MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday criticized an Olongapo court for "swiftly" acting on the early release petition of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, saying such privilege is "never accorded to many Filipinos."
The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court ordered Pemberton's release earlier this week, citing good conduct. In 2015, he was sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison for the slay of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.
"The swiftness by which our institutions have acted on a white, male American's case is a privilege that is never accorded to many Filipinos," she said.
"What message does this send to our citizens who have routinely suffered from our own justice system?" she said.
During trial, Pemberton admitted to choking Laude in a motel room in Olongapo City in October 2014 after finding out she had male genitals right after they engaged in an intimate act. Pemberton's camp said it was "self defense."
While Pemberton has paid the Laude family some P4.6 million in civil damages as the court had ordered, "no amount can ever bring back the life and dignity of Jennifer," Hontiveros said.
Laude's camp has already filed a motion for reconsideration, saying they were not informed that the American soldier's camp filed a petition for early release.
Pemberton has been held at a facility at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, instead of regular prison, per provisions of the Philippine-US Visiting Forces Agreement.