Coons blasts report Philippines president pardoned U.S. Marine for coronavirus vaccines

Sen. Chris Coons, civil unions, Delware, gay news, gay politics DC
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
on Friday blasted a report that suggests the president of the Philippine pardoned
a U.S. Marine who was convicted of killing a transgender woman in exchange for
coronavirus vaccines from the U.S.

“That (Rodrigo) Duterte could pardon a murderer who killed someone who deserves to be alive today and that that could possibly be seen as a trade off for a vaccine to save lives from the latest pandemic strikes me as a new low, even for this administration,” said Coons, referring to President Trump.

Coons made the comment in response to a Washington Blade question during a fundraiser for the Blade Foundation that took place at the Blue Moon in Rehoboth Beach.

Philippine prosecutors contend Lance Cpl. Joseph Pemberton in October 2014 murdered Jennifer Laude in a motel in Olongapo City on the Philippines’ main island of Luzon after he discovered she was trans. The murder took place after Pemberton met Laude at a local nightclub while his ship was docked at the Subic Bay Freeport.

A court in 2015 sentenced Pemberton to 6-12 years in prison, but he received
credit for the time he spent in custody before his trial. A judge the following
year reduced Pemberton’s sentence.

Duterte’s surprise pardon of Pemberton on Sept. 7 sparked widespread outrage and condemnation among Philippine activists. Agence France-Presse on Thursday reported Duterte spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters during a virtual news conference the pardon should allow the Philippines to receive doses of coronavirus vaccines produced in the U.S.

“As we all know our president
has emphasized the need for a vaccine,” said Roque, according
to Agence France-Presse.

“The grant of a pardon to Pemberton is in
line with our president’s desire that the Philippines should also benefit when
Americans do develop a vaccine,” he added.

The State Department has yet
to publicly comment on the pardon.

Published at Sat, 12 Sep 2020 16:19:35 +0000