“A cold-blooded murderer and a disgrace to the police profession.” Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said this on Wednesday as he assured the people that Police MSgt. Jonel Nuezca would face the full force of the law for the double murder of a mother and son over an altercation in Paniqui, Tarlac Sunday.
The shooting incident, recorded on a mobile phone, has since gone viral. “Justice will be served to the family of victims Sonya and son Frank Anthony Gregorio. Hindi natin palalagpasin ang karumal-dumal na pagpatay sa kanila. Mabubulok si Nuezca sa kulungan,” Año said.
“Sinira nya ang magandang imahe ng kapulisan na mahabang taon na nating pinaghihirapan. Isa siya sa mga bulok sa hanay ng kapulisan na kailangan nating walisin at turuan ng leksiyon,” he stressed.
Año updated President Rodrigo Duterte on the criminal case against Nuezca who has been subjected to an inquest by the Tarlac Provincial Prosecutor for two counts of murder. The cases were docketed as Criminal Case Numbers 313-20 and 314-20 before the Regional Trial Court of Paniqui.
The DILG Secretary said the accused has smeared the memory of 229 police officers who were killed in action while flghting crime, drug syndicates, and communist terrorists since 2016. In addition, 812 policemen have been wounded in police operations.
"We will now have to work doubly hard to rebuild the reputation of the police organization and institute more reforms to prevent a repeat of this incident,” he said.
He said the Philippines’ improved 12th ranking in the 2020 Global Law and Order Gallup Survey, and the people’s confidence in the police force was largely due to the PNP’s intensive anti-criminality campaign in previous years.
The survey result, Año says, is a testament to the PNP’s long but decisive efforts to improve the law enforcement system in the country.
Año said both the DILG and the PNP would never tolerate wrongdoings in the police service. He appealed to the public not to condemn the entire police organization for the crimes of Nuezca.
"Ang kasalanan ng ilang bulok na pulis ay hindi kasalanan ng buong 220,800 police organization,” Año said. “Ang ating kapulisan ay buong tapang na nagsisilbi ng tapat sa publiko. Sana huwag natin iyang kalimutan.”
Reforms in PNP
Already, a total of 16,839 police officers have been penalized since 2016 under the PNP’s internal cleansing program to rid its ranks of scalawags.
Data showed that 4,784 police have been dismissed from the service, 8,349 have been suspended, and 1,803 have been reprimanded. Other punishments included demotion, forfeiture of salary, restriction, and withholding of privileges.
Also, 564 PNP personnel have been removed for involvement in illegal drugs. “Kaya itong si Nuezca ay tiyak na mabubulok sa kulungan tulad ng mga nauna ng tinanggal at kinasuhan ng PNP,” Año said.
President Duterte, in his public address, condemned the senseless killings even as he warned other police officers against abuse. “Your actions must be in accordance with the law. You do not follow the law, mag-salvage ka, magpatay ka diyan, then I’m sorry, that is not part of the agreement of how we should do our work,” the President said.
Police as anti- COVID frontliners
Año said that since the start of the pandemic in March, 91,544 police officers have been serving in the frontlines to fight the deadly virus. As a result, 8,735 COVID cases within the police organization have been reported, with 27 policemen who died, 337 still battling the infection, and 8,371 others who have since recovered.
“Of the 91,544 police officers, 54,471 are deployed in quarantine control points, dedicated control points, quick response teams, national support units, and various ports, among others. On the other hand, 37,073 policemen are assigned as reactionary standby support force.
"Let’s not forget that there are thousands of policemen and policewomen out there who are performing their duties well to serve and protect the people, even those who condemn them,” Ano said.
“Kaya huwag po nating lahatin ang ating kapulisan,” he added.