Chairperson of the Philippine Army Multi-Sectoral Advisory Board’s Strategic Communication Committee Robin Padilla agreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s absolute pardon of Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US marine who was convicted of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.
In one of his Instagram posts, Padilla said that what Duterte was right.
“Tama ang ginawa ni Mayor PRRD,” he said.
“It was the most compassionate decision not only for the Americans but for us as well. One way or the other we will soon need them and this pardon strengthens that bond of friendship between us people,” he added.
He also pointed out that the law allows convicts to request for a pardon or parole once they’ve served half of their sentences.
“Hindi po ako abogado pero batid ko ang karapatan ng isang bilanggo na ibinigay ng batas,” he said.
Padilla, based on his 2014 Instagram upload, once supported the “Justice for Jennifer Laude” movement. The action star basically flip-flopped on the issue, and understandably so since he is a diehard Duterte supporter.
Much like Padilla, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also flip-flopped on the issue. Roque, who actually served as legal counsel for the murdered transgender, justified the pardon saying that the president doesn’t have to explain further his decision.
“Hindi na po kinakailangan bigyan ng dahilan ng Presidente ‘yan dahil ‘yung pag-grant ng pardon at parole at iyan naman po ang ating sinasabi na hindi po ‘yan katungkulan ng hudikatura kundi katungkulan ng ehekutibo,” Roque said.
“Puwede na po siyang umuwi dahil meron na po siyang pardon,” he added.
During another press briefing, Roque said that Duterte did it in order for the Philippines to benefit from a coronavirus vaccine from the US.
“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.
He then said that he has no problem with the decision if it indeed was a quid pro quo situation.
“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,” he added.
Before getting deported last Sunday, Pemberton, for the first time, apologized to the Laude family, but his apology was rejected.
Pemberton’s lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores said the marine gave “most sincere sympathy” to the family. “In the years he spent in confinement, he spent much time contemplating the many errors in his ways regarding the night of October 11, 2014. He wishes he had the words to express the depth of his sorrow and regret,” Flores said in a statement.
In a text message to the Laude family’s lawyer, Virgie Lacsa-Suarez, Laude’s mother, Julita Cabillan, saw the apology as “insincere” and “scripted” and “obviously dictated or made by Pemberton’s lawyer.”
“Can’t he write his own letter of apology? I can’t accept it. It seems insincere,” she said.