During the September 10 Malacañang press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that the reason President Rodrigo Duterte granted U.S. soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton an absolute pardon was to secure the Philippines as a beneficiary of the USA’s future coronavirus vaccine.
“Sa tingin ko naman na itong decision niya, itong personal opinion ko, ang pagbibigay ng pardon kay Pemberton ay kabahagi ng pagnanais ng Presidente na kapag mayroong vaccine na ma-develop, kung sa America man, ay makikinabang din ang Pilipinas,” Roque said, adding that this was just his personal opinion and did not come from Duterte.
Roque previously said that Duterte’s pardon was “grounded on a broader national interest.” and has no problem with the pardoning if it indeed will benefit the Filipinos.
“At sa akin po, bagamat tayo po ang tumayong abogado ng pamilyang Laude, eh kung ang ibig sabihin naman niyan ay lahat ng Pilipino ay magkakaroon ng vaccine kung ang Amerika ay maka develop, wala akong problema diyan,” said Roque.
“Our interest is saving lives by having the vaccine to fight this pandemic,” he added.
Duterte earlier said that Pemberton wasn’t treated fairly by the authorities, hence the absolute pardon.
Roque’s latest remarks come after public outrage over Duterte’s absolute pardon for Pemberton, who brutally killed a transgender woman, Jennifer Laude, in 2014, supposedly for failing to tell him she was originally a man before they had sex.
The LGBTQ community did not like Duterte’s decision, understandably.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr on the other said that the decision was to “cut matters short” and “do justice.”
Roque also said that talks about Pemberton’s pardon could’ve been brought up in an April phone call between Duterte and President Donald Trump. The call was about the pandemic.
Trump has promised America that its soldiers who are detained in foreign countries will be coming home eventually.