Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday denounced the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court’s order to release Joseph Pemberton, the US marine convicted of murdering Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

“Hindi naman pupuwede na trinato na parang hayop iyong kababayan natin, tapik lang sa kamay ang parusa…. Iyong ginawa po ni judge na siya na ang nagdesisyon kung paano siya bibigyan ng credit for good conduct is an instance of judicial overreach,” Roque, former lawyer of the Laude family, said in a Palace briefing.

In a post on his personal Facebook page, Roque expressed disappointment over Pemberton’s early release.

“I deplore the short period of imprisonment meted on Pemberton who killed a Filipino under the most gruesome manner. Laude’s death personifies the death of Philippine sovereignty and the light penalty imposed on Pemberton proves that despite the President’s independent foreign policy, that Americans continue to have the status of conquering colonials in our country,” he wrote.

Pemberton was meted six to 10 years of imprisonment. He served only five years when the Olongapo court issued the release order.

The court said that aside from Pemberton’s five years in prison, good conduct time allowances boosted his time served to 10 years, one month and 10 days.

Release put on hold

Reading a text message from Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag, Roque said Pemberton’s release was put on hold pending the court’s resolution of a motion for reconsideration (MR).

“By the way, sir, advice ng DOJ hindi ipo-process ang release – this is referring to Pemberton – since there was an MR filed and we’ll just wait for the resolution of the MR, sir,” Bantag’s message read.

Duterte has ‘no personal thoughts’ 

Asked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s thoughts on the court decision, Roque said the president had none.

But Roque cited Duterte’s order to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the US.

“Wala pa po siyang personal thoughts on this pero kung maaalala ninyo po, he has abrogated ‘no, ordered the abrogation of the VFA dahil ito nga po ay hindi pursuant to our national interest. So napagpaliban lang po ang termination ng VFA for 6 months,” Roque said.

“Sa tingin ko naman dahil ang desisyon ni Presidente ay tapusin na itong VFA na ito, e ito po ang tunay na pagbibigay ng katarungan kay Jennifer Laude. Dahil ang pagpatay naman kay Jennifer Laude ay symbolic sa pagpatay ng soberanya ng bansang Pilipinas,” he added.