MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday rejected the claim of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the brutal killing in Tarlac involving a police officer was an isolated incident.
Interviewed on ANC, CHR commissioner Karen Dumpit urged the police force to take a closer look at their practices that allegedly allow some officers to act with impunity.
"It's not really an isolated case, if you take a look at the language, if you take a look at the applause that comes after each and every killing. And we're not just talking about this case, there have been many in the past," she said.
Dumpit also lamented that the PNP has not been cooperating with the rights body in recent investigations on possible lapses in police operations.
"Whenever there's a death following a police operation, they would not share information. When there are vigilante killings, the investigation is not forthcoming," she said.
"Non-cooperation is really a signal that they're not open to engage and show and demonstrate that they’re trying to respond to the situation properly."
In the wake of the shooting incident in Paniqui town, where an officer shot a mother and her son over an argument, the human rights commissioner said the police force must acknowledge where it went wrong to make immediate corrections, particularly on its mechanism in punishing erring members.
"Ang pulis kasi sinusumbungan 'yan, hindi sinusumbong," she said.
(The public report to the police, not report on them.)
According to a document obtained by ABS-CBN News, the suspect identified as Police Master Senior Sgt. Jonel Nuezca has faced a string of administrative cases in the past.
In 2019, 2 cases of grave misconduct for homicide were filed against the policeman, but these were dismissed "for lack of substantial evidence."
He was also accused of serious neglect of duty in 2016 for failing to attend a court hearing as a witness in a drug case.
In 2014, Nuezca was suspended for a month for less grave neglect of duty for refusing to take a drug test.
Dumpit also said leaders must be circumspect in their remarks, which may be construed as orders by their subordinates.
"That's why we've been saying all along, the easiest thing to do is... change your language. Make it positive. The substance of the language should be to preserve human lives. It should be respectful of human rights," she said.
"Stop words that incite hatred, words that incite violence because that's the one that enables law enforcement agencies to commit this kind of acts."
Due to a dispute over a holiday noisemaker, Nuezca shot to death mother and son - Sonia Gregorio, 55, and Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25 - in Paniqui, Tarlac Sunday afternoon. The incident was caught on video and posted on social media.
The attack quickly drew widespread condemnation, with some officials calling for reforms in the PNP and netizens pleading to stop the killings.
Nuezca, who is assigned at the Parañaque City police crime laboratory, surrendered to authorities and was charged for 2 counts of murder.
In an earlier interview, the PNP maintained the killing was isolated and Nuezca's action doesn't represent the whole organization.
"This particular case actually will not make the PNP as if we're totally wrong because as I was saying, this is an isolated case. The murder criminal action has already been filed. The [officer's] dismissal will be forthcoming. The PNP will have to move on from there," PNP spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night condemned the incident, saying Nuezca was different from other policemen and may be suffering from mental illness.
"I told you, you do it right, I'm with you. You do it wrong, and there will be hell to pay," he said.
The President has previously pledged to protect the police who implements his centerpiece anti-narcotics campaign, where killings have drawn condemnation from politicians, civil society and rights groups here and abroad.
The state has many times denied involvement in summary killings.