The Philippine government said it would prosecute a police officer over the deaths of a mother and son, after a video of the point blank shooting went viral in social media, prompting renewed calls against police violence and extrajudicial killings.
Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca is facing double murder charges over the death of Sonya Gregorio and her son, Frank Anthony, who were Nuezca’s neighbours in Tarlac province north of the capital, according to the police report. The officer has surrendered to authorities, it said.
A video of the shooting has been circulating on social media, although YouTube Inc removed it because of violent content. #StopTheKillingsPH is one of several topics on the crime that trended on Twitter Inc., with more than 700,000 tweets.
“We condemn what happened in Tarlac. That cop cannot invoke any defence that the killing is related to his duty,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Monday “We will investigate, file charges, try and punish that policeman — no ifs, no buts,” he said, adding that President Rodrigo Duterte will not protect Nuezca.
The killing underscores the impunity that prevails in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement on Monday. “It took place in the context of an enabling environment for police violence that President Duterte himself has encouraged,” Robertson said, adding there had been instances when Duterte excused police misconduct.
Nearly 5,000 suspected drug users and dealers have died from July 2016 to September 2018, while the police said in mid-2018 that more than 23,000 killings were under investigation since the start of Duterte’s term, according to a Human Rights Watch report last year.
The International Criminal Court is probing the Philippines’ drug war, prompting Duterte to withdraw the nation’s participation in the court recognised by more than 100 countries.