Lawmakers, groups slam Duterte's 'absolute pardon' for Pemberton

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to grant absolute pardon to a US marine found guilty of killing a Filipino transgender woman did not sit well with some, calling it "shameless" and a betrayal of public trust."

Duterte made the decision on Monday, as first confirmed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr.

In separate statements on Monday, members of Congress and other groups expressed their disapproval at how Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton's case played out.

"There is a pending appeal in the court from the family of Jennifer Laude, but this connivance between Malacañang and the United States government ensured that this appeal would not prosper. Inunahan ng kanilang sabwatan ang desisyon ng korte, at tuluyan nilang ibinasura ang sigaw ng mga kaanak, kaibigan at taga-suporta ni Jennifer para sa katarungan," said Bayan Muna Representative Ferdinand Gaite of the decision.

[Translation: There is a pending appeal in the court from the family of Jennifer Laude, but this connivance between Malacañang and the United States government ensured that this appeal would not prosper. Their connivance preceded the court's decision, and completely disregarded the cry for justice of Jennifer's family, friends, and supporters.

Gaite said the decision was an "injustice" to the family of Jennifer Laude and to the Filipino people, as well as "a mockery of our national dignity and sovereignty."

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the decision was "unbelievable" as Filipinos who have been convicted of lesser crimes have never been given the privilege of pardon.

"This current move also gives the lie to the so-called support of the president for the trans and LGBTQI community," she said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas said Duterte committed treason by granting Pemberton absolute pardon.

"Pemberton's guilt in the death of Jennifer Laude is loud and clear. This move by President Duterte is an outright disregard for the respect of the Philippine justice system and an affront to our sovereignty. Pardoning such heinous crime is clearly an evidence of betrayal of public trust," she said.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said the power given to the President in granting pardons must be exercised with caution, which is why there was a Board of Pardons and Parole and that the board has not recommended the pardon for Pemberton.

"Moreover, there appears to be no just and valid reason for granting Pemberton an absolute pardon," he said.

Meanwhile, the legal representatives of the Laude family say signs indicating Pemberton would be let off easy "had been there all along.

The Center for International Law said it would confer with the Laude family to discuss the matter.

Atty. Virginia Lacsa-Suarez, the legal counsel of the family of Jennifer Lausede said the decision was "revolting."

"This is another injustice not only to Jennifer Laude and family but a grave injustice to the Filipino people. This is a travesty of Phil Sovereignty and democracy. This is another hallmark of Philippines' subservience to the US," she said.