Ping Lacson: Those who oppose Pemberton decision–anti-American. Really now.

The Senate Committee on Health conducts a public hearing on the Philippine government's preparedness on the outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease on February 4, 2020. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

SENATOR AND POSSIBLY 2022 PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT PANFILO “PING” LACSON accused those who commented negatively against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s decision to grant absolute pardon to American US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton as staunchly anti-American.

I hate to say this but– is it anti-American to call out Duterte for not treating this case fairly for the Filipino People? As accurately described by Vice President Leni Robredo, thousands of Filipino inmates languish in our country’s jails “for years”, some of them unfairly accused and treated by the system but lacking power and money, ill afford to get even a second’s notice by the President.

Initially, the public thought that Pemberton was released due to good conduct. Opinion changed when Malacanan spokesperson Harry Roque, who once counseled for the family of victim, Laude, admitted that Duterte himself gave an absolute pardon to Pemberton. This, after Duterte himself admitted in a public address that Pemberton “was not fairly treated” and he, by conscience, must release him thru a presidential pardon.

Pemberton has been sentenced by the courts to ten years imprisonment following his own admission of killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender who worked as a sex worker in Olongapo. During the trial, Pemberton admitted suffocating and eventually killing Laude after finding that she has male genitals inside the Olongapo City hotel.

Mr. Senator, is it anti-American to demand that Mr. Pemberton serve the entire length of his incarceration? Pemberton was adjudged by a court after his admission. In our laws, the penalty for murder is life imprisonment but since there was an admission, the judge correctly meted a penalty of 10-years imprisonment. America adheres to the principle of justice. Had this case been heard in America, there is simply no question at all to everyone that Pemberton should have stayed in jail for the rest of his sentence.

Worse, Pemberton’s case could have been properly seen as a hate crime, since the Marine private said that he killed Laude after discovering she was a transgender. A person in his right mind would not have killed such a person. For one to kill, the compunction must have been too strong and too emotional against the victim.

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