police brutality

Robredo hits ‘architecture of impunity’ behind Tarlac shooting

Jodesz Gavilan

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Robredo hits ‘architecture of impunity’ behind Tarlac shooting

CAUGHT ON VIDEO. Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca shoots dead Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank in Tarlac on December 20.

Screenshot from video posted by SCMP Cagayan Valley

Vice President Leni Robredo questions why Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca still remained in service even after facing cases in the past

Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday, December 21, hit the rampant culture of impunity in the Philippine National Police (PNP) after an off-duty cop killed an unarmed mother and her son in Tarlac.

The suspect, Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, shot dead Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her son Frank, 25, on Sunday, December 20. The incident was caught on video by relatives of the victims.

In a statement on Monday, Robredo reminded the public that the incident was part of a “larger architecture of impunity,” contrary to the statement of key government allies that it was an isolated case.

The Vice President also questioned why the suspect was still allowed to perform his duty despite numerous cases he faced in the past.

“Despite a clear pattern of brutality and a string of cases that made his propensity for violence apparent, the leadership allowed him to remain in service: May tsapa, may baril (He has a badge, a gun),” she said.

Prior to the December 20 incident, Nuezca already figured in several controversies. According to a list provided by Central Luzon Police Chief Brigadier General Valeriano de Leon, the suspect faced at least 6 administrative cases in the past.

Two of the cases against Nuezca were of grave misconduct involving homicide, both in 2019. Both were already “dismissed for lack of substantial evidence.”

Sunday’s killing is the latest incident of police brutality in the country. Thousands have been killed in anti-drug operations, while reports of police abuse were likewise recorded since 2016. (READ: PNP has a human rights office, but what has it done?)

In April, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, former soldier Winston Ragos was gunned down by Quezon City police for violating quarantine rules. The National Bureau of Investigation said that it was murder.

More recently, the PNP Cordillera regional police disbanded its Regional Drug Enforcement Unit after two members were implicated in the abduction and beheading of a Baguio City resident last November. 

Robredo called for justice for the Gregorios, and for reform among the ranks of the PNP.

“We are bound in horror, grief, and empathy for Sonya and Frank Gregorio, as we are bound in condemnation of their senseless murders and of the murders of so many innocents over the past years,” she said. – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.