VIRGINIA Suarez, lawyer for the family of slain Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, on Sunday questioned the validity of a diplomatic note that the government will give to the Olongapo judge to justify the detention of convicted killer US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton in Camp Aguinaldo.
At the Balitaan sa Rembrandt, Suarez expressed her disappointment over the failure of the Olongapo City court to assert the imprisonment of Pemberton at the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City after his guilty conviction for homicide.
She said the supposed detention of Pemberton at the NBP was a sovereign issue.
In a television interview, Suarez said that while Pemberton never brought up Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines, Judge Roline Jabalede kept invoking the treaty.
“We find it ironic,” she said.
Suarez also asked why the court amended its commitment order to hold Pemberton at the NBP.
“The judge amended her order pending clarification on where to detain him under the VFA,” she said.
Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III assured the public that Pemberton would not be given any special treatment while in detention.
Speaking before the local media in Italy, Aquino also said Pemberton is already detained in a facility controlled by the Philippines, particularly at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“He is actually in a facility controlled by the Philippines already,” Aquino said. “The facility in the AFP is going to be manned by Bureau of Corrections personnel or is already being manned by Bureau of Corrections personnel. In effect, this is an extension of the Bilibid and consistent with the agreements under the VFA.”
Aquino said that detaining a convicted military personnel like Pemberton in a separate facility rather than the regular prison cell does not mean he is being given special treatment.
“The bottom line is, as a sovereign state, we have an agreement with another sovereign state,” he said of the VFA and its impact on the Pemberton case.
An Olongapo court last week ruled that Pemberton was guilty of homicide and not murder for the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.
Pemberton will face imprisonment from six to 12 years and was also ordered by the court to pay P50,000 as civil indemnity and P4.32 million to Laude’s family as damages for loss of earning capacity.
The accused was also ordered to pay P155,255 as reimbursement for the wake and burial of the victim, P50,000 for moral damages and P30,000 for exemplary damages.
Aquino said Pemberton can appeal the court’s verdict.