Case Timeline of the Murder of Jennifer Laude
May 27, 1999
- VFA becomes effective upon ratification by the Philippines Senate.
- Philippine congressional committee recommends President Arroyo abrogate VFA following US refusal to hand over to local authorities four US servicemen accused of raping a Filipino woman in Subic Bay in November 2005. Philstar 2006.
October 11, 2014
- Jennifer Laude, 26, meets Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Battalion-9th Marines of the West Pacific Express, at Ambyanz Disco bar on Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City. Laude is accompanied by her friend, Barbie Gelviro.
- Laude, Pemberton, and Gelviro leave Ambyanz for a motel across the street. The three enter the Celzone Lodge at approximately 11:05pm. Elias Gallamos, the cashier ,assigns them room number 1.
- Laude, Pemberton, and Gelviro enter room number 1, then after several minutes Gelviro leaves to another room, leaving Laude and Pemberton alone.
- Approximately 30 minutes later, Pemberton exits the motel room leaving the door slightly ajar.
- Fifteen minutes later, Elias enters room number 1 to discover Laude dead — naked, wrapped in a bedsheet with her head submerged in the motel room’s toilet bowl.
October 15, 2014
- Marilou Laude, Jennifer’s sister, files a murder complaint against Pemberton, who reportedly remains in Subic, Olongapo City.
October 17, 2014
- The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Regional Crime Laboratory Office officially releases a report confirming that Laude died due to asphyxia.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) delivers a subpoena for Pemberton to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Pemberton reportedly remains on board the USS Peleliu, the ship where his group was assigned to, which was docked at the Subic Bay Port.
December 15, 2014
- The Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office of the Philippine Department of Justice finds probable cause to charge Pemberton with murder.
- The prosecutor decides to pursue murder charges because of the “presence of treachery, cruelty, and abuse of superior strength.”
- Pemberton appeals the prosecutor’s decision to the Secretary of Justice, but that appeal is denied.
February 23, 2015
- Pemberton is brought to court in Olongapo and the court enters a not-guilty plea on his behalf.
March 16, 2015
- The murder trial begins. Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the local courts have one year to complete any legal proceedings.
June 30, 2015
- Pemberton admits in court to fighting with Laude, but not to killing her. He claims he acted in self-defense, after he discovered “it was a man” who was performing a sexual act on him.
December 1, 2015
- The Olongapo Regional Trial Court finds Pemberton guilty of homicide with two mitigating circumstances in the death of Laude and sentenced him to 6 to 12 years in jail. The court says, “The killing of Laude amounted only to homicide” and does not meet the standards for murder.
- Laude’s mother, Julita Laude, is not happy, saying she believes Pemberton is guilty of murder. Still, she added, “But the important thing is he will be jailed. My child’s life is not wasted.”
January 6, 2016
- Pemberton’s legal team files a motion for reconsideration before the same trial court- the RTC Olongapo, asking the court to reconsider the guilty verdict.
- A separate motion is also filed to reduce the penalty, should the guilty verdict be sustained.
April 3, 2016
- The appellate court’s Special Sixteenth Division denies Pemberton’s appeal for a reversal of his conviction by the Olongapo City RTC “for lack of merit.”
- The appellate court rules that “the conviction of Pemberton for homicide is undeniable.”
April 7, 2016
- Pemberton files an appeal to the Court of Appeals.
April 10, 2017
- Finding US Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton’s defense “more imaginary than real,” the Court of Appeals refuses to reverse his guilty verdict.
- According to the Court of Appeals, Pemberton “unabashedly plunged” Laude’s head in the toilet and “never thought of Laude as a human being, but as fecal matter due to her sexual orientation.”
April 26, 2017
- Pemberton files his motion for reconsideration 23 days after the appellate court upheld his conviction by the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 74.
- This is Pemberton’s last chance before he must take his case to the Supreme Court.
January 23, 2020
- President Duterte threatens to end VFA in response to US cancellation of Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa’s tourist visa. Dela Rosa is Duterte’s first Philippine National Police chief and top commander of his war on drugs. Duterte gives the US one month to reverse the visa cancellation. Rappler 2020.
February 11, 2020
- President Duterte formally announces a notice to the US Embassy to terminate the VFA, marking the start of a 180-day period of termination process. The VFA can be terminated via written notice from either of the countries. CNN Philippines 2020.“This agreement shall remain in force until the expiration of 180 days from the date on which either party gives the other party notice in writing that it desires to terminate the agreement.”
June 2, 2020
- The Philippines decides to withdraw the notice that it was terminating the VFA, owing to “political and other developments in the region,” including rising tensions in the South China Sea during the pandemic. Rappler 2020.
November 11, 2020
- President Duterte suspends decision to scrap VFA and orders extra 6 months “To enable us to find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial, mutually agreeable, and more effective and lasting arrangement on how to move forward in our mutual defense,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin says in statement. The termination, should it happen, will take effect on August 9, 2021. Reuters 2020.
December 26, 2020
- President Duterte says “No vaccine, no stay here,” threatening to end VFA if the US fails to deliver at least 20 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines. Rappler 2020.
February 24, 2021
- President Duterte seeks to consult the public before he makes a decision on VFA. Philippine News Agency 2021.