Pemberton to serve sentence in Camp Aguinaldo
OLONGAPO CITY—The judge, who convicted US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton of homicide for the death of transgender woman Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, directed government authorities to commit the American soldier to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ custodial center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74 here issued an amended order on Tuesday, a day after Eduardo Oban Jr., executive director of the Philippine Commission on the Visiting Forces (PCVF), complied with an earlier court order for him to submit a memorandum of agreement (MOA) specifying where Pemberton should be detained under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), said lawyer Gerry Gruspe, RTC Branch 74 clerk of court.
The court’s original commitment order issued on Dec. 1 directed the Philippine National Police to hold Pemberton at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City pending an agreement between the Philippine and the US governments on where the soldier would be held.
Gruspe said the AFP custodial center is under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). He, however, declined to give details of the amended order.
“The amended commitment order was based on the MOA that Oban brought to the court on Monday. It was indicated in the MOA that the concerned government authorities agreed that Pemberton must be detained at the AFP custodial center in Camp Aguinaldo,” Gruspe said.
A representative sent by Oban got a copy of the order from the court on Wednesday morning, he said.
But lawyer Harry Roque Jr., lead counsel of the Laude family, said Laude’s relatives will file on Dec. 14 three counts of contempt charges against Oban and Pemberton’s American security escorts for supposedly defying the court’s order.
“After rendering its verdict, the court ordered that Pemberton be detained at the NBP but it was defied by Oban and Pemberton’s American security escorts, which led to a standoff,” he said.
The two-hour standoff only ended when Jabalde acted on a motion filed by Pemberton’s lawyers seeking clarification on the facility where the soldier should be detained.
Oban had told Jabalde that Philippine authorities, composed of representatives of the BuCor, Department of Justice and PNP, had a prior agreement that Pemberton would be confined at the AFP custodial center in Camp Aguinaldo. This prompted Jabalde to issue a new order allowing Pemberton to be temporarily detained at AFP custodial center pending the submission of the written agreement.
Had the PCVF failed to submit the agreement on Dec. 7, Jabalde said the Dec. 1 commitment order would be enforced. Former Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, who earlier supervised Pemberton’s prosecution, had told reporters in Metro Manila that talks between the Philippines and the US started in August to settle the soldier’s place of confinement once he is convicted. He said representatives of the two governments had agreed that Pemberton would be held at the AFP custodial center.
Lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores, Pemberton’s counsel, said they have until Dec. 16 to file a motion for reconsideration or notice of appeal.
“We are still studying our [legal] remedies,” Flores told the Inquirer in a text message on Monday.
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