MANILA (UPDATE) - The chief of the Philippines' Bureau of Corrections approved Thursday the release order for convicted killer US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton following President Rodrigo Duterte's grant of absolute pardon.
Duterte on Monday pardoned the American soldier, convicted in 2015 for killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in October 2014. Days earlier, a local court ruled that Pemberton was eligible for early release under a law that shortens jail time due to good conduct.
The US Marine served just over half of his 10-year homicide sentence at the Philippine military headquarters in Quezon City. He was held there, instead of regular prison, per provisions of the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement.
Pemberton's release and deportation from the country "can be completed by the weekend," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
"The date of Pemberton's actual exit from the country depends on his flight arrangements, considering that he is a military personnel of the US," he said.
Pemberton's lawyer Rowena Flores earlier said she "didn’t really personally apply for any pardon from the President" for Pemberton.
In a letter dated Sept. 4, Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente asked the BuCor to turn Pemberton over to them the moment he would be released to implement the deportation order.
"In the event that he is ordered released, we will greatly appreciate receiving your immediate advice so that appropriate arrangements can be made regarding his turn over to this bureau for the completion of deportation proceedings," he said.
The agency is mandated to implement a summary deportation order against Pemberton on Sept. 16, 2015 for being an
Pemberton killed Laude after finding out the latter had male genitals after an intimate act in a motel in Olongapo City, north of the capital Manila. Laude's body was found wrapped in a bed sheet, with her head slumped in the toilet bowl. During trial, he admitted to choking the Filipino.
Pemberton was in the country at the time to participate in a Philippines-U.S. military exercise.
— Reports from Angel Movido and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News