US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton. (File photo)

MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Friday reiterated that no exchange deal happened between Manila and Washington over the absolute pardon granted by President Rodrigo Duterte to US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was convicted of killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

“I already said it was the President’s unilateral decision. What is it about ‘I already said’ that’s so hard to understand? I was with the President. Just me and Secretary (Menardo) Guevarra and ES (Salvador Medialdea) and Senator Bong Go,” he said in a Twitter post.

The statement came a day after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque surmised that Duterte’s decision to pardon Pemberton might be linked to the government’s bid to secure access to coronavirus vaccines the US is developing.

“There is no exchange. I clinched that purely on my charm with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I insisted that it (vaccine procurement) be a private sector venture,” Locsin wrote in a prior tweet. “It is what it was: the President’s sense of fairness in a particular case. And it’s impeccable law and morals.”

Duterte said he granted Pemberton absolute pardon as he believed the latter was not treated “fairly” while detained because his good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits were not recorded by Philippine authorities.

The granting of pardon to Pemberton extinguished the issue of whether or not he is entitled to GCTA.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide on Dec. 1, 2015, for killing Laude in October 2014. (PNA)