MANILA – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday convicted a United States Marine of killing a transgender woman in the country who condemned activists nearly six years ago, calling the move a “pioneer of justice”.
Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was jailed in 2015 for killing Jennifer Loud near the former US Naval Base. A trial court signed its initial release for good conduct last week, but was blocked by an appeal by Laud’s lawyers.
Foreign Minister Teodoro Loxin announced on Twitter, “The lack of time leads to a shortage of time, and the detainee from where he was detained was not in control of the prisoner – and to do justice the president provided an absolute pardon is.”
One of Laud’s attorneys was pardoned and questioned Duterte’s commitment to a foreign policy insisting that he be independent and not determined by American interests.
“We see that the welfare of the people of our country is different,” lawyer Rommel Bagges told DZBB Radio.
Christina Palabe of human rights group Karapatan described Duterte’s independent foreign policy as “bankrupt”.
“We see this not only as a mockery of justice, but also a staunch display of service to America’s interest,” Palbe told Reuters.
Presidential spokesman Harry Rock said Duttarte “wiped out the sentence”, but Pemberton’s conviction.
“He’s still a killer,” he said.
Romke was a lawyer in Pemberton’s prosecution and criticized his early release last week, calling Loud’s killing “the death of Philippine sovereignty”.
Duterte’s lawsuits and threats against the United States are frequent and well-known, but he has so far soured relations and decided in June to cancel a bilateral military deployment agreement for defense alliances.
Speaking on television, Duterte said Pemberton had been treated unfairly.
“That’s how I see it,” he said. “Then leave him. Sorry.”
He said: “There is a time when you are called fair.”
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