MANILA – Various groups and members of the LGBT community yesterday protested against the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) deportation order on US Marine First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton who allegedly killed Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude on October 2014.
The groups condemned the deportation order which came ahead of a verdict on Pemberton’s murder case. They also criticized that the issuance of the order was in connection with the anticipated visit of United States President Barack Obama to the Philippines next month.
The BI, for their part, insisted that the deportation order was not influenced by Obama’s impending visit for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting next month to be held in Manila.
“Absolutely no connection to APEC visit. No relation to APEC. It has nothing to do with the arrival of President Obama,” BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison said in a Philippine Star report.
Deportation tantamount to freedom
Anakbayan-Metro Manila chapter chairperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy asserted that Pemberton’s deportation order granted him freedom.
“His deportation will result in granting his freedom despite admitting that he choked our fellow Filipino Jennifer Laude who has fallen victim over the unilateral Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” Magsoy said in the same report.
Pemberton was on furlough when he met Laude at a bar in Olongapo City. The two later on checked in a hotel which resulted to the killing of Laude.
International complaint eyed
Should Pemberton be acquitted by the Philippine Courts, the legal counsel of the Laude family disclosed that they may consider filing an international criminal complaint against him then as they could no longer appeal to the local Court.
“Only a guilty verdict can be appealed. An acquittal is unappealable. If he is acquitted, the deportation proceedings can proceed,” Laude lawyer Virgie Suarez said in an ABS-CBN report.
“I cannot discuss it yet… But yes, there is still a way how to run after Pemberton. That would mean an international case, complaint,” she added.
The Olangapo Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch handling Laude’s murder case has only until this year to meet the prescriptive period under the VFA.
“We will be informed if the Court will be able to resolve it earlier than December 14… If he is considered not guilty, he can be immediately deported,” Suarez said.