Presidential spokesperson ought to cease commenting on Pemberton case, says lawyer

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque should stop making comments about the court order that granted early release from detention of convicted United States Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton as it may be construed as coming from the President, Pemberton’s lawyer said Friday.

“The spokesperson for the President should stop from further making statements in this case because he is a person of power now, and everything that he says may be construed rightly or wrongly as something that’s coming from the President,” lawyer Rowena Garcia-Flores told ABS-CBN News Channel.

“So by saying all these things he might be construed as trying to influence the outcome of the motion before the trial court,” she added, referring to the motion of reconsideration filed by the family of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude to stop the early release of Pemberton.

Roque is a former lawyer for Laude’s family.

Pemberton was convicted for homicide in 2015 for the killing of Laude in 2014 and was sentenced to imprisonment from six to 10 years.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 recently granted his early release through the Good Conduct Time Allowance law that allows decreased prison time based on good behavior while in detention.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Roque described the court order for Pemberton’s release as “judicial overreach.”

Garcia-Flores, however, dismissed this remark from the Palace official.

She said that the court order was in fact a “very judicious resolution.”

“She (judge) relied on law, applicable jurisprudence, the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), and the applicable rules of court. If you notice these people saying that there is judicial overreach, that the order is incorrect, they do not cite any law. They simply say this is a gruesome murder. They don’t even know that he was convicted of homicide and not murder,” she pointed out.

“The description of judicial overreach is really inappropriate and I am very confident that if the Supreme Court would have the opportunity to review the order of the judge, I am very sure that the Supreme Court will affirm it,” Garcia-Flores said.

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