MANILA – Convicted US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton cannot avail of a law allowing prisoners to be released early due to good conduct as his case needs a separate treaty, a lawyer of Jennifer Laude’s family said Thursday.
An Olongapo City court, in a decision Tuesday, ordered the release of Pemberton after finding he has served beyond his 10-year prison sentence under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) rule.
Pemberton was convicted for homicide under the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement with the US which does not cover the GCTA, lawyer Rommel Bagares said.
“The agreement here only was signed with respect to where he will be detained, where he will be serving his sentence,” he told ANC. “The court said there has to be a specific agreement.”
Pemberton also cannot avail of the GCTA law’s benefits because of the nature of the crime, Bagares added.
“This was a hate crime without any question. He should not qualify under the GCTA rules because heinous crimes are not covered by the rules,” he said.
Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison for homicide over the Oct. 11, 2014 slay of Jennifer Laude at an Olongapo City motel.
The US Marine, who is detained at Camp Aguinaldo, received “nearly perfect” scores for his supposed good conduct while “enjoying” an “air-conditioned room…all by himself,” according to Bagares.
The Olongapo court’s computation showed Pemberton has served 2,142 days in detention plus 1,548 days of GCTA grant or a total of 3,690 days or just a few days over 10 years, beyond the maximum penalty for homicide.
“He has a very comfortable berth at the AFP facilities provided for him so there’s no basis for the ratings given to him,” he said.
“We have rulings in the Supreme Court recognizing that situations in Philippine jails are torturous and he does not get to suffer that and therefore the circumstances contemplated by the GCTA whereby good conduct may be appreciated do not exist in this case.”
Bagares also raised “controversy” surrounding the GCTA law implementation, which prompted several Senate inquiries last year.
“There have been plenty of applications by Filipinos to be covered with that rule and until now very few have been granted for this privilege. A special lane has been created for this guy. He does not deserve that,” he said.
The Laude family’s counsel was not given documents for Pemberton’s GCTA case, Bagares added.
“The Laude family had been communicating with us and telling us this is what the lawyer for Pemberton is doing and it’s only through them we were able to look at the documents and belatedly at that,” he said.
Bagares said he last saw Pemberton during his trial and “never saw him in person anymore” following his detention.
“We are demanding access and we were never given access. We don’t even know if he’s still in the Philippines,” he said.
Pemberton remains detained at Camp Aguinaldo as of Wednesday night, his lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
--With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News