MANILA - There is no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to reassess his orders to the police to shoot criminals, Malacañang said Tuesday, as it shrugged off criticisms that his rhetoric has emboldened police officers to abuse their powers with impunity.
The statement came after Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca shot to death his neighbors Sonia Gregorio, 58, and her son Frank, 25, after an argument over an improvised noisemaking cannon in Paniqui town, Tarlac last Sunday.
The violent incident revived calls to end killings in the Philippines and brutality of the Philippine National Police. Since he assumed post in 2016, Duterte had repeatedly ordered police officials to kill drug criminals, saying that he would personally protect them.
Even during his presidential campaign, he encouraged the public to kill drug addicts.
“Sa mula’t mula po, malinaw ang Presidente dahil siya ay isang abogado, piskal pa nga po. Sinasabi niya na poprotektahan niya ang mga pulis kung tama ang ginagawa, kung mali eh talagang parurusahan. At ang sinasabi niya, ang tanging test para gumamit ng dahas ang pulis ay kung mayroon talagang banta sa kaniyang buhay,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Anything short of a banta doon sa kaniyang buhay at gumamit ng dahas maybe a crime."
Roque also told the public to refrain from making generalizations about the PNP.
"Napakalaki po ng ating Philippine National Police. By and large, respetado po sila dahil talagang buhay ang kanilang kapital sa kanilang trabaho," he said.
"'Wag naman natin sila lahatin."
The government will study how to tighten the PNP recruitment service to prevent a repeat of the killings in Tarlac, he said.
"It takes only one of you to destroy the reputation and integrity of the institution," Roque reminded police officers.
Nueza, who has confessed to the crime, is facing two counts of murder and is under custody without bail.