PNoy: Court ruling on Pemberton case will strengthen US-PH relations

ROME, Italy, Dec. 6 -- President Aquino said he believes the court ruling on the case of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton will further strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and the US because the two countries both respect the rule of law.

In an interview with the Philippine media here on Friday, the President was asked about his thoughts on the Olongapo court ruling and how it will affect the defense ties between the US and the Philippines.

Pemberton has a right to appeal the court ruling, but his conviction also shows that the country's courts can issue fair judgment, the President said.

"The rule of law happens in our country. It is respected by the other state. Therefore, it redounds to both parties’ benefits na hindi unequal," the President said in the interview.

"Mayroon tayong equality among two equally sovereign states na ‘pag may ginawa kang kasalanan, mayroon kang pagagalitan na dapat niyang pagbayaran."

"Ang diretso ‘non, lalong na-enhance ‘yung ating relationship between us and America."

The President also allayed fears that Pemberton will be given special treatment while in detention especially because he is being held at a military camp and not in the national penitentiary.

Pemberton is actually in a facility controlled by the Philippines, inside the facility of the the AFP, which is already being manned by Bureau of Corrections personnel.

In effect, this is an extension of the Bilibid and consistent with the agreements under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), he explained.

Under the VFA there is an "agreed upon detention facility" by both sides for military personnel who will be accused or convicted of crimes.

But putting a convicted military personnel like Pemberton in separate facility rather the usual prison cell doesn't mean he is being given special treatment, he said.

"Yung mga ganoong klaseng tanong wala namang kasagutang maayos e. Bottom line, bilang sovereign state, may agreement tayo with another sovereign state," he said.
"Nandiyan na ‘yan, nag-rule ‘yung ating mga korte; una muna, iniharap si Pemberton sa korte, nasentensyahan ng ating korte at babantayan ng ating mga personnel para i-serve ‘yung kanyang sentence."

An Olongapo court on Tuesday ruled that Pemberton is guilty of homicide and not murder over the killing of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.

Pemberton will face imprisonment from six to 12 years and was also ordered by the court to pay P50,000 as civil indemnity and P4.32 million to Laude's family as damages for loss of earning capacity.

The accused was also ordered to pay P155,255 as reimbursement for the wake and burial of the victim, P50,000 for moral damages and P30,000 for exemplary damages.

Under the VFA, the confinement or detention of a US personnel shall be carried out in facilities agreed on by US and Filipino authorities, the court noted in its ruling. (PCOO/PND

 © 2015