Jonel Nuezca, the cop whose cold-blooded shooting of his two neighbors caused a nationwide uproar in December 2020, has been convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to reclusión perpetua.
What does that mean? Though the term means “permanent imprisonment”, it is not the same as life imprisonment. Reclusión perpetua carries a fixed term of 40 years in prison—unlike life imprisonment, which can be longer.
Nuezca’s sentence also means that he will serve a mandatory term of at least 30 years before he is eligible for either parole or pardon. Nuezca will also be barred from holding political office for the rest of his life. Prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, however, are up for parole any time and may run for office.
Lastly, reclusión perpetua is meted out on crimes under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, while life imprisonment is for crimes punishable by Special Laws.
Sonia Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony were murdered by Nuezca in Paniqui, Tarlac, on December 20, following an argument. The shooting was caught on phone cam, and caused widespread outrage after the video went viral on social media. Despite the video evidence, Nuezca pled not guilty to the charges.
Prior to the murder of the Gregorios, Nuezca had also been charged for a number of other cases, including two homicides in 2019. The cases, however, were dismissed due to a lack of substantial evidence.
The hashtags #StopTheKillingsPH, #JusticeforSonyaGregorio, #EndPoliceBrutality, and #PulisAngTerrorista trended on social media after Nuezca was identified as a police officer. The hashtags, particularly #PulisAngTerrorista, resurfaced in 2021 after another police officer, Hensie Zinampan, was again caught on camera shooting a neighbor.