By Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News
Oct. 21, 2014
OLONGAPO CITY, Philippines – Right from the start, Olongapo Chief Prosecutor Emilie delos Santos made clear the purpose of the preliminary investigation on the Jennifer Laude murder case involving U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.
“Let me make this clear – gender has nothing to do with this,” delos Santos said. “Somebody was murdered, and that should get sympathy. That’s where the focus should be. Let us learn our lessons from Nicole’s case.”
Delos Santos was also a member of the prosecution panel in the Subic rape case involving U.S. serviceman Daniel Smith.
To avoid any misunderstanding Delos Santos had a message to the private prosecutors handling Laude’s case:
“So there’s no misunderstandings, we are the prosecutors of this case. None of you can speak without our permission.”
The prosecution then started receiving the evidence. These include surveillance video from the motel where Laude was found dead the night of Oct. 11 and the affidavits of four other U.S. marines — identified as witnesses — who have already left the country.
But Pemberton did not show up. According to his lawyer, the subpoena did not require the American soldier’s appearance.
Like the prosecutor’s office the Foreign Affairs department also expressed disappointment over Pemberton’s decision to skip the preliminary investigation.
“By not appearing, he may be considered to have waived his right to be heard,” Assistant Foreign Affairs Secretary Charles Jose said. “The prosecutor should be able to determine the consequences of his non-appearance.”
The next steps now for the prosecution include asking for the results of the forensic investigation and an inspection of the crime scene.