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Only ‘rabid anti-Americans‘ see something wrong in pardoning Pemberton, says Philippine official

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — Only hardline critics of the United States see something wrong in the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to grant absolute pardon to U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Tuesday.

In a tweet, the Department of Foreign Affairs chief said that pardoning Pemberton — who was serving prison time for the killing transgender Jennifer Laude — was a mere “act of right and fairness.”

“There you go. Only rabid anti-Americans see wrong in an act of right and fairness. Now America knows who are its friends and who are its implacable enemies in the Philippines,” Locsin tweeted.

He was reacting to a statement made by Sen. Christopher Bong Go, Duterte’s former aide, about the absolute pardon given to Pemberton.  According to Go, it is an absolute power that is the prerogative and judgment of the President “that nobody can really question.”

However, not all of Go’s colleagues in the Senate approved of the pardon, which came days after the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court ordered the release of Pemberton for having completed six years of his 10-year sentence — with four years being taken off for under the good conduct time allowance or GCTA credits.

Locsin and Go made their statements as the administration drew backlash for allegedly disregarding the 2014 killing, which many described as a hate crime, as Pemberton was supposedly infuriated on finding out that Laude was a transgender.

Duterte maintained that his granting pardon was merely to give fair treatment to Pemberton, as no one had taken note of his GCTA credits while imprisoned at Camp Aguinaldo.

The issue prompted expressions of anti-U.S. sentiments, with various leftist groups, like Bayan or Nation — generally critical of U.S. involvement in the Philippines — saying that Duterte’s move was meant to appease the global superpower.

Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes said on Monday, after news of the pardon broke, that this decision belied Duterte’s insistence on an independent foreign policy.

“The absolute pardon comes months after Duterte reversed his early pronouncement of terminating the VFA [Visiting Forces Agreement]. The Philippine president has restored the VFA to please the Americans. He has gone even further by pardoning Pemberton who was the subject of special treatment under the VFA,” Reyes said,

Meanwhile, the Center for International Law or Centerlaw, some of whose members acted as counsel for the Laude family, said that it had several premonitions that Pemberton would be freed — either through the GCTA or other means, like a pardon.

Centerlaw said that several actions of the Duterte administration — like turning back on the scrapping of the VFA and the purchase of the military equipment from the U.S. — indicated a leaning toward the U.S.

 

 

 

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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