MANILA, Philippines — The policeman who shot dead a 52-year-old woman and her 25-year-old son in Paniqui, Tarlac province, on Sunday avoided prosecution for two homicides last year and kept his badge due to lack of evidence and witnesses.
Police Gen. Debold Sinas, the Philippine National Police chief, said on Monday that he was mulling an anger management program for all police personnel following the killings involving Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca of the Parañaque City police crime laboratory.
Nuezca shot his neighbors dead, as shown in a video that went viral on social media, during a confrontation triggered by the firing of a banned New Year’s Eve noisemaker by the woman’s son, but also involved a long-standing dispute over right of way in the neighborhood.
‘Angry and saddened’
At a press briefing on Monday in Camp Crame, Sinas admitted that when he initially saw the video of Nuezca shooting Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio, he was “angry and saddened that our policemen committed such crime.”
He said that based on Nuezca’s records gathered by the Central Luzon police, the officer was investigated twice by the Internal Affairs Service for grave misconduct involving two homicides on May 9 and Dec. 29 last year.
“All of these were dismissed because of lack of evidence and witnesses to pursue the administrative cases. So, more or less, no criminal case was filed against him,” Sinas said.
He noted that Nuezca was also charged administratively for grave misconduct in 2013, less serious neglect of duty for failing to submit himself to drug testing in 2014, and serious neglect of duty for failing to appear as a prosecution witness in a drug case in 2016.
Sinas said the most Nuezca got was a 31-day suspension for avoiding the drug test because the other two less grave offenses were “dropped and closed.”
But for “this new case,” Sinas said, “the evidence against him is very strong so he was immediately detained, disarmed and issued an automatic leave of absence so his salary will be automatically cut.”
Nuezca surrendered on Monday to the Paniqui police which the PNP chief described as “showing character” as he was willing to face the penalty of the crime he committed as his anger dissipated. He is facing double-murder charges.
“We are now consulting with our neuropsychiatric doctors here in Camp Crame to determine the effect … So we are trying to study why it happened very suddenly,” Sinas said.
“We might also have a study on anger management of our people,” he added.
Sinas also said he was discouraging people from taking videos or photos of crimes, as it could put them at risk.
He said people should not post pictures or videos of crimes on social media, but should submit these to the police as evidence. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO INQ