Justice Denied: Again and again and again

The US military occupies many countries; I mean, it has bases and installations in many countries around the world.  Any in many of those countries, the behaviour and actions of their members is ranges from appalling to criminal.  The incidents in Japan alone are shocking and repetitive with no end in sight except when bases are removed.

I lived in South Korea from 2001 until 2005, and was there in 2002 when the “Yangju highway incident” happened: two of the US military ran over and killed two 14 year old girls.  Some say intentionally.  Instead of being arrested and tried in a civilian court, the US whisked them out of the country, protecting them from prosecution.  At a farcicial court martial whitewash back home, they were deemed “not guilty” of manslaughter.  They were never returned to South Korea for trial, and the families never received justice, compensation or even the decency of an apology.

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There are a handful of US naval bases in the Philippines, one of them at Subic Bay, roughly 100km northwest of Manila.  In 2014, a marine named Joseph Scott Pemberton committed a gruesome murder of a Filipina named Jennifer Laude.  He met her for sex and went to a hotel in Olangapo City, outside Subic Bay.  After realizing she was Transgender, he strangled her along with brutalizing her in other ways.

Although Pemberton was arrested and tried for the crime, the US military pressured the Philippine government into undercharging him with manslaughter.  (Under Obama, rembember; Benigno Aquino III was Philippine president at the time.)  Pemberton was sentenced to only ten years.  Even more appalling, on September 1 2020 it was announced he is “released for good behaviour” after only five years and eight months.  He will be allowed to leave for the US instead of being transferred to a civilian prison as was planned.  And since he has no criminal record within the US, his conviction in the Philippines won’t follow him.  He got away with a hate crime.

Court orders Pemberton’s early release on ‘good conduct’

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 2) — A local court ordered the release of Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine Lance Corporal convicted of killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.

According to the September 1 decision of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 74, Pemberton should walk free for good behavior.

Pemberton has served a total of 2,142 days or over five years and eight months in prison, but the court credited to him a good conduct time allowance of 1,548 days or more than four years. This yields an accumulated jail time of 10 years, one month, and 10 days, the court said.

“Thus he is now entitled to be released for he had already served the ten (10) year maximum of his penalty,” the order, signed by Presiding Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde read. The Court of Appeals initially sentenced Pemberton up to 12 years of imprisonment, but this was later reduced to a maximum of ten years.

This is not justice.  This is one cowardly thug president kowtowing and capitulating to another.  The message is clear: US military members can continue to rape and murder with impunity, just like cops back home.  Small wonder US cops recruit from the military.

It also sends a clear message that Philippine courts can be bought, that they view Transgender people as being worth less than cisgender people.