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Lagman opposes Pemberton’s release: Under VFA, he’s not covered by GCTA

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Monday joined the chorus of voices opposing the early release of former US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton after an Olongapo court granted his request to be freed ahead of his 10-year sentence for good behavior.

“After serving a portion of his sentence of six to 10 years imprisonment in comfortable solo confinement at a military facility in Camp Aguinaldo, US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton was unlawfully rewarded by the Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City with good conduct time allowance justifying his projected early release,” Lagman said.

“The improvident release order is bereft of legal basis because no court has jurisdiction to grant good conduct time allowance under Sec. 5 of R.A. No. 10592 or the GCTA Act which limits the authority to grant time allowances to ‘the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, the Chief of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and/or the Warden of a Provincial, District, Municipal or City Jail,’” he added.

Lagman said neither the Bureau of Corrections, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology nor local wardens have jurisdiction over American convicts like Pemberton who are detained in any Philippine military facility pursuant to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

“Pemberton was not imprisoned in any of the congested prisons under the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology or local jails for which his behavior under stringent conditions can be appreciated, and neither can his ‘good conduct’ be determined in an utter vacuum of single and privileged detention,” Lagman said.

“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,” he said.

Pemberton was sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment for killing transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.