Laude lawyer mulls raps vs Pemberton guards
Lawyers of slain transgender Filipino woman Jennifer Laude said they were considering filing charges against security personnel guarding homicide convict US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton at his detention facility in Camp Aguinaldo if they continue to resist the transfer of the American soldier to the national penitentiary.
This possibility was floated by lawyer Harry Roque, one of the legal counsels for the family of Laude, whom Pemberton has been found guilty of killing.
In a phone interview with the Inquirer on Wednesday, Roque maintained that Pemberton’s continued detention in the Joint US Military Assistance Group (Jusmag) compound in Camp Aguinaldo constituted “disobedience of a local court order,” as the Olongapo court, which heard the case, originally ordered Pemberton to be jailed at New Bilibid Prison.
On Tuesday, an Olongapo court sentenced Pemberton to between six and 12 years in prison at the national penitentiary for killing Laude, but US security personnel guarding Pemberton refused to hand him over to the police to be brought to Bilibid while his lawyers quickly filed a motion asking the court to clarify where he should be detained under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
MOA in 5 days
The court later issued a ruling directing the Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the PNP and the US Embassy to issue within five days a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on where Pemberton would be detained. The court ruled that Pemberton, in the meantime, be held in his former detention facility at the Jusmag compound in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) personnel are currently guarding Pemberton’s detention facility—a gray container.
On Wednesday, media personnel spotted around the perimeter of the Jusmag compound were asked to leave.
Roque said their camp would wait until the submission of the MOA, but said that they were mulling pressing charges “if they don’t turn over custody [of Pemberton].”
“Even Pemberton’s guards, we could include them in the charges,” Roque warned, adding it was a crime to “refuse to comply with local orders.”
An earlier statement by Roque and the other lawyers of the Laude family said they were “studying all legal options, including the possibility of an appeal on the homicide verdict.”
Subservience of PH gov’t
“We call on the Philippine government to take custody of Pemberton and forthwith commit him to prison to serve his sentence at the national penitentiary,” the statement read.
“We fear a repeat of the Smith case, where an American serviceman convicted of rape by a Makati [City] Regional Trial Court was spirited away by US authorities with the assistance of Filipino officials from Makati City Jail in the dead of night before he could be transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa [City]. The subservience of Philippine authorities to US interests on our own territory must end,” the statement added.
The complainant against Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, identified in media reports as “Nicole,” later withdrew her complaint.
Meanwhile, Department of National Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Reuben Galvez mentioned to reporters yesterday that a new detention facility was being prepared for Pemberton at the Armed Forces of the Philippines custodial center at the Intelligence Service of the AFP compound.
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