MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ Department of Justice will join the opposition to the early release of US Marine L/Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton who was convicted on killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters Friday that state prosecutors are set to file their own motion for reconsideration on the Olongapo court’s release order for Pemberton next week.
Guevarra said that DOJ prosecutors in Olongapo City will file the appeal, but he hopes that the Office of the Solicitor General will join them in their motion.
While the OSG usually comes in to represent the People of the Philippines when proceedings reach the Court of Appeals, Guevarra explained that the office “OSG entered its appearance in the trial court upon its belief that the Supreme Court, where the OSG represented the people, still had jurisdiction over Pemberton’s Petition for Review.”
Pemberton had earlier elevated his appeal on the court’s conviction on homicide charge but later withdrew his Petition for Review saying he had already accepted the ruling as final and executory.
“Be that as it may, the DOJ prosecutors will now assert their authority to represent the people in the trial court proceedings,” Guevarra also said.
Laude’s family, through lawyer Virginia Suarez, filed a motion for reconsideration on Wednesday, but Pemberton’s lawyer, in their opposition, argued that they had already “lost the personality” to participate in the proceedings since private complainants are limited in pursuing civil liability only.
The Bureau of Corrections on Thursday said it put on hold the processing of Pemberton’s release, following DOJ’s advice, pending the court’s resolution of the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration.
Pemberton’s lawyer Rowena Flores, meanwhile, said while they “understand” that BuCor is being careful with its moves, she asserted that Pemberton should be released immediately.
In an interview with Dobol B sa News TV, Flores noted that the court held that Pemberton has been serving at least 40 days beyond his 10-year imprisonment. “Every day that he stays in prison has no basis and is a violation of his right to due process,” she added in Filipino.
But Guevarra pointed out that the People of the Philippines, as plaintiff, “is also entitled to due process, as much as accused Pemberton.”
“The DOJ is carefully studying its next move,” he also said.
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