Jonel Nuezca, the cop who was caught on cam killing his neighbors in Tarlac, yesterday pleaded not guilty to the murder charges filed against him, the Philippine National Police announced.
Lt. Col. Soledad Elifanio of Police Regional Office 3 said that Nuezca entered his plea on Jan. 7 when the cop was arraigned at a local court. Nuezca was charged with two accounts of murder for shooting to death his neighbors Sonya Guerrero and her son Frank Anthony Guerrero.
The next hearing for Nuezca’s case was scheduled for Feb. 4. He is currently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Tarlac.
It was just last month when Nuezca was demoted by one rank for allegedly extorting from a tricycle driver and his passenger in Taguig in 2014. He had also been charged for a slew of other cases, including two homicide charges allegedly committed in 2019. The cases, however, were dismissed due to a lack of substantial evidence.
Nuezca was caught in a viral video shooting to death the Gregorios after their family allegedly lit a bamboo cannon during a celebration. 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 using his service firearm, then killed Frank. Nuezca fled the crime scene with his daughter but surrendered about an hour after the killings.
Nuezca and the Gregorios reportedly had a long-standing feud over the right of way of their adjacent properties.
The Gregorios’ slaughter highlights a culture of impunity in the police force, one that critics say was encouraged by President Rodrigo 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 extrajudicial killings, a statement that his cabinet member said was just a jest.