crimes in the Philippines

Jemboy mom: ‘Cop will only be jailed for years, but my son is gone forever’

Jairo Bolledo

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Jemboy mom: ‘Cop will only be jailed for years, but my son is gone forever’

GRIEVING. Rodaliza Baltazar leaves the Navotas Regional Trial Court after the promulgation of the case in the killing of her 17-year old son Jemboy, on February 27, 2024.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

The police suspects in the killing of Jemboy Baltazar all received lighter penalties. The sanctions range from acquittal to imprisonment of up to six years.

MANILA, Philippines – The months-long anticipation of Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar’s family for justice ended with a heartbreak as the court meted only lighter penalties against the accused police officers.

Before the clock struck eight, Rodaliza and Jessie, Baltazar’s parents arrived wearing full protective gear at Navotas City Regional Trial Court Branch 286 on Tuesday, February 27. Over 10 Department of Justice (DOJ) witness protection program personnel escorted the couple as they entered the court premises.

Adult, Male, Man
TENSION. Jessie Baltazar enters the court for the promulgation of the case against the six cops tagged in the killing of his son, Jemboy. Jire Carreon/ Rappler

It was the biggest day of their lives because the court would hand down its verdict against six cops tagged in the killing of their 17-year-old son. The teen was a victim of mistaken identity, the police said, and died in the hands of law enforcers in August 2 last year.

After almost three hours after the Baltazars’ arrival, the court released its decision. Only one in the six accused cops – Police Staff Sergeant Gerry Maliban – was found guilty of homicide. This was a lower offense compared to the murder charge originally lodged by the family and their counsels. Maliban was sentenced to four to six years of imprisonment.

Four others police officers – Staff Sergeant Niko Pines Esquilon, Executive Master Sergeant Roberto Balais Jr., Corporal Edmard Jake Blanco, Patrolman Benedict Mangada – were convicted of illegal discharge of firearm and sentenced to 4 months in prison. Police Staff Sergeant Antonio Bugayong Jr. was acquitted.

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Navotas cops get lighter penalties for ‘mistaken’ killing of Jemboy Baltazar

Navotas cops get lighter penalties for ‘mistaken’ killing of  Jemboy Baltazar

Visibly disappointed and emotional, Rodaliza immediately addressed the pool of reporters awaiting her reaction: “Sobrang sakit po ng nararamdaman ko ngayon, parang wala lang ‘yong nangyari sa anak ko. Parang hindi po siya napatay, parang wala lang kasi isa lang ‘yong na-convict (for homicide), si Maliban lang, pero apat na taon lang po.”

“‘Yong lima po makakalaya po, si Maliban lang po ‘yong makukulong, apat na taon lang po. Iyon lang po ba ‘yong buhay ng anak ko? Siya po apat na taon lang siyang makukulong, ‘yong anak ko habang buhay nang wala,” Baltazar’s mother added.

(I feel so much pain right now because it seemed what happened to my son seemed to be no big deal. It seemed he was not killed, I say that because only one was convicted for homicide, only Maliban, and he will be jailed for only four years. The other five will be freed, and only Maliban will be imprisoned for four years. Is that only the worth of my son’s life? Maliban will be jailed for only four years, while my son is gone forever.)

The trial for Baltazar’s case only took four months. This was faster than the case of fellow teenager Kian delos Santos, who, like Baltazar, died in the hands of the police. A glaring difference, however, was the cops in Delos Santos killing – Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda, and Jerwin Cruz – were convicted of murder and were sentenced to up to 40 years of imprisonment.

After the promulgation in Navotas City, the Baltazar couple rushed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Padre Faura in Manila. From Navotas to Manila, Fr. Flavie Villanueva accompanied the couple. The priest, known for helping drug war victims through his Kalinga Center, relentlessly guided Baltazar’s parent – from the moment the teen was killed, up to the present.

Adult, Male, Man
GUIDANCE. Fr. Flavie Villanueva escorts Rodaliza Baltazar as they both enter the court in Navotas City. Jire Carreon/ Rappler

Along with their legal counsels and DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano, the Baltazar couple once again faced the media. Like earlier in the court, the couple wore face masks and bulletproof vests.

In the presser, Jessie only gave a few words: “Hindi po sapat ‘yong hatol po sa kanila. Hindi po sapat para sa aming pamilya (The verdict against them was not enough. It was not enough for our family).”

Clavano, meanwhile, said they will appeal the court’s ruling to the Court of Appeals (CA), adding that they will tap the Office of the Solicitor General to represent the government in the appeal. The family and their counsel can file a petition for certiorari – a legal remedy used to review grave abuse of discretion – to ask the CA to review the lower court’s ruling.


Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, from the progressive Makabayan bloc, showed solidarity with the Baltazar family through a statement. Brosas said they were also disappointed with the light punishment, noting that what happened in the case proved injustice’s existence.

“Justice was brutally denied for Jemboy Baltazar. The alarming leniency towards the officers sends a chilling message that law enforcement can act with impunity, perpetuating a culture of fear in our communities,” Brosas said. “This failure to hold perpetrators accountable for the loss of innocent lives perpetuates a vicious cycle of violence and injustice.”

Human rights advocate and former senator Leila de Lima also aired dissatisfaction over the light penalties against the cops in Baltazar’s killing.

Jemboy mom: ‘Cop will only be jailed for years, but my son is gone forever’

“The crime was committed still within the context of Duterte’s drug war where police were given the license to shoot to kill mere suspects, and even killed innocent ones, like Jemboy. It does not bode well for how our courts render justice to drug war victims, even in the remote chance when charges are indeed filed in court,” De Lima said in a statement. “That is why we need the ICC to bring the perpetrators of the drug war killings to justice.”

It was not the first time cops tagged in killings received lighter penalties.

In the case of Edwin Arnigo, the cop, Christopher Salcedo, was only ordered imprisoned for a maximum two years and 10 months for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Arnigo was the teenager with special needs who was killed by Salcedo at the height of lockdown due to COVID-19 in 2021. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.