The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) said the granting of absolute pardon to US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is an "injustice" not only to Jennifer Laude and her family but to all Filipinos.
Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza, General Secretary of the NCCP, said the absolute pardon also showed how little President Duterte values the life of a transgender and a Filipino.
"It is like they killed Jennifer again and deeply wounded her family and loved ones anew. It also belittles the rights and dignity of our LGBT community that are pushing for justice and equality and our sovereignty as a nation,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
On Monday, President Duterte granted an absolute pardon to Pemberton, who was found guilty of killing the transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude in 2014.
The NCCP leader condemned this untimely and unjust act.
Marigza pointed out that Pemberton was granted special treatment while serving his sentence, a treatment not accorded to ordinary Filipino convicts.
The Protestant Bishop said the decision is “an act of double-standard,” amid the calls of rights groups to release low-risk, sick, and elderly prisoners, including those who were wrongfully imprisoned because of their political beliefs, as a humanitarian act to the pandemic.
“If the president can grant absolute pardon to murderers like Pemberton who has not shown any remorse for his deed, then surely he can also free prisoners of conscience whose ‘crimes’, if they can be called that, are for defending the rights of the poor and marginalized," said Marigza.
The NCCP General Secretary also believes that Pemberton’s controversial pardon is an issue of sovereignty.
“It is saddening how truth and justice are sacrificed as the President submitted our national sovereignty to the US. Jennifer’s death is a glaring image of how the US military presence exacerbates the vulnerabilities of women, children, and LGBT in their own communities. As long as they are here, our country won’t be a safe space for the Filipinos,” said Marigza.
“Let us continue to mourn for the injustice to Jennifer but let us also work for justice, peace and the rule of law,” he added.