December 21, 2020

The Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) strongly condemns the killing in cold-blood of Sonya Gregorio and her son, Frank Anthony of Paniqui, Tarlac by Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca.

As a humane and decent person, one does not simply shoot another in cold blood because of an altercation. As a law enforcer, there is that added responsibility and duty to protect the public precisely from this kind of brutality. As civilians, we have the right to expect that law enforcers are there to defend us from violence and lawlessness, to restore order and peace, and not to be the cause of our injury, harm and death.

This act of police brutality is not an isolated incident. Nuezca’s action is symptomatic of the growing culture of impunity and the rampant resort to violence of many unscrupulous individuals in the police force. AHRC calls on all law enforcers to always be mindful of their duty to serve the public, safeguard their lives and property, especially the weak and defenseless; and above all, honor and respect the sacredness of life and liberty enshrined in our constitution. The Philippine National Police is but a part of the bigger national justice system. The brazen resort to violence of any member of the police force must be stopped now and must never be encouraged by anyone, most especially by our leaders. Otherwise, we will face the dangers brought by further loss of trust in our justice institutions and the breakdown of peace and order in our communities.

We demand accountability and justice for the killing of Sonya and Frank Anthony, and all the other victims of senseless killings in the hands of people who bear the duty of preserving and defending the sanctity of our lives. We must once and for all end the culture of impunity that beset institutions tasked to serve and protect the public.

As we observe the holiday season, we continue to pray for renewed faith, hope and enlightenment for our public servants, so that we can have meaningful engagements with them without apprehension and fear. For those who carry arms, that they may always remember that these weapons of destruction are for the people’s protection, safety and welfare, and should therefore be used only with utmost caution and judiciousness, and never for the purpose to fast-track justice, much less to end an altercation.