MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will not protect Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca, the police officer who killed a mother and her son in Tarlac, Malacañang said Monday.
A video that went viral on social media showed Nuezca, 46, who is assigned at the Crime Laboratory based in Parañaque City, killing Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her son, Frank Anthony, 25 during an altercation in Paniqui town on Sunday.
In a press briefing from Davao City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace condemned the double murder, vowing justice for the mother and her son.
“Kinokondema po natin ‘yang nangyari diyan sa Tarlac. At lilinawin ko lang po, hindi po ito service-related na double murder. So ang pulis pong ‘yan ay hindi po pupuwede mag-invoke ng kahit anong depensa na may kinalaman sa kaniyang katungkulan ang pagpatay na ‘yan (We condemn what happened in Tarlac. And I want to clarify – this is not a service-related double murder. So that policeman cannot invoke any defense related to his duty in the murder case),” Roque said.
He also assured that Nuezca would face double murder charges for shooting the two unarmed victims once proven guilty.
“Ito po’y tatratuhin na ordinaryong murder cases at iimbestigahan, kakasuhan, lilitisin, at paparusahan po natin yung pulis na ‘yan. No ifs, no buts. Magkakaroon po ng katarungan dahil nakita naman natin yung ebidensya nung pangyayari. Hindi po ‘yan po-protektahan ng Presidente (These will be treated as ordinary murder cases that would be investigated and prosecuted, and we will punish that policeman. No ifs, no buts. There will be justice because we saw the evidence of the incident. The President will not protect him),” Roque said.
He noted that while Duterte promised to protect cops if their action was done in the performance of duty, the shooting incident in Tarlac could not be considered as such.
“Bakit ho po-protektahan ni Presidente ‘yan e hindi naman po ‘yan service-related. ‘Yan po ay pribadong bagay. Nagkataon lang police siya, pero kinakailangan siya managot (Why will the President protect him? What happened isn’t service-related. That is a private incident. It just so happens he’s a policeman, but he needs to be held accountable),” Roque added.
Few bad eggs
He acknowledged that there are a few bad eggs in the police force, but said the rest are committed to performing their roles in maintaining peace and order in the country.
“Merong iilang mga bugok po sa ating lipunan. Paulit-ulit naman po yung sinasabi ni Presidente na ang paggamit ng dahas ay para lamang sa mga pagkakataon na mayroong banta sa buhay ng pulis o ng isang kasundaluhan. Hindi po kinukunsinti ng Presidente ang mga gawaing mali (There are a few scalawags in society. The President has repeatedly said that the use of force is only for instances where there is a threat to the life of police or soldiers. The President will not condone any wrongdoing),” Roque said.
He also slammed critics and members of the opposition for supposedly using the hashtag #OustDuterteNow, dismissing them as being “greedy for power.”
“‘Yung ‘Oust Duterte’ naman po, alam naman natin kung sinong nasa likod niyan no. ‘Yung mga gahaman sa kapangyarihan at hindi makaantay ng 2022 (As for the ‘Oust Duterte’ calls, we know who is behind that. Those who are greedy for power and can’t wait until 2022),” he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he was “disturbed” by the death of the victims, which resulted from such an altercation.
He assured a swift investigation of the case to bring justice to the victims.
“As soon as the local police has filed the appropriate charges, the prosecutor’s office will conduct a preliminary investigation to determine probable cause. The DOJ will closely monitor developments in this case and ensure that justice is done,” Guevarra said in a statement.
Show no mercy
Senator Panfilo Lacson also urged the PNP to prosecute the suspect to the full extent of the law.
“If what’s on video tells the whole story, I enjoin the Philippine National Police leadership to show no mercy. They should spare no effort to make sure that he rots in jail. He’s the last policeman that they need in the force,” Lacson said in a statement.
Lacson, a former PNP chief, also urged the police force to consider guidelines in the carrying of firearms by off-duty policemen.
“As a policy recommendation, policemen should turn in their issued firearms to their unit’s armorer or supply officer when on off-duty status. That said, they should not be issued Permits to Carry Firearms Outside Residence (PTCFOR) while still in the active service,” he said. “The PNP should always uphold its motto “To Serve and Protect.” That includes taking appropriate steps to protect our people from scalawags in their ranks, whether they are on duty or not”.
No stray bullets
Roque, meanwhile, warned police officers against firing their guns indiscriminately during the Christmas and New Year revelries, saying these may cause untoward incidents.
“E kung pinagbabawal nga po ang karamihan ng mga paputok, bakit naman gagamitin ang baril. Ang bala ng gobyerno po para magpapatupad lamang ng batas, hindi po ‘yan para sa Bagong Taon (If most firecrackers are banned, why use a gun. The government’s bullet is for enforcing the law, not for the New Year),” he said.
Roque said law enforcers who fire their guns during holiday revelries may face criminal charges.
“At pag kayo’y nagpaputok pataas, bababa at bababa po ang bala diyan. Pag may tinamaan po ‘yan, meron kayong kriminal na pananagutan. So itigil niyo na po ‘yan. Itago niyo na po ang baril at puwede naman pagdiwang ng Bagong Taon sa ibang pamamaraan (If you shoot upwards, the bullets would eventually descend. If someone is hit, you have criminal responsibility. So stop that. Hide your gun. There are other ways to celebrate the New Year),” he added.
Reports showed that the shooting happened when Nuezca’s daughter figured in an argument with the elder Gregorio.
The police sergeant appeared to get annoyed when the older Gregorio yelled at his daughter.
A few moments later, the cop shot her in the head at close range and did the same to her son.
Nuezca continued to shoot Sonya in the head even after she fell to the ground.
He surrendered at 6:19 p.m. on Sunday, more than an hour after the shooting and was later taken into custody by personnel of the Paniqui police. (With reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)