By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “The sin of Nuezca is not the sin of the entire Philippine National Police.”
This is the statement of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año after the Police MSgt Joniel Nuezca killed a mother and her son in Paniqui, Tarlac. Año added that policemen also “place their lives on the line as frontliners in our COVID response.”
But many people are still enraged with how Nuezca easily took the lives of Sonya Gregorio, 52 and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, over an issue that can be easily settled. The hashtag #StopTheKillingsPH is still trending as of this writing.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, said that this is not an isolated case, “especially when governance and culture is being driven by President Rodrigo Duterte’s rabid kill-kill-kill policy,” she said in a statement.
Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, called it impunity. “When the police think they can do anything, including shoot unarmed civilians at point blank, and when they show us how human life has very little value nowadays. #StopTheKillingsPH,” he posted in his social media account.
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.
Here are some of the incidents of killings and gross rights violations involving men in uniform:
On Feb. 7, at least 150 armed policemen and soldiers raided two offices of progressive groups in Tacloban City and arrested journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio and five other human rights defenders. A fact-finding mission reported that the firearms and explosives were planted by the raiding teams.
On April 1, police violently dispersed and arrested at least 21 residents of sitio San Roque in Quezon City while they were protesting the lack of government assistance during the implementation of enhanced community quarantine.
On April 21, Cpl. Winston Ragos, a former soldier was shot dead by Police Master Sergeant Daniel Florendo, Jr. in Quezon City. Florendo was among the police manning the checkpoint along Maligaya Drive in barangay Pasong Putik when Ragos approached and shouted at them. Despite pleading from the people nearby and those who knew Ragos’s mental health condition, Florendo still shot him claiming that the latter was about to pull out a gun from his sling bag. Ragos was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following his assignment in Marawi City.
On Labor Day, police arrested 76 activists in separate incidents. Among them were 10 volunteers who were arrested in Marikina City while conducting a feeding program. In Quezon City, 18 youth volunteers were arrested while preparing for food distribution in barangay Central in Quezon City. Thirty-five members of different progressive organizations were also arrested in Jaro, Iloilo while holding a protest caravan.
On May 7, fish vendor Joseph “Mang Dodong” Jimeda was arrested by the police for not having a valid quarantine pass. He was trying to buy fish to sell at the Navotas Fish Port when arrested. He stayed for 12 days in detention.
On May 10, six farmers were arrested by the elements of Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in barangay Coral Ni Lopez, Calaca, Batangas. Joint forces of SWAT and CIDG served eight search warrants “which they used to forcibly enter homes, plant guns as evidence, and arrest the six farmers.” The farmers were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
On May 12, worker Ronald Campo was nabbed by the police in General Trias, Cavite. He was arrested by the police for allegedly violating quarantine protocol. Brothers of the victim said Campo was arrested with other violators and was brought to the town plaza. They were ordered to perform push-ups as a punishment, and Campo passed out. An officer woke him up and brought him to a dark corner of the plaza where he was beaten up.
On June 6, six jeepney drivers who were protesting the loss of their livelihood due to the pandemic were arrested by the police in Monumento, Caloocan. According to the police, the 6 drivers dubbed as Piston 6, violated the health protocols and were fined P3,000 each ($60). Two of the six jeepney drivers tested positive after they were released from jail.
On June 26, members of the LGBTQIA+ commemorating the Pride month in a protest in Mendiola were violently dispersed by the police. At least 20 of them were arrested.
On June 29, four soldiers were shot dead by the police in Jolo, Sulu. According to reports, the soldiers were in an intelligence mission and were not armed when the incident happened. Autopsy report also showed that the all four soldiers were shot in the back.
On July 2, Fabel Pineda, 15 years old, was killed in Ilocos Sur after filing a complaint against a policeman in their town. The teenager and her cousin were arrested by the police allegedly for violating the curfew. According to the report, both were drunk and the police took advantage of the two girls’ condition. Two police officers were identified as suspects in the murder namely police sergeants Randy Ramos and Marawi Torda who were assigned at the San Juan Municipal Police Station, Ilocos Sur.
On Aug. 10, police forcibly took the remains of peace consultant and peasant leader Randall Echanis from the custody of his family. The police claimed that there is no order to release the body despite the fact that the family positively identified Echanis.
On Oct. 16, the police hijacked the burial of River Emmanuelle, daughter of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino. The police commanded the driver of the hearse to quickly depart from the funeral parlor leaving behind her family and supporters. Policemen and jail guards also attempted to whisk Nasino away while visiting her daughter’s wake.
On Nov. 11, two members of the Cordillera Police Office’s drug enforcement unit were tagged as suspects in the beheading of a 25-year-old man in Benguet province. Reports said that the victim was allegedly abducted on Nov. 11. The next day his body was found with a black shirt wrapped around his neck in Tublay, Benguet. The Baguio police said there is evidence that the two policemen are involved in the kidnapping and are responsible for the killing.
On Nov. 20, two elderly National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants, Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio were killed in a pre-dawn police raid in Angono, Rizal. Their son, lawyer VJ Topacio, said his parents had medical conditions and could not possibly resisted arrest, as police claimed.
In the early morning of Dec. 2, police arrested the daughter of slain peace consultant Randall Echanis, Amanda and her one-month old son in Cagayan Valley. The police alleged that Amanda had in her possession several firearms and ammunition.
On Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, six activists and one journalist were arrested by the police in separate raids in Manila, Quezon City and Mandaluyong City. Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem said they were ordered by the police to turn their back for one hour while the police planted evidence.