Jonel Nuezca, the cop who shot to death his neighbors in Tarlac, was linked to two homicide cases, displaying a history of violence and an almost consistent failure to uphold his job as a public servant.
Philippine National Police chief General Debold Sinas said yesterday that Nuezca was investigated for grave misconduct due to the latter’s involvement with two homicides that happened on May 9 and Dec. 29 in 2019. Both cases were dismissed by the police allegedly because of a “lack of evidence and witnesses to pursue the administrative cases,” Sinas said.
In addition, Nuezca was also charged for grave misconduct in 2013, but he got away scot-free after the case was “dropped and closed.” He was also suspended in December 2015 for a month after he refused to take a drug test and left the testing area “without permission/clearance” from inspectors. Capping off his list of misdemeanors is a charge for “serious neglect of duty” in 2016 after he failed to attend a court hearing, where he was supposed to stand as the prosecution’s witness in a drug case.
Nuezca was caught in a viral video shooting to death his neighbors Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio after their family allegedly lit a bamboo cannon. In the video, Sonya is seen wrapping her arms around Frank to protect the latter from the cop’s wrath, while Nuezca’s daughter told the woman to let go because her father “is a policeman.”
Sonya shot back by singing the 2ne1 song “I Don’t Care,” which angered Nuezca. The policeman shot her point-blank, then killed Frank. Nuezca, who was off-duty at that time, fled the crime scene with his daughter but surrendered about an hour after the killing.
Nuezca and the Gregorios reportedly had a long-standing feud over the right of way of their adjacent properties. The cop has been indicted for double murder, with no bail recommended.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte tried to distance himself from the shooting, saying in a speech last night that Nuezca was “insane.” The president is not a psychiatrist or mental health professional.
“I don’t think…this policeman is just one of a kind. He has a mental illness. Insane. I’m just wondering why he was able to, pass the neuro [exams],” Duterte said.
Nuezca’s slaughter of the Gregorios highlights a culture of impunity in the police force, once that critics say was encouraged by Duterte himself. The chief executive, the architect of a bloody drug war, has said on multiple occasions that cops can kill suspects. He even encouraged the police force to kill human rights activists who oppose his drug war.
In 2018, Duterte even said that his only “sin” was encouraging cops to commit extra judicial killings, a statement that his cabinet member said was just a jest.