Independent Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said a court order granting US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton good conduct time allowance for his release from detention is bereft of legal basis.
Lagman said the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court had ”unlawfully rewarded” Pemberton an early release after serving a portion of his six to ten year prison sentence for killing a Filipino transgender in 2014.
However, recent reports have disclosed that the Olongapo City RTC judge has ordered the Bureau of Corrections to compute Pemberton’s good conduct time allowance under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 10592 or the GCTA Act.
Lagman said that under RA 10592, the judge has no jurisdiction to grant good conduct time allowance for Pemberton.
The law, he said, provides limits to the authority to grant the time allowances of the BuCor director and heads of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and wardens of provincial, district, city and municipal jails.
“Neither the Bureau of Corrections, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, nor local wardens have jurisdiction over American convicts detained in any Philippine military facility pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” said Lagman.
He pointed out that the American soldier “was not imprisoned in any of the congested prisons under” BuCor, BJMP, or local jails.
Lagman pointed out that heads and wardens of these jails cannot evaluate the behavior of Pemberton which should form as the basis for them to arrive at a decision on whether or not he can be credited with the GCTA.
Since Pemberton has been imprisoned in a special military jail in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, there is no way for the jail wardens and directors to determine his behavior while in prison.
“Pemberton has been convicted of sexual homicide for killing Filipino Jennifer Laude and he must serve the maximum of his sentence of 10 years without the benefit of good conduct time allowance because he is not a covered prisoner under the GCTA,” said Lagman.