PNP: Challenged but not demoralized

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The recent controversy involving Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca tarnished the still recovering image of the Philippine National Police, that even his own colleagues condemn.

The country was shocked when the video of the cold-blooded murder of Sonia and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio went viral on social media and other online platforms showing the gruesome murder in Paniqui, Tarlac, the evening of December 20.

Every Filipino cried foul over the murder as it showed the mother cuddling her son until his death, even the Hoi Polloi cannot accept the dastardly act.

First to condemn the gruesome KILLINGS was President Rodrigo Duterte who described Nuezca as a mad-man but considered the incident isolated.

This prompted the President to reiterate his call to all law enforcers “Do your duty, enforce the law. Your actions must be in accordance with the law. You do not follow the law, mag-salvage ka, magpatay ka diyan, then I’m sorry, that is not part of the agreement of how we should do our work”.

Duterte who for the nth time said he loves the PNP and the Military, but said, he won’t condone any wrongdoing.

The brutal shooting is an isolated case carried out by a police officer who was not in his right frame of mind, the President said, wondering how the cop was able to pass the Philippine National Police’s neuro-psychiatric screening process.

“Baka hindi ninyo talaga nakuha ha pero I don’t think that […] Isa lang itong klaseng pulis na ‘to. May sakit ito sa utak. Topak. And I was wondering why he was able to — nakalusot sa neuro. You could detect a person by the way he answers in a — ‘yung mga tests sa neuro,” he said.

The President even admitted he was shocked by the gruesome killings. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas went to the bereaved family and apologized for the actions of his policeman as he admitted he was “angry and saddened that our policemen committed such crime”.

The record:

Based on Nuezca’s records gathered by the Central Luzon police, the officer was investigated twice by the Internal Affairs Service for grave misconduct involving two homicides on May 9 and Dec. 29 last year.

He was charged administratively for grave misconduct in 2013, less serious neglect of duty for failing to submit himself to drug testing in 2014, on March 8, 2014 he was accused of extorting a tricycle driver, and serious neglect of duty for failing to appear as a prosecution witness in a drug case in 2016.

Sinas said the most Nuezca got was a 31-day suspension for avoiding the drug test because the other two less grave offenses were “dropped and closed”.

“All of these were dismissed because of lack of evidence and witnesses to pursue the administrative cases. So, more or less, no criminal case was filed against him,” Sinas said.

But On December 23, 2020, the Department of Interior and Local Government announced that Nuezca was demoted by the NAPOLCOM for a grave misconduct complaint filed in 2014.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) En Banc chaired by Secretary Eduardo M. Año issued the decision on October 21, 2020, imposing the penalty of one rank demotion to Nuezca for robbery-extortion.

The implementation order has been issued by the NAPOLCOM Central Office. Nuezca and his cohorts were penalized for mulcting some P10,000.00 from a tricycle driver.

The complainant was the mother of the tricycle driver. But for “this new case,” Sinas said, “the evidence against him is very strong so he was immediately detained, disarmed and issued an automatic leave of absence so his salary will be automatically cut”.

Few Bad Eggs:

The Philippine National Police is composed of 205,000 personnel, but everyone was hurt because of the Tarlac incident.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said not all Police are bad, like Duterte and Sinas, he stressed the Tarlac incident is an isolated case.

But no one can stop people from recalling only the bag eggs, because as government employees and public servants they are duty-bound to follow law and order.

For  PNP XI regional Director Brigadier General Filmore Escobal condemned the Tarlac incident  “it should not be tolerated”.

“I am proud to say that PRO XI is one of the most disciplined among police regional offices,” he revealed.

Asked if it demoralized the ranks, Escobal said “No because we engaged in the communities and the people know how we work for their welfare especially in the Geographically Disadvantaged and Isolated Areas (GIDA)”.

But he emphasized, “It should not be tolerated”. Police in the region, according to Escobal are trained to respond, and “They know how to use reasonable force in a given situation, they are trained how to handle a situation”.

Like Escobal, Misamis Occidental OIC Provincial Director  Police Colonel Rolindo Suguilon also condemned the act of Nuezca, he said justice must be served to the bereaved families.

He added, his command always serve to protect the people “We always do the best we can for our people.”

He stressed “Ang buhat nga daotan sa usa ka pulis dili sayop sa nasudnon pulisya (The act of one policeman is not the fault of the whole PNP.   

Davao City Police Director Colonel Kirby John Kraft is a statement stated, “The Davao City Police strongly condemns the shooting to death of two individuals by a police officer in Paniqui, Tarlac”.

Kraft said the unfortunate incident should have never happened if only maximum tolerance was observed on the part of the suspect being a police officer.  

He added,  “This is an isolated case and does not reflect the majority of PNP  Officers who are performing their duties every day with honor to make the people feel safe and secure”.

The incident, according to Kraft  “Is a reminder to all Davao City Police Officers to always observe maximum tolerance in the performance of their sworn duty to serve and protect the people.

They must remain calm at all times, to control their emotions no matter what the odds are, and to conduct themselves in a manner befitting their position as a member of the Philippine National Police”.

  On the call of PNP Chief Sinas for police personnel to undergo Anger Management training, Escobal said it is necessary.

“It is a positive move of Chief PNP given that we are faced with several situations, police personnel needs training and exposure, they need intervention on how to deal with the situation, we should be capable of subduing ourselves, na-manage mo ang sarili mo, our emotions should not affect our  response  or reaction.”

Given the gap between the years in which police underwent the neuro-psychiatric exam,  Escobal said they need a refresher “To avoid a similar incident in the future”.

A police officer who requested not to be identified said every police personnel was moved and angered by the Tarlac incident.

He also admitted that the controversy hurt the PNP as an organization. The officer said the PNP as an organization is faced with a challenge now “The PNP I should say is challenged but it does not mean that the organization is rotten.”-Editha Z. Caduaya

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