December 23, 2020 (6:54 PM)

5 min read


When hot headed, trigger-happy policemen are tasked to “serve and protect” the people, it is no surprise that innocent lives fall victim to their power to kill. 

Outrage, disgust, and sorrow dominated social media platforms when a disturbing footage of a police officer brutally killing two unarmed civilians circulated online on Sunday. The video shows Sgt. Jonel Nuezca, in plainclothes, shooting dead without remorse his two neighbors, Sonya Gregorio, 52, and Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25 after a heated argument over firing of boga or bamboo-made noisemakers. The scene of the grey-haired mother and her son clutching each other before Nuezca shot them each a second time has made it to the list of several Pieta-like images that surfaced during the Duterte administration.

And yet, as many have said, the odds of justice being served are greater for the Gregorios since the crime was caught on camera. But how many more were swept under the rug just because they weren’t filmed? How many times has the police eluded punishment for “lack of evidence”?

It is sickening to hear yet again of incidents involving the police and their blatant abuse of authority. Just because the Philippine National Police (PNP) is a state apparatus with the license to use violence supposedly to “keep the peace,” doesn’t mean that this should be dispensed conveniently and for personal reasons. Nuezca is a shameless example of the morally bankrupt institution that he represents; and, while it would be unfair to generalize, his crime reveals the culture of violence and impunity that has plagued our country for generations.

This incident is clearly a product of a framework that is structured to instill force and coercion as the solution to all of our nation’s ills. President Duterte has often given the police “shoot-to-kill” orders and has been pampering them by raising their salaries, as well as making them the star of his war on drugs, so much so that men like Nuezca have been emboldened to take the law into their own hands. Is this to be the fate of our police force–an institution tasked to “serve and protect,” now the same establishment that evokes fear and disturbs the peace?

It has been argued over and over that the Gregorio murder was an isolated case. But a closer look at the data actually proves that police brutality persists and has occurred many times this year alone. In the 2020 World Population Review, the Philippines is third in the list of countries with most number of police killings in the world with 3,451 cases (READ: Tarlac shooting, not an isolated case). The “99 percent who are good cops,” as Interior Secretary Eduardo Año insists, are dubious at best and still dangerous at worst, when they are operating under the same system that tolerates violence and gives very little value to human life.  

When Nuezca pulled the trigger on Sonya and Frank Gregorio, it was clear that the ego behind the man was no ordinary sense of vanity. It was a conceit that sprung from his possession of a firearm and the backing of his enabler-in-chief. 

Although Nuezca has now surrendered to the concerned authorities and the evidence against him is strong, it remains to be seen whether swift justice demanded by the Gregorio family will be delivered. PNP Chief Debold Sinas has already said that “due process” will be given to Nuezca. How fortunate for a murderer when thousands from the masses have been denied this constitutional right as they were killed in secluded alleyways and reported as “nanlaban.”

Policy reform in the PNP such as surrendering firearms when not on duty and the more radical replacement of all officers–from the highest-ranking chief to the lowest-ranking officer may be possible courses of action, but these would be useless if their enabler-in-chief stays in power. Duterte must stop throwing violent threats and ordering the PNP to serve as his executioners. Otherwise, he can leave Malacanang and finally put an end to his bloodstained administration.  

The killing of Sonya and Frank Gregorio is only one of the thousands of cases of violence, some even more brutal, committed by law enforcers in this country. Just because other crimes weren’t caught on camera, does not mean they didn’t happen. We should lend our ears more to the voices that are shunned by police reports which automatically privilege the men in uniform, to the families that wretchedly cry for justice in a system that delays and denies it. 

Like so many times before, we call for justice for Sonya and Frank Gregorio, and demand that Sgt. Nuezca be punished accordingly, without special treatment, for his crime. The cycle of violence must end, otherwise we are all vulnerable to being the next victims of an unacceptable crime, as if our lives are worth so little. 

About Kevin Cody Mahinay - MERAKI

Kevin Cody has always been a storyteller and a communicator by heart. He is currently an AB Communication student at Ateneo de Davao University. He loves to do things with soul, creativity and love.

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