The Philippines on Sunday deported a United States Marine convicted of killing a transgender woman in the Southeast Asian country in 2014, after he was granted an absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton left Manila’s international airport at 9:14am local time (01:14 GMT) aboard an American military aircraft bound for the United States, according to Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokeswoman Dana Sandoval.
Pemberton was accompanied by representatives from the U.S. embassy on his way to the airport, she told state television PTV-4.
“As a consequence of the deportation order against him, Pemberton has been placed on the Bureau’s blacklist, perpetually banning him from coming back,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
Renato Reyes, leader of the activist group that opposed Pemberton’s release, condemned the government’s move to release Pemberton, saying the Philippines is “at the losing end again”.
LOOK: Photos of Pemberton in Camp Aguinaldo before he was taken to the airport pic.twitter.com/MDfeBLv4WK
— Mike Navallo (@mikenavallo) September 13, 2020
“We must ensure that there would be no more Pembertons in our land, no more crimes against Filipinos,” Reyes said on social media.
Details of Pemberton’s flight arrangements were not disclosed to the media until after he left amid tight security measures.
A court had found Pemberton guilty of killing Jennifer Laude in a hotel in Olongapo, outside a former US Navy base northwest of the capital Manila, six years ago, in a case that sparked debate over the US military presence in its former colony.
Duterte’s move to pardon Pemberton has sparked condemnation from activists who described the move as a “mockery of justice”.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who served as a lawyer in the prosecution of Pemberton, had said Duterte’s decision may have stemmed from his desire to get access to coronavirus vaccines being developed by US firms.
However, the Philippine health ministry quickly said that none of the US vaccine makers the government is in talks with had set any conditions.
Al Jazeera and news agencies