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Roque denies he favored parole for Pemberton

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday denied the claim of the camp of detained US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton that he favored an early release for the man who killed Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

“I vehemently deny that. That is a lie,” Roque, former counsel for the Laude family, said in a televised briefing.

Pemberton’s lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores earlier said Roque, then a party-list lawmaker, agreed in 2017 that the American serviceman be released on parole. She said Laude’s mother was also present in the alleged meeting.

“Kung ako po ay pumayag [noong] 2017 eh bakit hanggang ngayon ay nakakulong pa si Pemberton? It doesn’t make sense,” Roque said.

“I think sinabi niya iyan para lang i-explain kung bakit hindi binigyan ng pagkakataon na madinig ang pamilyang Laude, pero wala pong katotohanan iyan.”

Roque said he would ask the House of Representatives to issue a certification whether Flores visited his office “at any time in the year of 2017.”

The Palace official on Wednesday denounced the decision of an Olongapo City court to order the release of Pemberton, who was convicted of homicide in 2015, adding Laude’s death signified the “death of Philippine sovereignty.”

“As I’ve said, the death of Jennifer Laude is symbolic of the death of Philippines’ sovereignty,” Roque said.

“Saan kayo nakakita ang krimen nangyari sa Pilipinas, ang biktima Pilipino, ni hindi natin nahawakan si Pemberton noong nililitis siya at ngayon bagamat symbolically hawak natin sila ay nandoon pa rin iyong mga Amerikanong mga sundalo.”

Despite only being five years into his prison term of six to 10 years, Pemberton was ordered released because the judge took into account the good conduct time allowances (GCTA) he had accumulated while detained.

The court said that this amounts to a total of 3,690 days, or 10 years, one month, and 10 days -- more than the 10-year maximum penalty.

Laude's family immediately filed an appeal, arguing that there is no proof of Pemberton's supposed good behavior. The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) then said it would not release Pemberton pending the resolution of the appeal.

Pemberton is still detained at the BuCor's extension facility at Camp Aguinaldo. — RSJ, GMA News