Fiscal says US Marine has waived his right to file counter-affidavit
MANILA - As expected, Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton skipped the second day of the preliminary investigation into the death of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.
Pemberton was supposed to file his counter-affidavit on Monday, October 27, but his lawyer Rowena Garcia Flores instead filed a separate manifestation asking the fiscals to declare the absence of probable cause in the complaint for murder.
“In the event that it does declare probable cause, at the very least we ask that this be reduced to a charge of homicide considering the lack of circumstances qualifying the offense as murder,” she said.
Laude’s lawyer, Harry Roque, quickly retorted and said Pemberton has already waived his right to file his counter-affidavit.
Flores said the manifestation was not meant as a substitute for Pemberton’s counter-affidavit, but merely a clarification considering that he is already being asked for his counter-affidavit even if the fiscals have not received the complete details of the case.
“We were made to understand [last October 21] that the toxicological exam of Laude’s lung tissue is not yet completed and also there will be an ongoing ocular of the bar and lodge [where Laude was later found],” she said.
She said that if Pemberton had filed his counter-affidavit today, “he would do so without having the opportunity to examine the case.”
Olongapo City prosecutor Emilie Fe delos Santos twitted Flores, however, and told her to respect the preliminary investigation process.
“You know for a fact that this is a preliminary investigation. We passed the Bar the same year. We will not be guessing if this is murder or homicide. I’m saying there is a death or killing. It’s premature to determine that. Please respect the panel,” she said.
She said that since Pemberton has not filed his counter-affidavit, this means he has waived his right to file one.
“We will not rely on the non-submission of the counter-affidavit, but the evidence before us,” Delos Santos added.
During the probe, US officials also informed the parties that Pemberton remains at the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board facility.