, which has a provision on jurisdiction over US personnel who committed crimes in the Philippines.
Citing decisions by the Supreme Court, he said: “Malinaw dito na kung hindi nagkaroon ng agreement na isasama ‘yung GCTA law sa mga bagay na kanyang ie-enjoy ay hindi ito pwedeng gamitin dahil mismong sinabi ng Korte Suprema, kailangan specific ‘yung agreement.”
“Walang ganong agreement patungkol doon. Ang limitasyon lang ng agreement ay doon lamang ito sa kung saan siya makukulong pagkatapos ng conviction,” Bagares said.
He said Pemberton cannot invoke the equal protection clause because the SC itself ruled that there is a substantial difference between foreign military armed forces in the country and other people accused of crimes.
In the 2015 case of Laude vs. Jabalde, the SC said “there is a substantial basis for a different treatment of a member of a foreign military armed forces allowed to enter our territory and all other accused.”
Pemberton was convicted of homicide over the killing of Laude, a 26-year-old Filipino transgender woman, in Olongapo City in 2014. He was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison.
He appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court but withdrew his petition this year, prompting the SC to declare the case “closed and terminated.”
A trial court ordered his release this week despite his having served just over five years out of his six-to-10-year prison term. This was because the court counted the GCTAs Pemberton had supposedly accumulated on top of his actual time served.
But Philippine authorities have suspended Pemberton’s release while waiting for the court to resolve the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration.(MNS)