MANILA — The Philippines' Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday it would block the court's order for the early release of US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, the soldier convicted for the 2014 slay of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude over "good conduct."
"The DOJ intends to file its own motion for reconsideration early next week," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, echoing Laude family's position.
The Laude family, through Jennifer’s sister Marilou Laude-Mahait and lawyer Virginia Suarez, had questioned the basis of the release order of an Olongapo City court which found that Pemberton has served beyond his 10-year prison sentence under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.
Another lawyer for the Laude family, Rommel Bagares, earlier said Pemberton should not benefit from the GCTA law until a treaty is entered into between the US and the Philippines specifically on the grant of GCTA credits as it is not covered by the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement.
Pemberton has been staying in a special facility in Camp Aguinaldo, which the BuCor describes as an extension facility. He has been held there instead of regular prison per provisions of the VFA.
Earlier Friday, defense counsel Rowena Garcia-Flores filed an opposition saying that the Laude family’s motion for reconsideration against Pemberton's release failed to explain why the court order should be set aside.
The hearing on the motion for reconsideration is set on Monday in Olongapo City.
Pemberton was sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison for homicide over Laude's killing at an Olongapo City motel on Oct. 11, 2014. Pemberton admitted to choking Laude after finding out the latter had male genitals following an intimate act between the two of them.
-- With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News