Manila, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- A United States marine, who was serving a sentence in the Philippines for killing a transgender woman in 2014, was deported on Sunday after being pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Joseph Scott Pemberton left the Philippines on a US military plane at 9.14 am local time (1:14 GMT) bound for the US from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Bureau of Immigration confirmed.
In October 2014, the American soldier was on rest and recreation after participating in military exercises when he met 26-year-old Jennifer Laude in a bar in Olongapo, a city near the US’ Subic Bay naval base. He later killed her by drowning her in the toilet of a nearby motel room after discovering she was transgender.
Pemberton, who was 19 years old at the time, was sentenced in 2015 to 10 years in prison for homicide, but has only served five years and eight months in the prison of the military headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo in Manila.
“As a consequence of the deportation order against him, Pemberton has been placed on the Bureau’s blacklist, perpetually banning him from coming back,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
Morente said that Pemberton had been blacklisted since Sep. 16, 2015 as an undesirable foreigner as his presence in the Philippines was not conducive to “the safety, welfare, happiness, or good order of Philippine society.”
Pemberton was transferred to Immigration custody on Friday, after the Bureau of Corrections signed his release order as a result of the pardon granted by Duterte on Monday, a decision that caused great outrage among Filipinos, particularly in the LGBTQ community.
The decision was also condemned by human rights organizations, feminist groups and opposition parties.
Amid the controversy over the pardon, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who was once a lawyer for the Laude family, suggested that Duterte’s decision could be a gesture of goodwill to the US in exchange for facilitating access for the Philippines to a US-developed COVID-19 vaccine, after it was learned that neither the US authorities nor Pemberton’s defense had formally requested clemency.
A statement from the US embassy in Manila on Sunday simply said: “All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law. Lance Cpl. Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines on September 13.” EFE-EPA