The Philippines deported on Sunday, September 13 Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton – a U.S. marine who was convicted for brutally killing a trans woman – after he was pardoned by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Pemberton left Manila aboard an American military plane bound for the U.S. at 9:14 am, Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said.
“He boarded a C130 plane which was arranged by the U.S. Embassy,” Sandoval told VICE News, adding that embassy representatives escorted Pemberton to the airport.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration said Pemberton was perpetually banned from the Southeast Asian country. The deportation order was first issued on September 15, 2015
“As a consequence of the deportation order against him, Pemberton has been placed in the Bureau’s blacklist, perpetually banning him from coming back,” Jaime Morente, immigration commissioner said in a statement.
After serving only six years of his already reduced 10-year sentence, Pemberton became a free man after Duterte granted him an absolute pardon, a presidential power under the constitution.
In 2015, a Philippine court found the American soldier guilty for the gruesome murder of 26-year-old transgender woman Jennifer Laude in a motel.
Pemberton met Laude at a bar in Olongapo, a city near Subic Bay port area, during a break from military duty. Nineteen years old at the time, he was a part of a contingent undergoing military exercises with Philippine counterparts.
Pemberton strangled Laude after discovering she was transgender. Laude was found dead, slumped in the toilet of the motel.
The American soldier refused to apologize for his crime even after Duterte set him free.
In a message to the Laude family, Pemberton said he “extends his most sincere sympathy for the pain he caused.”
“In the years he spent in confinement, he spent much time contemplating the many errors in his ways regarding the night of October 11, 2014. He wishes he had the words to express the depth of his sorrow and regret,” the message read.
He was “extremely grateful” for Duterte for his “act of compassion” in giving him an absolute pardon.
Reacting to Pemberton’s departure, Virginia Suarez, lawyer for the Laude family, said she hopes he would learn his lesson.
“May he [Pemberton] find peace of mind,” Suarez told VICE News in a text message. “Hoping he has learned from all these the value of life and dignity regardless of gender and nationality.”
Julita Laude, Jennifer’s mother, said she “can’t accept” Pemberton’s message.
“It’s not sincere… does he not know how to seek forgiveness himself?,” Laude said in a statement through their lawyer.
Earlier, Suarez told VICE News the Philippine government did not inform and consult the Laude family of Duterte’s decision to pardon Pemberton, which the lawyer said was part of the lengthy process.
Duterte’s shocking decision to pardon Pemberton angered human rights groups and LGBTQI rights groups, renewing calls to cancel all military pacts between the Philippines and the U.S.
A former American colony, the Philippines has several defense agreements with the U.S., which maintains a significant military presence there despite rising Chinese influence in the region.