Homicide convict Pemberton guarded by Filipino soldiers–Lorenzana
US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, detained at Camp Aguinaldo, is guarded by Filipino soldiers and not US troops, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana assured lawmakers on Wednesday.
Lorenzana made this assurance before the House of Representatives appropriations committee hearing the Department of National Defense’s proposed P178.2 billion budget for 2017.
“Nasa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo ngayon. Nakakulong siya doon at siya ay ginagwardiyahan ng mga gwardya ng Bureau of Prison (Correction),” Lorenzana said when asked by Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, who was the lawyer who secured the homicide conviction of Pemberton for killing transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.
(He’s in Camp Aguinaldo now. He’s detained there and is being guarded by Bureau of Prison Correction guards.)
Roque said he asked the question because the last time he heard when he was handling the case was that Pemberton was detained at the detention facility of the Joint US Military Assistance Group after his conviction by the Olongapo Regional Trial Court in December 2015.
The murder charge was downgraded to homicide absent the aggravating circumstances of treachery and abuse of superior strength, after the jury found that Pemberton was under the influence of alcohol and that Laude did not disclose her gender from the US Marine when they had sex.
After a night of drinking at a bar in Subic, Pemberton and Laude checked in at a motel. Pemberton shoved Laude’s head on the toilet where she drowned after Pemberton found out that Laude was a transgender.
When Roque asked whether or not Pemberton’s detention facility in Camp Aguinaldo was airconditioned, Lorenzana said he had not yet visited the detention facility, even though this was located just beside his quarters.
Lorenzana said Pemberton is being guarded by Filipino soldiers.
Roque asked: “Will you allow the presence of US soldiers to guard him in his facility after he was convicted?”
“No,” Lorenzana tersely answered.
Pemberton’s conviction and a jail term of 10 years remain a contentious issue in the Philippines, which has an agreement with the United States about the visiting rights of American troops in the country.
While the Visiting Forces Agreement grants the Philippines jurisdiction over US troops who commit crimes in the country not linked to their official duties, the US has custody over the military official from commission of the offense until the completion of the judicial proceedings.
The court committed Pemberton to serve his sentence at the AFP custodial center in line with a memorandum of agreement between the Philippine Commission on the Visiting Forces, the Bureau of Corrections, the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police pertaining to Pemberton’s detention. The court earlier committed Pemberton to serve his sentence at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. CDG
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