After years of impunity under Duterte, senators seek probe into killings

Senators called for a probe into the recent "senseless killings" under the Duterte administration after the murder of a mother and son in Tarlac by a policeman.

Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca shot Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank on Sunday, December 20, for using an improvised holiday noisemaker called boga. The incident was caught on video.

On Monday, December 21, senators Joel Villanueva, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Resolution No. 600, seeking an inquiry into the killings of at least 15 lawyers, journalists, and other citizens in the last 6 months.

"[T]he series of killings in the past 6 months of at least 15 people from members of various professions…exacerbated by the fact that justice remains elusive for the victims and their families, highlight the need to launch an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to identify the gaps in law enforcement," the resolution read.

A similar measure, Senate Resolution No. 599, was filed by senators Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Richard Gordon, and Binay last December 17.

"I also challenge the PNP to clean up its ranks. Kung totoong mandato ninyo ang serve and protect, dapat malinis ang PNP at ipakulong ang pulis na dapat ipakulong (If the mandate of the police is truly to serve and protect, they have to clean up their ranks and jail the guilty)," Hontiveros tweeted on Monday.

"One spoiled apple ruins the bunch."

Senator Bong Go, President Rodrigo Duterte's closest associate, and Senator Ronald dela Rosa, former police chief and architect of the drug war, unsurprisingly did not sign any of the resolutions.

In the House of Representatives, the Makabayan bloc also filed a resolution on Monday, calling on the lower chamber to condemn the murder of the Gregorios and to investigate police brutality in the country.

The signatories of the resolution include Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat; ACT Teachers Representative France Castro; Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas; and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago.

"There is a need to put a stop to police brutality enabled by the culture of impunity plaguing our country," the progressive lawmakers wrote in the resolution.

"It is imperative for members of Congress, as representatives of our people, to defend the rights of our people and check on excesses and violations committed against them, especially in this time of crisis."

Watchdogs have repeatedly urged lawmakers – majority of whom have forged alliances with Duterte – to probe the systemic problems hounding the police.

Human rights groups estimated that around 27,000 people have been executed vigilante-style since Duterte assumed the presidency and launched his bloody anti-drug campaign.

The police have repeatedly been accused of underreporting the statistics in years of impunity.

Since July 2016, there have also been 54 lawyers killed, including 8 judges and 10 prosecutors. (READ: In alarming rise of PH lawyer killings, what is being done?)

As of December 2020, human rights group Karapatan has recorded at least 353 killings of peasants, trade union leaders, human rights workers, and indigenous peoples. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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