US marine who strangled the life out of a trans woman in the Philippines returns home after presidential pardon
Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US marine who strangled a transgender woman to death in the Philippines, has been deported from the country after a controversial pardon from its president last week.
On Sunday (September 13), it was confirmed that Pemberton had left the country onboard a US military aircraft bound for the states after the erratic, Trump-style Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte handed him a pardon.
He was part-way through a 10-year sentence for the 2014 killing of Filipina trans woman Jennifer Laude while stationed at a US military base in the country.
Due to the deportation, Pemberton is “perpetually banned” from returning to the Philippines, the country’s Bureau of Immigration said in a statement as he was returned to the US, less than six years after strangling Laude to death.
Duterte angered the LGBT+ community and nationalists by granting the get-out-of-jail-free card to Pemberton, who claimed he was acting in “self-defence” by strangling Laude to death after discovering she was transgender.
Pemberton, who has never apologised to Laude’s family, had been lobbying early release with apparent support from the US embassy.
Activists said his release makes a “mockery of justice” in the country, with Duterte accused of genuflecting to the US by freeing Pemberton, who still reportedly faces court martial proceedings in the US.
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Philippines president pardoned marine as a favour to the US, his own spokesperson suggests.
A spokesperson for Duterte bizarrely opted to fuel the flames by publicly speculating on whether the pardon was part of a deal to secure access to a future US-controlled COVID-19 vaccine.
The president’s spokesperson Harry Roque told a news briefing: “I think this pardon, although this is my personal opinion, was to ensure Filipinos would benefit from a vaccine against COVID-19 should the Americans develop one. I don’t see any problem with that.”
The country’s government has been in intensive talks with US-backed drugs manufacturers to secure access to a future vaccine – though the Philippines health ministry has insisted no preconditions were set for access.
Duterte is often likened to Trump for his often obscene outbursts, commonly targeting LGBT+ people.
In 2016, then-US president Barack Obama cancelled a meeting with Duterte after he made homophobic comments about then-US ambassador Philip Goldberg.