Kin reject killer’s apology

In the headlines: Pemberton and Garcia-Flores holding up a newspaper report on his pardon in Quezon city. — AP

HOURS before he was deported on Sunday morning, convicted US Marine Lance Cpl Joseph Scott Pemberton apologised for the first time since he strangled to death transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

Pemberton’s lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores said the 25-year-old former Marine extended his “most sincere sympathy” to the Laude family.

“In the years he spent in confinement, he spent much time contemplating the many errors in his ways regarding the night of Oct 11,2014.

“He wishes he had the words to express the depth of his sorrow and regret, ” Flores said in a statement.

Pemberton also thanked Rodrigo Duterte for the controversial absolute pardon that the president granted days after an Olongapo City court issued an equally controversial decision to release Pemberton on good behaviour.

But Laude’s family rejected the apology as “insincere” and “scripted” and “obviously dictated or made by Pemberton’s lawyer”.

“I can’t accept it. It seems insincere, ” Laude’s mother, Julita Cabillan, said in a text message to their lawyer Virgie Lacsa-Suarez.

Laude’s sister, Marilou, also dismissed the apology and said it should have been attributed to Pemberton’s lawyer since it was obviously “scripted”.

Suarez hoped that Pemberton would “find peace of mind” and that “he has learned from all these the value of life and dignity regardless of gender and nationality”.

On the other hand, True Colors Coalition-Pilipinas, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group, wished that Pemberton’s crime “haunt him and that his conscience bother him every day”.

“May you not forget your sin and the image of Jennifer Laude with her head inside the toilet bowl, ” the group told Pemberton.

Bayan Muna Rep Ferdinand Gaite was equally angry: “Never forget Jennifer Laude. Never forget her murder. Never forget the name of her murderer. And most of all, never forget who freed her murderer.”“The people will hold President Duterte accountable and history will not be kind. President Duterte will be remembered as the American lackey who freed the murderer of his fellow Filipino. A traitor to his own people, ” the Makabayan lawmaker said.

He blamed Pemberton’s release on the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that allowed government-to-government arrangements that did not serve the ends of justice.“We reiterate our call for the immediate termination of the VFA and the complete pull out of US armed forces in the Philippines.

“Injustices such as this would continue to happen as long as we are tied to an agreement that values the interests of a foreign power above our own dignity and sovereignty as a nation, ” Gaite said.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes agreed with Gaite on the need to revisit the VFA and ensure that there would no longer be “crimes against Filipinos and no more affront to our sovereignty”. — The Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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