Diskarte ni Duterte! PH envoy to US: Washington never asked pardon for Pemberton
The United States never asked President Rodrigo Duterte to pardon American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton, Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez said.
In his September 13 column for the Philippine Star, Romualdez said the only time Pemberton’s situation was discussed officially was when he and then-US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris (now US Ambassador to South Korea) talked at the Philippine embassy in Washington, DC.
“He (Harris) merely inquired about the status of Joseph Pemberton and how long the American Marine would be serving in prison. I told Admiral Harris that Pemberton received a 10-year sentence, and I remember mentioning to him that perhaps if Pemberton showed good behavior, he could be given a parole which is done under our justice system,” Romualdez said.
The Philippine diplomat said both Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. and outgoing US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim were both surprised when Duterte announced he was pardoning Pemberton while they were in Malacañang for Kim’s farewell call on September 7.
“Secretary Locsin, who called me in Washington, D.C. about the pardon, told me the President saw it fit to issue the pardon since Pemberton was alone in the detention facility and it could be assumed that he was on good behavior, making him qualify for GCTA (Good Conduct Time Allowance),” Romualdez said.
Pemberton was sentenced to six to 10 years in jail for killing transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude in 2014. Prior to Duterte’s pardon, an Olongapo court ordered the US soldier’s release on the argument that he already served his sentence due to the GCTA credits he accumulated while in prison.
Romualdez said Duterte felt pardoning Pemberton was the “right thing to do” because his release could be set back by a year due to legal issues.
“Having been a prosecutor, the President is familiar with legal procedures and so he felt that the right thing to do was to give executive clemency to Pemberton because the whole process could take months and maybe another year before the release could take effect,” he said.