MANILA: Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday labeled Police MSgt. Jonel Nuezca a “cold-blooded murderer” and a “disgrace to the police profession.”
In a news release, Año assured the public that Nuezca would face the full force of the law for the double murder of a mother and son over an altercation in Paniqui, Tarlac last 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 (We will not let this gruesome killing pass. He will rot in jail),” he 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 tainted the good image of the police that we have worked hard to improve for a long time. He is one of the rotten eggs in the ranks of the police whom we have to get rid of and teach a lesson).”
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 Nos. 313-20 and 314-20 at the Regional Trial Court of Paniqui.
The accused, he said, has smeared the memory of 229 police officers who were killed in action while fighting crime, drug syndicates, and communist-terrorists since 2016, apart from 812 others who 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,” Año said, noting that the Philippines’ improved 12th ranking in the 2020 Global Law and Order Gallup Survey and the people’s confidence in the police force were largely due to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) intensive anti-criminality campaign in previous years.
He called the survey result a testament to the PNP’s long but decisive efforts to improve the law enforcement system in the country.
Both the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the PNP would never tolerate wrongdoings in the police service, Año said, appealing to the public not to condemn the entire police organization for Nuezca’s crimes.
“Ang kasalanan ng ilang bulok na pulis ay hindi kasalanan ng buong 220,800 police organization (The sins of a few rotten cops are not the sins of the entire police organization),” he said. “Ang ating kapulisan ay buong tapang na nagsisilbi ng tapat sa publiko. Sana huwag natin iyang kalimutan (The police force is bravely serving the public. We should not forget that).”
Reforms in PNP
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 personnel 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.
Some 564 PNP personnel have also been removed for involvement in illegal drugs.
“Kaya itong si Nuezca ay tiyak na mabubulok sa kulungan tulad ng mga nauna nang tinanggal at kinasuhan ng PNP (Nuezca will surely rot in jail, just like the others before him who have been dismissed and facing charges),” Año said.
In a public address, Duterte condemned the senseless killings, warning 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 (if you salvage or kill), then I’m sorry, that is not part of the agreement of how we should do our work,” he said.
Police as anti-Covid front-liners
Año said since the start of the pandemic in March, a total of 91,544 police officers have been serving on the front lines to fight the deadly virus.
As a result, 8,735 Covid cases within the police organization have been reported, with 27 deaths, 337 still battling the disease, and 8,371 who have since recovered.
Of the 91,544 police officers, 54,471 have been deployed to quarantine control points, dedicated control points, quick response teams, national support units, and various ports, among others, while 37,073 have been 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 (Let’s not include the entire police force in this).” (PR)