AFP to award Pemberton's Filipino guard
MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will recognize the Filipino Army officer detailed as a security personnel to an American soldier implicated in the killing of a transgender woman in Olongapo City.
In a statement on Saturday, October 25, the AFP said that Technical Sergeant Mariano Pamittan will be given a plaque of recognition for his "professionalism and restraint" in an incident following the transfer of Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton to Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, October 22.
Pemberton is the main suspect in the murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City on October 11. (READ: Family of Olongapo slay victim calls for justice)
Pamittan was guarding the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board facility, where Pemberton was detained in a military container van, when Laude's fiancé Marc Sueselbeck and her sister Marilou Laude climbed the perimeter fence. Both were protesting the "special treatment" given to Pemberton.
Sueselbeck then "assaulted and forcefully shoved" Pamittan. (WATCH: Jennifer Laude's fiance, sister climb military gate)
"Our camp commander, Brigadier General Arthur Ang, directed us to exercise maximum tolerance," Pamittan said.
He also said he tried to reason with Sueselbeck that he could be arrested for entering a restricted area. (READ: PH to initiate deportation of Laude's German fiancé)
With BGen. Ang's intercession, the military held a peaceful dialogue with the intruders and their supporters, said the AFP.
Sueselbeck later apologized for the incident, saying that he just "blanked out."
"He was overcome with anger when he saw US Marines posted there laughing at Ms. Laude's efforts to get inside the premises of the facility," the Laude's lawyer Harry Roque said in a statement.
Despite the incident, Pamittan sympathized with the Laude family. "I understand that they have valid concerns... I also want them to have justice and closure for their loss.
"However, I have a duty I must fulfil, which is to secure Pemberton who also has his own rights. That is why despite their misbehavior, I exerted tolerance," he added.
Pamittan will be awarded the plaque by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr at AFP's flag-raising ceremony on Monday, October 27.
Clan of soldiers
According to the AFP, the 44-year-old Pamittan belongs to a clan of soldiers, in which over 20 of his relatives have joined the military. He hails from Enrile town in Cagayan.
After studying automotive mechanic in college for two years, Pamittan entered military service in 1991. He joined the First Scout Ranger Regiment in 1992, and was assigned to the 5th and 9th Companies until 2006.
He was deployed to various conflict areas all over the country, fighting the New People's Army (NPA) in 1993 and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2000.
"I’m lucky because even after my years in the service and these encounters, I did not sustain even a minor injury," Pamittan said.
"I was also able to reflect that, as Filipinos, we shouldn't be fighting each other. We should just [discuss] our problems," he added. – Rappler.com