The Bureau of Immigration will deport US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte after serving only five years of his six- to 10-year sentence for killing a Filipino transgender woman in 2014.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said he already asked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gerald Bantag to turn Pemberton over to the BI the moment he is released from prison so that his deportation could be carried out and his immediate departure from the country could be arranged and facilitated.
Morente said the BI is duty bound and mandated to implement a summary deportation order that the bureau’s board of commissioners issued against Pemberton on Sept. 16, 2015 for being an undesirable alien.
The BI chief said that with the grant of executive clemency to Pemberton there is no more legal impediment to Pemberton’s departure from the Philippines.
Morente said it was standard operating procedure for BuCor to turn over to the BI alien convicts who have finished serving their prison sentences so they can be deported.
“At any rate, we are awaiting instructions from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for guidance on how we will implement the deportation order,” he added.
Lawyer Arvin Santos, BI Legal Division Chief, said aliens who are up for deportation are required to submit clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the regional trial court as proof that they have no more pending criminal or civil cases.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said the Department of Foreign Affairs will be taking instructions from the Department of Justice on all matters pertinent to the release of Pemberton.
“All of this now is the exclusive remit of the secretary of Justice. We will be taking instructions from him. I have ordered the Presidential Commission on Visiting Forces under me that we follow the DOJ. Period,” Locsin said in a tweet.
Locsin made the statement after the Bureau of Immigration said that it will deport Pemberton when he is released from detention after being granted absolute pardon by President Duterte last Monday after serving more than five years into his 6 to 10 years prison terms for killing transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.
Pemberton is still detained at d Camp Aguinaldo and his lawyer, Rowena Flores, said they are working to processing the documents to expedite his release after the pardon.
Flores said they expect Pemberton to be release within the week once the requirements are completed.
The US Embassy in Manila has yet to issue a statement since Pemberton was granted pardon by Duterte.
Guevarra on Wednesday said that of the 139 pardons granted by President Rodrigo Duterte since he assumed the office in 2016, only four of them were foreign nationals.
“So many of our fellow Filipinos received the benefits of the President’s executive clemencies in the form of commutation of sentences,” Guevarra said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
Guevarra made the statement after President Duterte’s decision to grant pardon to US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton drew heavy criticism from various sectors and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Pemberton was convicted in the 2014 killing of transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City.
However, Guevarra said there are many more Filipinos who were granted executive clemencies compared to foreigners.
“The total executive clemencies in the form of conditional and absolute pardon since he assumed the presidency in 2016 was something like 139, and of these 139 pardons granted by the President, 135 were given to Filipinos and only four were given to foreigners,” Guevarra said.
Two of those foreigners, he added, were covered by a prisoner exchange agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
Guevarra earlier said no one prodded or swayed the President in his decision to pardon Pemberton, adding that even outgoing US Ambassador Sung Kim was surprised by the development when he was told during his farewell call to Duterte in Malacanang last Monday.
Duterte’s decision came on the same day that the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court started hearing the motion for reconsideration filed by the Laude family on the release of Pemberton.
BuCor on Wednesday said it has yet to receive documents from the Palace that would allow it to process Pemberton’s release.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, said it is more than willing to provide any form of assistance to BuCor in facilitating Pemberton’s release.
In a public address on Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte said he granted Pemberton absolute pardon because he believed that he was not treated fairly while detained because his GCTA credits were not recorded by the Philippine authorities.
But criticism of his decision continued Wednesday.
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) condemned what it called a deplorable act, saying there was absolutely no justifiable reason to release Pemberton from detention.
“This once again proves that through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) American military personnel can commit heinous crimes in the Philippines and still get special treatment. Worse, they can be pardoned by no less than the President himself,” the group said. With PNA