Ex-Laude lawyer Roque respects Duterte pardon of US Marine he helped prosecute

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2020 11:19 AM

Ex-Laude lawyer Roque respects Duterte pardon of US Marine he helped prosecute 1
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he would "continuously and faithfully serve the Filipino people" in the last two years of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. File

Roque says to "faithfully" serve Filipinos under Duterte gov't

MANILA — He's not going anywhere.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he would "continuously and faithfully serve the Filipino people" in the last two years of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration despite perceived differences in their convictions on different issues.

"I, like the rest of the members of the Cabinet, serve at the pleasure of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," Roque said in a statement.

"Having said these, we as members of the President’s official family will be guided by PRRD’s policy pronouncements and will continuously and faithfully serve the Filipino people in its last two years to bring about the genuine change this nation truly deserves," he added.

A former human rights lawyer who represented the family of slain transgender Filipino woman Jennifer Laude, Roque said he respects the "wisdom" of the President when Duterte decided to grant absolute pardon to convicted killer US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton— who the now spokesperson prosecuted as private counsel.

"On the Pemberton issue, I respect the wisdom of the President, which is grounded on a broader national interest," Roque said.

"The President and I share the same deep conviction on major policy issues affecting the country, such as charting an independent foreign policy course and zero-tolerance against corruption," he added.

Duterte pardoned Pemberton, convicted in 2015 for killing Laude, just days after a local court ruled that the soldier is eligible for early release under a law that shortens jail time due to good conduct.

Roque had protested the court grant, saying allowing the early release of Pemberton sets a "very bad" precedent as it shows the disregard for Filipino life, noting that Laude's death is equivalent to the "symbolic death" of Philippine sovereignty.

Roque has branded as "fake news" rumors that he was leaving Malacañang following Pemberton's pardon.

It can be recalled that Roque left his post in 2018 to attempt to run for senator only to withdraw over health issues, but returned to Malacañang earlier this year as the Philippines battled the COVID-19 pandemic.

He replaced Salvador Panelo who assumed the role of presidential spokesperson on top of his duties as chief presidential legal counsel.