Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: August 26, 2021 09:45 AM GMT
A mugshot of Jonel Nuezca, the former police officer who shot dead his two neighbors, a mother and her son, in Tarlac in the Philippines. (Photo courtesy of Paniqui Municipal Police Station)
A court in the Philippines has jailed a former policeman for murdering a woman and her son during an altercation last year.
Jonel Nuezca was sentenced on Aug. 26 to serve 20-40 years for each count of murder by a regional trial court in Tarlac, north of Manila.
The court also ordered Nuezca to pay 952,560 pesos (US$19,000) to the family of victims Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, whom he shot in December 2020 in a crime that shocked the nation.
Nuezca had tried to arrest his neighbor Frank Gregorio for firing an air cannon made out of bamboo. A heated argument broke out and Nuezca opened fire when Sonya Gregorio intervened.
Footage of the shooting taken by another neighbor and shared on social media showed the off-duty policeman shooting Sonya Gregorio while she was on the ground and then walking off with his daughter.
The policeman reportedly said, “Son of a bitch, you want me to finish you off now?” before killing the victims.
No one is above the law and your firearms are meant to protect and not to harm or kill the people you ought to protect and serve
His conviction, nine months after his arrest, was considered swift justice in the Philippines, where cases often take 5-10 years to pass through the judicial system.
Father Diogenes Encarnacion of Digos Diocese in Davao province said the case should serve as a warning to policemen who think they are above the law.
“May this case bring you fear that in the end justice will prevail. No one is above the law and your firearms are meant to protect and not to harm or kill the people you ought to protect and serve,” Father Encarnacion told UCA News.
“Police [officers] should not be breakers of the law; rather, they should uphold it. Your effectivity is not based on the number of people that you kill but on the number of lives you protect.”
According to government figures, police killings in the Philippines have increased by 50 percent since the Covid-19 lockdowns began in April 2020, with almost 7,500 people killed by the end of July 2021.
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