An off-duty police officer’s brutal killing of a mother and son in broad daylight has sparked massive outrage in the Philippines.
Caught on video: At the beginning of a clip that went viral on social media, 52-year-old Sonya Gregorio is seen with her arms tightly wrapped around her 25-year-old son Frank Anthony Gregorio, as they were being confronted by Sergeant Jonel Nuezca in their own home at Barangay Cabayaoasan, Paniqui, Tarlac.
- Nuezca reportedly went to Gregorio’s house at around 5 p.m. on Sunday to confront him over the noise he made from a home-made air cannon, reports Rappler.
- Carrying a gun and wearing civilian clothes, Nuezca tried to arrest Gregorio who was intoxicated at the time.
- Alyssa Calosing, the witness who captured the footage, told local media that she started recording after seeing Nuezca give Gregorio a punch.
- As the victim’s mother tried hard to hold her son back, other witnesses tried to intervene and pleaded with the cop.
- Nuezca’s daughter can later be seen in the video shouting at the elderly woman, telling her to “just let go” of her son.
- Shortly after, Nuezca cursed the mother and shot her point black on the head, saying just before, “Putang ina mo gusto mo tapusin kita ngayon ah?” (Son of a bitch, you want me to finish you off now?) Nuezca then turned to Gregorio and also shot him twice in the head, before firing another shot at the fallen mother.
- After the brutal murder, Nuezca and his daughter casually walked away.
- Nuezca, who is stationed in Metro Manila and was just visiting his family in Tarlac, surrendered to the police station in Rosales, Pangasinan later in the day and is now facing murder charges.
- Based on the initial investigation, the two parties were already involved in a property-related dispute before the incident.
- It was later revealed that Nuezca had been previously charged with two homicide cases which were “dismissed for lack of substantial evidence.”
Widespread outrage: Several hashtags calling for the end of police brutality and killings emerged as trending topics on Twitter Philippines, while calls for justice for Sonya and Frank Gregorio dominated local discussions on Facebook.
- In a statement, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemned the incident, saying: “Each and every police is expected to protect our rights. As such, it is unacceptable when they are the ones being at the forefront of perpetuating such human rights violations.”
- The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines called the heinous murder a “brutal abuse” of power which adds to the “bloody list of crimes” committed by state forces against the Filipino people.
- In addition to denouncing Nuezca’s crime, progressive groups League of Filipino Students and Gabriela Youth issued statements highlighting previous cases of killings in the country, reports PhilStar.
- Critics point out that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte himself has repeatedly encouraged police officers to kill suspects, and even promised to protect them from prosecution.
- According to the World Population Review, the Philippines ranked third among the countries with the highest cases of police killings in 2020, wherein 3,451 people were killed or a rate of 322 victims per 10 million people.
- Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch reported back in September that according to government data, the Philippine National Police killed 50% more people between April and July of this year amid the ongoing pandemic.