Pemberton to remain in detention pending appeal resolution – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 3, 2020   •   219

MANILA, Philippines – US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, will not be released from detention yet pending a court’s resolution on the appeal filed by the victim’s family, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Thursday.

 The DOJ said it has directed the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to wait for the court’s decision on the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration.

“The MR would have to be resolved first. The BuCor cannot preempt court action on the MR by prematurely releasing Pemberton,” DOJ Spokesperson Markk Perete said in a message.

The BuCor, for its part, said it will heed the DOJ’s directive and respect the court process. It also assured that Pemberton will remain detained at a facility in Camp Aguinaldo.

The Laude family, through their counsel Virgie Suarez filed a motion for reconsideration on Wednesday, arguing that Pemberton should not be granted an early release sans proof of his good behavior or participation in rehabilitation programs in jail.

“Simple ang mga ibigay lang nila sa korte ay mga computation I mean what can you see from the computation? Computation is just a computation it should not be taken ay yun na yun that computation is equated with the good conducts dapat may mga records,” she said.

Suarez also stressed in her appeal that Pemberton has been serving sentence “solo” in Camp Aguinaldo and no one can attest about his alleged good conduct.

  “What constitutes good conduct? Ano ba ang mga ginawa nito para sabihin mo mayroong good conduct? The court could easily scrutinize that but the court did not,” she said.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 in an order dated September 1 said Pemberton should be released over good behavior.

In 2014, Pemberton was sentenced six to 10 years in prison for homicide over the slay of Laude at a motel in Olongapo City. He has been held at a facility in Camp Aguinaldo under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines.

The court credited to him a good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of 1,548 days or more than 4 years plus a total of 2,142 days in detention which amounts to more than 10 years of the maximum penalty imposed on him.

The court is set to hear the Laude family’s appeal on Monday, Sept. 7. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Composite teams given 30 days to further probe PhilHealth mess – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The composite teams conducting investigation into the allegations of corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) have been given 30 days to further probe the issue, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will ask the teams to finish their investigations into PhilHealth’s IT and legal sectors in a month.

“Then we’ll prepare the complaints if there’s enough evidentiary basis,” he added.

The composite teams consist of members from the DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation, Anti-Corruption Commission, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and Office of the Special Assistant to the President, with the help of the Commission on Audit.

Guevarra said the timeline will begin when recently-installed PhilHealth president and CEO Atty. Dante Gierran formally assumes his post after he takes his oath on Wednesday.

The Task Force PhilHealth led by Guevarra already handed its probe results to President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday.

The report contained findings into the thousands of unfiled cases against erring PhilHealth employees and health care institutions, as well as recommendations on the filing of complaints against several officials of the agency, including its former chief Ricardo Morales.

Some lawmakers have expressed dismay over the exclusion of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who sits as PhilHealth chairman by virtue of his position, from the list of officials liable for the PhilHealth mess.

But Guevarra earlier stressed that other officials were spared from the list because the investigation is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the camp of Morales assured that the former PhilHealth chief is ready to face the complaints relating to issues hounding the state insurer.

They also maintained that Morales had no hand in the alleged corruption within the agency.

“Our client is a man of integrity and completely denies any wrongdoings and the criminal charges against him,” Atty. Arnedo Valera, Morales’ legal spokesperson, said.

“His attorneys… will vigorously defend Gen. Morales and will appropriately respond to the criminal complaints either before the Department of Justice and or before the Ombudsman,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Pemberton case leaves lessons to ponder on for future of VFA – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2020

US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines – The case of convicted killer US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton should be taken into account in reviewing the future of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Guevarra made the remark following the deportation of Pemberton on Sunday morning, a few days after he was granted absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Justice chief believes that the issue also left lessons to ponder on regarding the administration of criminal justice in the country, as well as the presidential constitutional powers.

“I am relieved to see the end of Pemberton episode. Though attended with intense conflict, it has provided valuable insights and lessons to ponder on regarding the future of the visiting forces agreement, the administration of criminal justice, and the exercise of the president’s constitutional powers,” he said in a statement.

Pemberton departed from the country aboard a military aircraft bound for the United States at 9:14 a.m. on Sunday.

The Bureau of Immigration said that as a consequence of his deportation, Pemberton has been placed on the agency’s blacklist and can no longer return to the country.

“Perpetually banned na siya from entering the country and any attempt in the future to enter the Philippines hindi po siya papayagang pumasok. He will be excluded at pababalikin kung saan siya nanggaling,” said BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval.

The US serviceman was convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude inside a motel in Olongapo City in 2014.

Duterte granted him absolute pardon after an Olongapo court ordered the Bureau of Corrections to recompute the time that Pemberton served and to determine if he is eligible to avail the good conduct time allowance rule. – RRD (with details from Correspendent Dante Amento)

Pemberton flies back to US following BI deportation order

Maris Federez   •   September 13, 2020

US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has announced that US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was successfully deported from the Philippines on Sunday morning, September 13.

Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in an interview that the military plane that carried Pemberton took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at exactly 9:14 a.m. He was accompanied by members of the US military and representatives of the US embassy.

The BI official, however, stressed authorities cannot disclose the specific state of Pemberton’s destination for security reasons.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

He was released by virtue of the absolute pardon granted to him by President Rodrigo Duterte after five years into his service of a six-to-10-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in the Philippines on Sunday also released an official statement on Pemberton’s release.

“All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law,” it read.

“Lance Cpl. Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines on September 13,” it added. — /mbmf

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