MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s grant of absolute pardon to US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton renders pending court proceedings against him as moot, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday.
Speaking to newsmen, Guevarra said “with the grant of pardon to Pemberton, the DOJ’s motion for reconsideration has become moot and academic.”
“I was consulted by the President before he made the decision. I just told him that pardon is an act of grace and that is his exclusive prerogative under the Constitution,” Guevarra said. “Nothing prevents the President from directly exercising his constitutional power to grant executive clemency at any time, because it is a personal act of grace.”
Guevarra also clarified that no request for pardon has been made by Pemberton.
The DOJ chief said he is not privy to Pemberton’s departure details but said “since he is a US military personnel, there may be a different mode of transporting him out of the country”.
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 good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits were not recorded by Philippine authorities.
Duterte said the government did not know what “factors” would contribute to deciding on whether or not Pemberton’s GCTA credits should be computed from the time he was detained facing trial, or if it should start after his sentencing for homicide.
He said there was no record of Pemberton’s detention when he was held at the Marines garrison, noting that it was not the job of Marines to watch over him at that time.
Duterte said there was no way to tell Pemberton’s behavior while detained on trial.
He said it was not Pemberton’s fault that his GCTA was not recorded, noting that the Marines could have reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ) if he was misbehaving, but they did not.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who was then a legal counsel of the family of victim Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, said granting absolute pardon cleared the issue on whether or not Pemberton was entitled to GCTA.
Pemberton was convicted of homicide on Dec. 1, 2015, for the killing of Laude at a motel in Olongapo City in October 2014. (PNA)