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.
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.
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