No, This Isn’t An Isolated Case Of Police Violence—It Just Happened To Be Filmed

Stop the killings now.

Ahead of the claim of strict discipline, an officer sparks outrage of police violence and brutality after gunning down an unarmed mother and son.

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Murder, bloody murder.

For most of us wired on social media, the soul-stirring shock of what quickly became a sensitive and highly graphic viral video was an anger-consuming and blood-boiling start to the week of Christmas. But for the families involved, especially of the fallen victims of a clear display of trigger-happy power trip, the horror began in the afternoon of Sunday in Paniqui, Tarlac with a petty altercation about the use of a boga (improvised bamboo or PVC cannon). All caught on video, the timeline followed an emotional stand-off between an off-duty officer of the force, police corporal Jonel Nuezca, and Frank Gregorio, who was later joined by his mother, Sonya Gregorio, to intervene a threat of arrest, before it erupted into a heated altercation that revealed what seemed to be a deep-rooted dispute about a property right-of-way.

The tussle escalated into a verbal word war that eventually focused on Sonya Gregorio and the policeman’s daughter. “My father is a policeman,” she growled at the woman many years her senior. “I don’t care,” Gregorio snapped back in the same truncated trail as that of the 2NE1 hit song. “Putangina, gusto mo tapusin kita ngayon ah?” the gun-wielding cop barked, before acting on the ultimate act of police violence, shooting the Gregorios at close range, not once, but twice as their bodies hit the ground.

Burning through the timelines of social media, this blatant display of police brutality and clear disregard of the law naturally sparked a forest fire of disgust, disbelief,and distrust. Fueled by an outrage of anger, calls to #StopTheKillings quickly magnified, as well as of other similar dissident manifestations such as ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), Defund The Police, and Pulis Ang Terorista (Police Are Terrorists). It also rightfully compelled Instagram watch accounts holding the government and all its agencies liable in the digital space. Appropriately denouncing the eventual statement of DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano that claimed, “This is an unfortunate but isolated incident. While there are unfortunate incidents like this, the vast majority of our PNP personnel perform their sworn duties everyday with honor and integrity to protect and serve the people. The sin of Nuezca is not the sin of the entire Philippine National Police.”

“It is unacceptable when they are the ones being at the forefront of perpetuating such human rights violations. This incident reechoes our call to the government urging for the conduct of widespread investigations on every allegation of arbitrary killing,” said Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson, Jacqueline Ann de Guia in a statement on the continued display of police violence. In fact, this year alone, we’ve seen police violence, abuse, and human rights violations in the cases such as, but not limited to that of Cpl. Winston Ragos being shot at checkpoint in broad daylight, the baseless arrests of Piston 6, Marikina 10, and Pride 20 among others, dispersal of San Roque residents, the harassing of Reina Nasino and the hijacking of her Baby River’s funeral, and the maltreatment and illegal arrests done by Kawit police chief and cohorts. Obviously and respectfully, this isn’t an isolated case, because the police force under this government has had a long and lingering history with a vengeful vendetta against anyone who would stand in their way, the most prominent being the 2017 case of 17-year old Kian Delos Santos who was mercilessly slain by the now convicted police officers. Compounded by an overarching impunity from the head of state and a license to kill, these weapon-toting, power-hungry, and blood-thirsty hounds have been playing god, lording over innocent lives as if they were arbiters of the law. Come to think of it, the gun they ore brazenly carry on and off duty doesn’t actually make them powerful. If anything, it illustrates what kind of cowardice they harbor behind their badge and beneath their uniform, truly indicative of the decay and degradation of humanity they reflect.

The Palace has since distanced themselves from Jonel Nuezca, who eventually surrendered to the authorities and was charged with double murder. It was also revealed that the police officer has had six cases over the last decade of service for grave misconduct, serious neglect of duty, refusal to undergo a drug test, an administrative case, and suspension, as well as of two homicide cases charged in 2019, which were dismissed due to an alleged lack of substantial evidence. “Iimbestigahan, kakasuhan at lilitisin po natin ang pulis na iyan. No ifs, no buts,” said Presidential Spokesperson, Harry Roque. “Magkakaroon po ng katarungan dahil kitang kita naman po natin ang ebidensya ng pangyayari. Hindi po iyan  po-protektahan ng Presidente. Kinokondena po natin iyan.

The strongman culture anchored on hate and fear has to stop. How many more lives have to be caught in the crossfire as collateral damage before this inhumanity is put to an end? All attention is zeroed in on seeking justice for Frank and Sonya Gregorio, as well as of amplifying calls to stop the killings, but what if it wasn’t caught on video? Will we be as consumed by rage and fury as we are now? Responding to the pervading issue of racism in 2016, Will Smith said that it isn’t getting worse, “It’s just being filmed.” True enough, years later, when the Black Lives Matter movement took on a life of its own following the senseless and brutal murder of George Floyd that was recorded, it lit a fire under the ass of America amid the pandemic and woke them to their senses. Now, will this be the same case here? Well, we are always hopeful.

Taking into account a riddle of fatigue on various fronts, understandable emotions and reactions to the murder of the Gregorios, and the slow and selective state of justice to the fortunate few, there have been no major motions to stand up beyond the confines of social media just yet. The police violence and brutality have been condemned, yes, but perhaps not enough to equal the force of power that the ruling segments of society hold as currency to their misgivings. So, the question here is, with a firm anger in place, will the rest of the country just continue to watch and let this be another forgotten statistic written in stone or is this the time accountability, safety, and justice is finally demanded from those sworn to serve and protect the constitution and the Filipino people?

You decide.

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