Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite on Thursday questioned the decision of an Olongapo court to release Joseph Scott Pemberton who was convicted for the killing of transwoman Jennifer Laude.
“We call on the concerned court to review its decision to release Pemberton and to immediately table the appeal of Jennifer Laude’s family,” the Makabayan lawmaker said.
“Nakakadismaya na special treatment na nga si Pemberton sa pagtupad sa kanyang sentensya, ay maaga pa siyang lalaya,” Gaite said.
“He never spent one single day in a Philippine prison. Instead, he was kept in an American facility, guarded by his fellow American soldiers, and possibly given the best treatment a convicted criminal could wish for,” he said.
“Hindi ko alam kung masasabi talaga natin na naparusahan siya para sa kanyang karumal-dumal na krimen,” said Gaite.
The decision also prompted renewed calls for the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, a move which the Duterte government had repeatedly threatened to do but has yet to carry out.
“We further reiterate our long standing call for the immediate abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. This agreement has not only resulted in the murder of Jennifer Laude but also made the special treatment of an American criminal possible,” said Gaite.
“Malinaw na malinaw sa kasong ito kung gaano ka-tagibang laban sa Pilipinas, sa mga Pilipino ang VFA,” he said.
“Habang inilalagay ng kasunduang ito sa panganib ng pang-aabuso at karahasan ang ating mamamayan, tinitiyak naman nito na ang mga abusadong sundalong Kano ay mapoprotektahan at maaalagaan. Kailangan na talaga itong ibasura,” Gaite said.