US wants improvements in Pemberton's prison cell

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2015 04:37 PM

MANILA - The Bureau of Corrections is making improvements in the soon-to-be prison cell of Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton upon the request of the United States government.

READ: New facility to be built in Camp Aguinaldo for Pemberton

BuCor director general Ricardo Rainier Cruz said the current state of the AFP Custodial Center did not suit the standards of the US. The structure itself was already in place, but among other improvements, it will have to be repainted, installed with CCTV cameras and barbed wire.

Once the renovation is done, Pemberton will be transferred from his air-conditioned container van at the Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board (MDT-SEB) facility to a cell that is good for 50 inmates. Cruz said the cell does not have an air-conditioning unit, but surmised that one would be installed.

Cruz also said the US was providing for Pemberton's meals thrice a day.

He said with a BuCor meal budget of 50 pesos per day, it was understandable that they would not avail of the meals the BuCor will provide. However, the BuCor will still give the accumulated meal allowance to the Pemberton camp on a monthly basis.

Cruz admitted that BuCor did not have a lot of funds to finance such improvements, but said the US volunteered to assist with the expenses. The spending will be shared, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines engineering units will be the ones to do the actual repairs.

Pemberton was found guilty of the crime of homicide and sentenced to up to 12 years in prison for killing Filipino transgender Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer.

Jennifer was found strangled last October in a hotel outside a former US Navy base near Manila.

Pemberton had earlier admitted in court to choking, but not killing Laude. He claimed he acted in self-defense after he discovered a man was giving him oral sex, not a woman.

READ: Pemberton found guilty of homicide

Pemberton has been booked and processed by the BuCor, a process that includes mugshots, fingerprinting, and the filling out of information sheets. The BuCor provides primary security while the US provides secondary security. Six BuCor personnel stand guard at any given time, rotating in three shifts.

When asked why the BuCor was obliged to comply with the demands of the US, Cruz said they are compelled to follow international standards for the proper detention of inmates.

Moreover, Cruz said they were duty-bound to do so under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

It is unclear until when the renovations will be made, or when Pemberton will be transferred from the MDT-SEB facility to the court-ordered place of detention.