Pemberton faces deportation
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has ordered the deportation of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, the primary suspect in the murder of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude last October 2014.
But the order will only be implemented upon clearance from the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74, which is hearing the murder case against the US national.
"Physical deportation, however, shall only be implemented after the RTC’s decision becomes final, or when the said court issues a clearance to deport Pemberton. If he is convicted, we will have to wait until he has served sentence," BI spokesperson Elaine Tan said.
In its 5-page resolution, the bureau ordered Pemberton's deportation on grounds of undesirability based on the following evidence:
- The statement of witness Mark Clarence “Barbie” Gelviro before a Senate investigation
- The corroborating statement of Elias Galamos, cashier of Celzone Lodge where Laude was found dead
- The finding of probable cause and issuance of warrant of arrest for murder by the Olongapo RTC
Last October 2014, Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was found dead in the bathroom of Celzone Lodge with her neck covered in injuries and her head leaning against the toilet bowl.
An autopsy report later said that Laude died by asphyxiation due to drowning and strangulation.
According to witnesses, Laude was last seen checking in at the motel with Pemberton. The two had met at a nearby bar, where Pemberton was spending the night with fellow servicemen from the USS Peleliu, after participating in US-Philippines joint military exercises in Subic.
Pemberton is now facing a murder trial for Laude's death. In August 2015, he admitted strangling Laude but added that it was in "self defense."
He is currently being detained at a US facility inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
The deportation order stems from a complaint filed by the Laude family with the BI last October 29, 2014. The bureau earlier issued a charge sheet against the US marine for undesirability.
According to the bureau's guidelines, a foreign national will be deemed undesirable upon the commission of acts constituting criminal offenses punishable by imprisonment of one year or more.
In a statement, Harry Roque, counsel for the Laude family, hailed the BI order as a "welcome development."
"It proves that he is indeed an undesirable alien arising from the killing of Jennifer. This notwithstanding, his deportation should be after he serves his sentence, if found guilty. Any contrary ruling will accord him with impunity," Roque said. – Rappler.com