Homicide convict US Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was treated unfairly after his behavior while detained and in prison was not duly monitored by Philippine authorities for good conduct time credits, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte made the remarks hours after news broke about his decision to grant Pemberton absolute pardon amid questions on the computation of his good conduct time allowance which the court said led to its order for release.
"'Pag walang record di mo malaman kung nabilang ba o hindi. Pag ka ganon hindi kasalanan ni Pemberton. He is not required to keep a record of his own and characterize his behavior while inside the prison," Duterte said.
"So sabi ko kay Justice Secretary [Menardo Guevarra], [Executive Secretary Salvador] Medialdea... 'Correct me if I'm wrong but ito ang tingin ko sa kaso. You have not treated Pemberton fairly. So i-release mo'," he added.
"Pardon. Ang pardon walang maka-question niyan. Kaligayahan ko na lang magpakulong ng mga buang, mga gago but it is time that you are called upon to be fair, be fair," Duterte said.
Pemberton was sentenced to six to ten years in prison for homicide in connection with the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.
He was convicted the same year.
Locsin broke the news of Pemberton's pardon late Monday afternoon.
"Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained was not in the prisoner’s control—and to do justice—the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace," Locsin said on Twitter.
Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the President’s action.
“Binura na po ng Presidente kung ano pa ‘yung parusa na ipapataw kay Pemberton,” Roque, who once served as legal counsel for victim Jennifer Laude's family, said in an interview. “Puwede na po siyang umuwi dahil meron na po siyang pardon.”
Roque said Duterte need not justify his decision.
“Hindi na po kinakailangan bigyan ng dahilan ng Presidente ‘yan dahil 'yung pag-grant ng pardon at parole at iyan naman po ang ating sinasabi na hindi po ‘yan katungkulan ng hudikatura kundi katungkulan ng ehekutibo,” he said.
The Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City last week ordered Pemberton's early release.
The court pointed to good conduct time allowance credits gained by Pemberton due to his good behavior.
Laude's lawyers have indicated that they would appeal the court's ruling. -NB, GMA News