Senator Imee Marcos on Monday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for granting absolute pardon to a US Marine who was convicted of killing a transgender woman in 2014, saying it shows that the Philippine-US relations is "very deep and very cordial."
"The Philippines took jurisdiction over the case as mandated by the Visiting Forces Agreement. Justice has been served with the Philippine judicial system functioning in accordance with its constitutional duties," Marcos said in a message.
"The role of the president in issuing a pardon is to prevent any future discordant issues that opposition politicians would try to exploit. The president has laid the issue to rest and we thank him for it," she added.
Marcos said Pemberton went to the Philippines for "traditional friendly military exercises."
"It was unfortunate that this had to happen," she added, presumably referring to Pemberton killing 26-year-old Jennifer Laude by drowning her in a toilet.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier announced the President's decision.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte does not have to justify his move.
"Binura na po ng Presidente kung ano pa ‘yung parusa na ipapataw kay Pemberton. Puwede na po siyang umuwi dahil meron na po siyang pardon," Roque said.
"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 added.
On the other hand, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said Duterte's grant of an absolute pardon to Pemberton was meant to divert the attention of the public from the government's alleged weak COVID-19 response.
"This questionable and highly controversial pardon helps to redirect and divert the public's attention away from the incompetent, corrupt and failing COVID campaign," he said.
Last week, the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City ordered the early release of Pemberton, who was sentenced to a six- to 10-year imprisonment for killing Laude.
Pemberton earned good conduct time allowances (GCTA), according to Judge Roline Ginez-Abalde, but the Bureau of Corrections later suspended Pemberton's release after the Laude family appealed against it. — BM/KG, GMA News