Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, Jr put to rest issues surrounding the grant of absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to Joseph Scott Pemberton, saying that it is best to trust the President’s decision.
“Magtiwala po tayo sa wisdom ng ating Presidente sa kaniyang mga desisyon sa mga bagay-bagay na tanging Presidente lang ang pupwedeng mag-desisyon,” said Secretary Roque in his press briefing on September 10.
When asked for his personal opinion regarding the absolute pardon granted to Pemberton who was imprisoned for the killing of Jennifer Laude, Secretary Roque said that he believes that the President has the nation’s higher interest in mind when he made the decision.
“Higher interest is saving lives by having vaccine to fight this pandemic,” said Sec Roque, stressing that this is his personal opinion. Roque believes that the grant of absolute pardon to Pemberton could be part of the President’s desire to ensure that a vaccine for COVID-19 will be available to Filipinos.
The Presidential Spokesperson also underscored that despite some differences in their opinions on certain matters, he and the President have the same stand when it comes to having an independent foreign policy. He added that the President might be thinking of the country’s relationship with the United States, particularly at this time of pandemic, when he made the decision.
“Gaya ng aking sinabi, ang tingin ko po yung pardon bagamat ito’y personal na opinion ko, eh para po makinabang ang mga Pilipino sa vaccine laban sa COVID-19, kung mga Amerikano nga ang makadevelop niyan. So sa akin po, tinatanggap ko po yan bilang reyalidad na mayroong mga mas importanteng mga interest na tinataguyod ang ating Presidente,” said Roque.
Roque, who was also a former law professor at the University of the Philippines College of Law, pointed out that the granting of parole and pardon is the most Presidential of all Presidential functions.
“Wala pong kahit sinong pupwedeng magkwestyon diyan dahil nung tinalaga po natin at hinalal natin ang Pangulong Duterte bilang Presidente, binigyan po natin siya ng kapangyarihan na magpardon at parole. At yan po ay without subject to any reservations,” stressed Roque.
However, as the former lead counsel to the family of Laude, Roque said that Pemberton’s absolute pardon would not erase the crime itself.
“Ang pardon po, yung parusa lang ang binubura. Mamamatay tao pa rin po si Pemberton, sang-ayon po sa desisyon ng ating hukuman at hindi po iyan nagbago,” Roque exclaimed.
In the same briefing, Roque, who is concurrent spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force, announced the approval by the IATF of the requests of Region VI, Iligan, and Lanao del Sur to suspend the inbound travel of locally stranded individuals. The moratorium is effective only for 14 days, from September 7 to 21, 2020.
The President earlier approved placing Lanao del Sur and Bacolod City under modified enhanced community quarantine from September 8 to 30, 2020. ### OPS-PCOO