On jurisdiction over the Pemberton case

The “refusal” of the US Government to turn over custody of Joseph Pemberton a US Marine who was accused and convicted by a Philippine local court for murdering Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude is a justified decision and has nothing to do with US imperialism or it being a test of US’ respect for Philippine laws.  How so?

Let me cite parallel examples to explain:  Philippine citizens – Overseas Foreign Workers – who were tried and convicted based on foreign laws which for many resulted to the penalty of death.  The Philippine Government had made appeals to these foreign governments to reduce the sentences but did not however contest jurisdiction and by this I mean the right of foreign governments to detain and convict citizens of a sovereign nation according to their laws particularly when these laws are contrary to universally-recognized principles to which the home government is a signatory (as for instance death by stoning or hanging which the Philippine Government condemns.  Neither does the Philippine Government has a law for death penalty.  But even if death penalty is allowed here there is far more dignity in being hanged at home than the same in foreign land.).  Tragic for the convicted citizens and their families. Traumatic for the rest of Filipinos at home.

The same logic and principle applies to the US Marine.  This in addition to the practical test of home government intervention especially for active soldiers abroad which is, would the Philippine Government look away when Filipino soldiers stationed abroad are to be tried and convicted by the foreign government?   I believe not.  Whether or not it’s a party to an agreement similar to the VFA, the Philippine Government will do everything in it’s power to negotiate for custody of the soldiers. Historically this has been the case for governments as abandoning soldiers on foreign soil is the ultimate act of betrayal that a government could commit on it’s citizens.

On home soil, meting out justice will depend on certain elements of ‘justice’ that are in place.  In other words, handing over jurisdiction also involves a certain level of trust between governments particularly in the other’s laws and justice systems.

These I believe are the deciding factors that are involved in the case of Pemberton.


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