Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, granted US Marine Joseph Pemberton an absolute pardon for the killing of a transwoman, Jennifer Laude, the President’s office announced on Monday. 

A few days ago, a local court ordered Pemberton’s early release due to “good behavior,” the Manila Bulletin, a local media reported. 

The President’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, told the press that Pemberton is now free to go home.

Roque further elaborated on Pemberton’s absolute pardon. 

It means a Good Conduct Time Allowance is not needed for his release, Roque said.

Also, there is “no more issue” on whether the law applies to him since Pemberton was not imprisoned in the “national penitentiary,” Roque said, as per Manila Bulletin.  

Roque was part of the legal counsel that defended Laude’s family.  

In 2014, Laude was found dead with her head submerged in the toilet of a motel bathroom in Olongapo City, as per CNN Philippines.

Pemberton confessed during the trial that he “choked” Laude after finding out that she was also a “man.”

Pemberton was convicted the same year he confessed to the crime.

The court sentenced Pemberton to twelve years in prison. 

Pemberton was locked up at a special facility inside the Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Manila Bulletin reported.

No Material Basis For Order Of Release

According to Attorney Virginia Suarez, a counsel to Laude’s family, Pemberton’s Order of Release “has no material basis.” 

One, Pemberton was already given the “privilege” of serving his sentence at a special facility guarded by other US soldiers, said Suarez. 

This means that his “conduct” was never put to the test, as there are no other convicts around him. 

However, President Duterte’s absolute pardon overrules any issue on Pemberton’s conduct. 

People Are Angry

The announcement angered people from the Philippines and the international community. 

“This is entirely heartbreaking,” Charlotte Clymer, an Army Veteran wrote in her Twitter post. 

“Jennifer Laude was brutally murdered and deserves justice,” she added. 

Some Filipino lawmakers condemned the action. 

Edsel Lagman, a representative, pointed out that granting Pemberton an “absolute pardon” appears to lack a “just” and “valid” reason, as per ABS-CBN News, a local media.

One famous Filipino actress, Liza Soberano, also condemned Pemberton’s release.

“Are we supposed to just forget” that Pemberton “killed Jennifer Laude because he’s done some good?” Soberano wrote in her Twitter post. 

Also, “was it fair” that Jennifer Laude was ”killed out of hate “because of her sexual orientation?” Soberano added. 

What do you think, should Pemberton be set free?

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