AMERICAN Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was granted absolute pardon by President Duterte on Monday, will be deported as soon as he is released from detention, according to the Bureau of Immigration.
“The BI is duty-bound and mandated to implement a summary deportation order that the Board of Commissioners issued against Mr. Pemberton on September 16, 2015 for being an undesirable alien,” Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said of Pemberton, who was convicted in the 2014 killing of transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City and sentenced to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Pemberton is still detained at the JUSMAG detention facility inside Camp Aguinaldo while his lawyer, Rowena Flores, processes the documents to pave the way for his release. He is expected to be released this week.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo defended Duterte against criticisms hurled at him by Vice President Leni Robredo and other critics, saying that Pemberton is just one of four foreigners who had been granted pardons since 2016.
Overall, they said 139 pardons had been granted by Duterte.
Robredo on Tuesday said the absolute pardon granted to Pemberton was another proof of the government’s bias to the wealthy and the influential, adding there are many Filipinos detained for lesser crimes who never received the same attention or were given a similar privilege.
“One hundred thirty-nine had been pardoned, four are foreigners. Second, many influential persons had already been jailed including the rich who were involved in illegal drugs, public officials who were removed by the President. The claim of VP Leni is not true,” Panelo said.
Panelo also denied rumors that the pardon given to Pemberton was a “going away present” for US Ambassador Sung Kim, who called on Duterte at Malacanang last Monday before he ends his tour of duty in the country.
The US Embassy in Manila has yet to issue a statement since Pemberton was granted pardon. Panelo said the farewell call was more of a “social” event than an official meeting.
“That’s the usual practice when leaving, paying a courtesy call, goodbye call. That is a social event. Official subject matters are not discussed there,” he said. Morente said he has asked Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerard Bantag to turn Pemberton over to the BI the moment he is released so his deportation can be implemented.
Morente said it has been a standard operating procedure for the BuCor to turn over to them foreigners who have completed serving their prison sentences in the country so they could be deported.
“At any rate, we are awaiting instructions from our Justice Secretary for guidance on how we will implement the deportation order in a manner that is within the prescribed laws of the country,” Morente said. BI Legal Division Chief Arvin Santos said foreigners who are up for deportation are required to submit clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation and regional trial court to prove they no longer have pending criminal or civil cases in the country.
Santos said once these requirements are submitted, the BI will arrange and schedule the deportee’s flight. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the DFA will take instructions from the Justice Department on the matter.
“All of this now is the exclusive remit of the Secretary of Justice. We will be taking instructions from him. I have ordered the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces under me that we follow the DOJ. Period,” Locsin said in a tweet.
Chaclag said they took the mugshot and fingerprint of Pemberton on Tuesday so their records could be updated. Pemberton will also be subjected to a COVID-19 swab test, according to his lawyer. Guevarra said what matter is that once the requirements are completed, Pemberton will be flown out of the country.
“If there was already a final deportation order against Pemberton and he is not contesting it, then so be it. Either way, he’s out,” Guevarra said. Guevarra had earlier said that there may be a different mode of transporting Pemberton out of the country other than a regular airline because he is a US military personnel. Panelo also said Duterte has the power to grant absolute pardon or extend mercy under the Constitution.
He denied the claim of lawyer Virgie Suarez, counsel of the Laude family, that the pardon was a travesty of the country’s sovereignity and democracy. An Olongapo court last week ordered the release of Pemberton under the good conduct time allowance. He had served close to six years and had reportedly paid P4 million in civil damages to the Laude family that the court imposed. – With Jocelyn Montemayor