From the Daily Tribune (Feb 28): Pemberton prosecutors in row among themselves
Private prosecutors are crying foul over moves of public prosecutors led by Olongapo City Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos to block efforts to present evidence against US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton during a pre-trial hearing.
Lawyer Harry Roque who represents the family of transgender Jennifer Laude, whose registered name is Jeffrey, wanted to include in the list of prosecution witnesses the commanding officer of the Pemberton’s unit as well as the American officers in possession of the accused’s service records and who facilitated the training at the Marine boot camp he attended.
Pemberton is facing criminal charges for the killing of Laude last October in Olongapo City.
Roque was not present during the hearing since he was at a conference on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) dispute at the Harvard Law School. The manifestation was submitted to the court by another member of the team, lawyer Romel Bagares.
De los Santos openly opposed the move.
In the arraignment hearing last Feb. 23, the fiscal also tried to prevent Bagares from adding additional names to the list of prosecution witnesses before the Olongapo regional trial court Branch 74.
“We cannot understand why she should do that. As the public prosecutor, she should cooperate with the private prosecutors in ensuring that justice is served in this case,” Bagares lamented.
Another private lawyer, Virgie Suarez also questioned such gesture by De los Santos.
“We wanted to have all corners covered. We did not expect that to come from her, since we are supposed to be on the same side,” she noted.
Roque said they have tried several times to reach an agreement with the fiscal on how they can work together on the case.
“But she has refused to talk to us in the most unprofessional way imaginable. She is making it easier for the defense by doing the latter’s work,” he stressed.
“We are constrained to bring this matter to the public’s attention because the public prosecutor herself is blocking cooperative efforts between us to obtain justice for the victim,” Roque added.
De los Santos has publicly declared that she will not allow private prosecutors any leeway in the presentation of the evidence for the criminal aspect of the case.