'BuCor participation, prison records': Criminal law expert raises more questions on Pemberton release order

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2020 11:42 AM

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MANILA - A criminal law expert on Friday said there is a need to further examine if the Bureau of Corrections participated in the process that led to the swift release order of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.

“At the moment, kung merong duda tayo mas maganda d'yan tingnan nating kung ano muna ang nangyari,” said former justice undersecretary Ramon Esguerra.

On Tuesday, the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 granted Pemberton's plea for release after finding he has served beyond his 10-year prison sentence under the good conduct time allowance rule (GCTA). 

The GCTA slashes jail time for convicts showing good behavior while in incarceration. 

“How do we determine that Mr. Pemberton behaved during the time that he was serving his sentence to entitle him to what we call a good conduct time allowance?” Esguerra asked during an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo.

Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison for homicide over the October 11, 2014 slay of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude at an Olongapo City motel.

Laude's body was discovered inside the bathroom of Celzone Hotel in Barangay West Tapinac, Olongapo City. Hotel staff found Laude's body wrapped in a bed sheet, with her head slumped in the toilet bowl.

The lawyer of the Laude family has filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that there was no proof of Pemberton’s behavior, conduct and participation in rehabilitation activities certified by the time allowance supervisor.

They also questioned the absence of proof of a recommendation from the BuCor’s Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee.

“Hindi natin matiyak kung meron o walang partisipasyon ang Bureau of Corrections dito. 'Yun ang dapat na mausisa, malinawan para sa gayun mawala ang kalituhan. Remember, ang service of sentence extinguishes criminal liability,” he said.

By the Olongapo court’s computation, 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.

“Tinitingnan ko ang computation, hindi ko alam kung ano ang pinagbasehan pero sa wari ko tama ang komputasyon pero ang pinagbasehan ang dapat natin sigurong malaman 'yan bang computation na 'yan galing sa BuCor,” he said.

Pemberton has been held at a facility at Camp Aguinaldo, instead of regular prison, per provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States. 

“Ang tanong diyan, sino ang may sakop doon sa detention facility na 'yun? Sino ngayon 'yung may hawak nung prison records? Kasi 'yun ang pagbabasehan ng komputasyon, yung tama nga yung komputasyon ng butihin huwes,” he pointed out.

He also questioned if a Filipino warden was assigned to the facility where Pemberton is detained.

“Then, was he the one who made the computation on the basis of which si Mr. Pemberton ginawa n'ya 'yung motion for reconsideration n'ya, at 'yung motion for reconsideration n'ya obviously pinagbigyan ng butihing Huwes at pinagbatayan ng butihing Huwes 'yung komputasyong iyon,” he said.