MANILA — Unlike some Filipinos outraged by President Rodrigo Duterte's "act of grace" that would allow an American soldier to walk free after conviction for a Filipino transgender woman's slay, alias "Inday" said she was ecstatic.
Inday's husband has been languishing inside the notoriously congested national penitentiary, the New Bilibid Prison, for almost 3 decades over robbery with homicide charges.
But Duterte's surprise decision to grant US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton of absolute pardon made Inday more hopeful than ever.
"Tuwang-tuwa kami na nabuksan ang kaso ng paglaya ni Pemberton. Sana ito ang way na makasama namin ang aming mga mahal sa buhay na napakatagal nang nawalay sa amin," Inday told ABS-CBN News.
(We are extremely happy because Pemberton's pardon has opened doors for us to be reunited with loved ones who are still in prison.)
Duterte on Monday gave absolute pardon to Pemberton—convicted in 2015 for killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude—just as the justice department planned to question the early release that a court granted to him due to good conduct credits.
By the Olongapo court’s computation, Pemberton has served 2,142 days in detention plus 1,548 days of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) grant or a total of 3,690 days, just a few days over 10 years, beyond the maximum penalty for homicide. He had been sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison.
Factoring in GCTA credits, Inday's husband would have already served more or less 40 years in prison, she said. For Inday, her husband is more deserving of the same benefit Duterte granted Pemberton.
"Si Pemberton 5 years lang, nakalaya [na]. How much more kami na umabot na ng 40 years with GCTA? Hindi lang sana sa mayayaman mangyari ito. Mas sana sa amin na mga mahihirap po."
(Pemberton will walk free after serving just half of his intended jail sentence. How much more my husband who has already served 40 years with GCTA? I hope this kind of grace is not only available for the privileged few.)
"Babes," wife of another Bilibid inmate, also saw Pemberton's pardon as a ray of hope.
"Nang mabalitaan ko sa TV ang nangyari kay Mr. Pemberton, nabuhayan ako ng loob dahil may pag-asa din kaming lumaya... Sana maibigay din sa amin," she said.
(When I saw on TV that Mr. Pemberton will be released, it gave me hope that my husband will also be given the same benefit.)
Duterte's pardon clears all legal obstacles to the soldier's release, despite him serving just over half his 10-year sentence.
Inday and Babes said the same "grace" from Duterte would be a nice "Christmas gift" for their families.