(KYMA, KECY)-Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday pardoned a U.S. Marine convicted of killing a transgender woman in 2015.
Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was jailed in 2015 for killing Jennifer Laude near a former U.S. navy base. A trial court signed off on his early release last week for good conduct, but was blocked by an appeal from Laude's lawyers.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte had "erased the punishment" but the conviction of Pemberton stands.
"He is still a killer," he said.
Duterte's tirades and threats against United States are frequent and famous, but he has yet to downgrade ties and in June decided against scrapping a bilateral troop deployment agreement central to the defense alliance.
Speaking on television, Duterte said Pemberton was treated unfairly.
"This is how I see it," he said. "So release him. Pardon."
He added: "There is a time you are called to be fair.