Espinoza: Dangerous precedence

Elias L. Espinoza
·3 min read

MANY are astounded by the national police leadership's kid gloves treatment of Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, the policemen whose video went viral after he shot and killed point blank Sonya Gregorio, 52, and Patrick Anthony Gregorio in broad daylight in Paniqui, Tarlac, due to a personal rift despite President Rodrigo Duterte's strong condemnation of Nuezca's horrible act where he finished off Sonya with a second shot.

That policemen should undergo reorientation and seminar on anger management as pointed out by PNP Chief General Debold Sinas is well taken, but that would not in any way restore the badly tarnished image of the national police neither bring back to life Sonya and her son Patrick, or repair the severely hurt feelings of the Gregorio's grieving family and the community.

Metaphorically, many, who saw the unbelievable and horrifying video that we thought is only seen in action movies, want the head of Nuezca. A tit-for-tat? Even President Duterte, who was speaking during the Monday meeting of the anti-coronavirus task force, was literally angry on what Nuezca did to the hapless victims.

Florentino Gregorio, the widow and father of Anthony, decried how his wife and son were treated like animals by Nuezca, who was with his minor daughter who was seen on video crying and appeared to have prevented his father. That was a terrifying event for Nuezca's daughter that I believe she would need counseling.

The PNP's labeling of the killing as isolated could be a dangerous precedence. In fact, Representative Raffy Biazon disagreed. He said the incident is a symptom of what could be an ailing institution. "Don't stop at prosecution of one but follow with an evaluation of the training, the monitoring of skills, mental health and discipline, as well as protocols and procedures," Biazon added.

Senator Ping Lacson, former PNP chief, recommended, in relation to this gruesome case, that policemen turn in their issued firearms to their unit's armorer or supply officer when on off-duty status. He added that cops should not be issued Permits to Carry Firearms Outside Residence while still in the active service.

The President said: "I am sure that by now, he should not be allowed to go out because double murder 'yon eh. Double murder is a serious offense, a grave offense. So, from the time you are arrested up to the time that you are haled to court to answer for the death of those two persons, innocent ones, walang bail ka. So 'pag nahuli ka, diretso-diretso na 'yan. And I don't think that you can escape the rigors of justice because nakuha sa TV pati ako napanganga. Kawalawalang kwenta."

The President said he holds the police as well as the military in high regard but, he said, there some who are "sick" like Nuezca. The National Police Commission that has administrative authority over the policemen should have also caused the outright dismissal of Nuezca from the police service to serve as an example that criminal acts of those sworn to serve and protect the people are not condoned. The video of Nuezca's fiendish act is the sole damning evidence.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año defended the police organization, saying "the sin of Nuezca is not the sin of the entire Philippine National Police. As we have seen during this pandemic, they place their very lives on the line as frontliners in our Covid response." Agree! But Mr. Secretary put in place reforms that will improve the policemen morale and for them to be true to the PNP's motto "To Serve and Protect."

By the way before the 25th would arrive, Merry Christmas everyone!