The Court’s verdict in the killing of Jeffrey ‘Jennifer’ Laude is less than salutary. While it rendered a guilty verdict on US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, it failed to appreciate evidence pointing to the crime of murder. The verdict of homicide guarantees that Pemberton could be freed in as little as six years on good behavior.
In the first place, it remains to be seen whether he will even get to serve his sentence on Philippine soil. The Philippine government, from all indications, is unwilling to assert full sovereignty over Pemberton on the question of where he will serve his sentence.
We fear a repeat of the Smith case, where an American serviceman convicted of rape by a Makati regional trial court was spirited away by US authorities with the assistance of Filipino officials from the Makati City Jail in the dead of the night before he could be transferred to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa. The subservience of Philippine authorities to US interests on our own territory must end.
We call on the Philippine government to take custody of Pemberton and forthwith commit him to prison to serve his sentence at the National Penitentiary.
Meanwhile we are studying all legal options, including the possibility of an appeal on the homicide verdict.
Atty. Harry L. Roque, Jr.
Atty. Joel R. Butuyan
Atty. Romel R. Bagares
Atty. Gilbert T. Andres
Atty. Zharmai C. Garcia
Atty. Charlaine E. Latorre
(Counsel for the Laude family)