Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said he believes President Rodrigo Duterte granted absolute pardon to homicide convict US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton to gain access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The US is one of the countries in the world that is currently developing a vaccine against the coronavirus, which infected over 28 million and killed nearly one million people.
Roque said at a televised briefing that he believed Duterte chose the interest of the country when he decided to let Pemberton walk away free from killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in October 2014.
“Alam ko po ang emphasis ng ating Presidente ay makakuha ng vaccine para sa mga Pilipino [I know the emphasis of our President is to get a vaccine for Filipinos],” he said, adding the President’s decision did not surprise him.
Roque is the former lawyer of the Laude family.
“Bagama’t tayo po ang tumayong abagado ng pamilya Laude eh kung ang ibig sabihin naman niyan eh lahat ng Pilipino ay magkakaroon ng vaccine, kung ang mga Amerikano ang maka-develop, wala po akong problema diyan,” he added.
(Although we are the lawyers for the Laude family, if that means that all Filipinos will have a vaccine if the Americans can develop it, I have no problem with that.)
Roque believes Duterte pardoned Pemberton to access COVID-19 vaccines
The Palace official said US Ambassador Sung Kim might have discussed Pemberton’s pardon with Duterte during his farewell call on Monday even if Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that the US did not ask for it.
Rowena Flores, the lawyer of Pemberton earlier admitted she had no clue as to how and why President Rodrigo Duterte granted the US Marine an absolute pardon.
According to her, she “didn’t really personally apply for any pardon from the President” for her client.
“I didn’t know that any was forthcoming or that anybody filed an application for pardon in his behalf,” she told ANC.
Flores added she only learned Duterte granted absolute pardon to Pemberton from media reporters.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Flores said when asked if this could have been an agreement between Manila and Washington.