President Rodrigo Duterte has granted “absolute pardon” to Joseph Pemberton, the US marine convicted of murdering Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin confirmed the news on Monday.

“Cutting matters short over what constitutes time served, and since where he was detained was not in the prisoner’s control—and to do justice—the President has granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton. Here at the Palace,” Locsin said in a tweet.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque, former lawyer of the Laude family, said Duterte’s decision didn’t need an explanation.

“Hindi na po kinakailangan bigyan ng dahilan ng president iyan, dahil ang pag-grant ng pardon at parole, hindi po iyan katungkulan ng hudikatura, kundi katungkulan ng ehekutibo. Iyan po ay one of the most presidential of all presidential powers,” he said.

Roque explained that the grant of “absolute pardon” absolved Pemberton from punishment.

“What do you mean by ‘absolute pardon?’ Ibig sabihin, makalalaya na si Pemberton. Wala na pong issue kung siya ba ay entitled sa GCTA (good conduct time allowance). Binura na po ng presidente ang kung ano pa ang parusa na dapat ipapataw kay Pemberton” he said.

“Ang ‘di nabura, ‘yung conviction. Mamamatay tao pa rin po siya, pero pwede na po siyang umuwi dahil mayroon na siyang pardon,” he added.

Pemberton was meted six to 10 years of imprisonment. He served only five years when the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court issued the release order on Sept. 1.

The court said that aside from the five years Pemberton spent in prison, his good conduct time allowances boosted his time served to a total of 2,142 days or 10 years, one month and 10 days. 

The Duterte spokesman earlier denounced the court order, saying it was an instance of “judicial overreach.” 

Laude’s dead body was discovered in an Olongapo City motel room with the head jammed in a toilet bowl on Oct. 12, 2014. Police identified Pemberton as the suspect two days after.

Pemberton is detained at the custodial center in Camp Aguinaldo. John Ezekiel J. Hirro