Pemberton: the Philippines stands for justice and calm; the Inquirer fails to
Here is a good review of the case by Interaksyon: “Pemberton meted 6 to 12 years for homicide in JenniferLaude case“
There remains disagreement about the judge’s interpretation of the evidence, and so appeal is forthcoming: “Pemberton to appeal Olongapo court’s verdict” [Inquirer]. I suppose with a jury trial, the conclusion might not be so vulnerable to disputes about interpretation of facts. But with one judge, it is easy to question whether the weighing was done properly.
The ruling on the case was made by Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde of RTC Branch 74 in Olongapo.
I am inclined to write:
“Your honor, thank you for representing your profession, and the Philippines, well.”
We won’t know how justice is recorded until the appeals are completed, for they are a part of a diligent process. But the initial trial, the place where the facts meet the judge, seems to have been handled forthrightly. However it works out in the end, I hope the young man Pemberton, who found that life sets traps for the temperamental, pays any obligations honorably, in time and money, and gets out of jail as a young adult ready to lead a wholesome and fulfilling life.
There are those who are still upset about the treatment that Pemberton is receiving, that he is not thrown into some local hoosegow with 30 drunks, thieves and murderers, to piss in a pot and eat stringy meat with his rice. That American soldiers are protecting the perimeters around the cell where his Filipino guards oversee his security.
Well, these people complaining are not the President, responsible for building respect and cooperation between two allies. They are the people who rioted over the Nicole case, forcing the US to house the accused soldier on the US Embassy to protect him from lynch mobs and guards whose allegiance was not known and a justice system that was not trusted at the time.
You’ve come a long way, Philippines.
The only wild-eyed protesters in the Pemberton case were: (1) the murdered victim’s family and boyfriend, preyed on by the irresponsible Atty Harry Roque who got a disbarment complaint for egging the victim’s German boyfriend over the jailhouse fence, (2) the usual band of leftists who tried to confuse a case of an individual losing his cool with a crucial international alliance, crassly stepping on the dead victim to support their political cause, and (3) the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which continued its regular pattern of making the news by stirring up trouble. In this case, the Inquirer cast Pemberton’s jailing arrangement as an international incident. We saw this story, run a few days after the ruling:
US defies court order to jail convicted Marine in Bilibid
The US did not defy anyone, but merely exercised her rights under the Visiting Forces Agreement. The problem is, there is no benefit to the Inquirer to run this headline:
US and Philippines work cooperatively to resolve Marine jailing
That, truthfully, is what has been going on this whole time. The US and Philippines started working in partnership as soon as charges were levied. The US even helped gather evidence. Pemberton was quickly turned over to Philippine authorities and he was kept on Philippine soil under Philippine guards from the getgo, with American guards present to fulfill the US obligation to care for her troops.
If that confuses you, it ought not. The US cannot abandon a soldier or sailor in distress (not yet found guilty ). You may wish to read this prior article on the subject if this point is not clear: “American military culture, or why Pemberton is in US custody”. I would hope that the Philippines would display a similar dedication to her troops in distress in a foreign land, before court judgment.
What is interesting to me is that the Inquirer has no problem advocating leftist interests, but a big problem advocating Philippine government interests. And make no mistake, showing mature justice is important to the National government in building a strong relationship with the US to defend against China. A relationship based on mutual trust. It did not need another emotional lynch mob like that which arose in the Nicole case.
The Inquirer went lynch mob
The Inquirer chose to publish a report that gave voice to the enemies of the state rather than report on Philippine initiatives to preserve good order in an important alliance. Well, perhaps you don’t see them as enemies of the state, but I have never seen a group so intent upon undermining the National government whilst proposing and doing nothing at all constructive to BUILD the nation.
Bayan slams US for ‘arrogance’ in defying court order on Pemberton
I wonder, when will the Inquirer ever grow up to match the maturity and professionalism of the judge in this case. Or the National government.
Why is the Inquirer always in Banana Republic mode, putting her circulation figures above the well-being of the nation, as if the well-being of the nation has nothing to do with that tabloid’s future?
Had the murdered victim not been a transgender, had he not deceived Pemberton all the way into the bed, I suspect the Inquirer would have had more success selling its papers. But the public agreed with the judge. There was a reason for Pemberton’s violent reaction, and the crime was not pre-meditated. It was homicide, not murder.
As it turned out, the Inquirer eventually got some information that showed how negligent its “US defies . . .” headline was, and reported it in a separate story six days later:
‘Pemberton cell agreed on months ago’
The Philippines and US officials, working together, had already figured out the jailing arrangements. They just could not give the judge that information because it might prejudice her ruling. When the judge was informed of the agreement, she changed her imprisonment guidance to fit the Philippine government’s arrangement.
It should not take the Inquirer six days to ferret out the truth in a case it chooses to headline.
One wonders why the rush to judgment by the Inquirer in the first place. Who did reporters talk to? The dismayed family attorney Harry Roque? The Bayan politicians? When there are many sides to a story, why go with only one?
So there are three takeaways from this episode. We had:
- A judge who relied on the laws and facts, and not publicity or politics, to define her judgment.
- Two allied nations working cooperatively in good faith to deal with a sensitive matter.
- A newspaper that continued its ethically challenged “making” of the news, rather than unbiased and thorough reporting of it.
There are other issues, of course:
- The degree to which the victim’s deceit of his killer tempered public rage.
- The unfortunate behavior of Atty. Harry Roque in using protests to incite public rage (including egging the German over the jailhouse fence) while using two cases (VFA and homicide), each to bias the other.
- How the case will influence debate on EDCA and the US alliance among legislators and other interested parties.
Personally, I chalk this case up as another reason to feel satisfaction with the state of things in the Philippines. Satisfaction for the forthright work done by Judge Ginez-Jabalde to weigh the evidence, and for the harmonious work done by Philippine and US officials to handle the matter together, and not to play to irresponsible public, attorney and media forces.
And I was pleased to read . . . after I had drafted this article . . . President Aquino’s take on the case: “PNoy: Court ruling on Pemberton case will strengthen US-PH relations “.
I would further argue, it strengthens the economy, too.
Reason counts. Calm maturity counts. Laws and agreements count. Justice counts.
I hope Philippine journalism soon catches up with the progress the rest of the nation is making. I hope media stop making the news in favor of reporting it. Stop doing one-sided stories and do balanced reports. Stop elevating enemies of the state to prominence while reducing National government’s role to bad guy. Stop jacking up emotions for circulation, at the expense of the nation.
After all, journalists take care of the arena in which we all live and thrive.
Or they fail to do that which keeps them . . . and us . . . free . . .