A long-standing land dispute that was revived by a firing of polyvinyl pipe, locally known as boga, triggered a police sergeant to shoot dead in cold blood a 52-year old woman and her 25-year old son in front of their residence in Paniqui, Tarlac on Sunday.
The entire incident of how Police Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca shot his two neighbors in the head at close range was captured in a video that has gone viral and sparked anger and anti-police sentiments in the social media.
Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that he too was saddened and angered by how the killing was perpetrated by a police officer.
“When I saw the video, of course angry and saddened that our policemen (sic) committed such crime,” said Sinas, referring to the video that went viral on Monday.
Quoting an initial result of the investigation, Sinas said that Nuezca had just arrived home when he saw the verbal tussle between his family and the relatives of victims Sonya Gregorio and Frank Anthony Gregorio in Barangay Cabayaoasan in Paniqui town on Sunday afternoon.
The younger Gregorio was reportedly drunk and caught the ire of the family of Nuezca when he allegedly fired the boga which was reportedly banned in the area.
“During the confrontation, their old grudge over the right of way (land dispute) was brought out provoking the suspect,” said Brig. Gen. Valeriano de Leon, director of the Central Luzon regional police, for his part.
In the viral video, Nuezca was heard saying that he was placing the younger Gregorio under arrest and was just waiting for the arrival of the barangay officials.
During that time, the younger Gregorio was seen being restrained by his mother Sonya while their other relatives were pacifying him.
‘My Father is a Policeman!’
While Nuezca was holding the younger Gregorio, his daughter who was then in the area taking video of the incident using her smartphone, approached the victims and joined the fray.
She was seen reaching Sonya before she was heard shouting in the video and also yelled at the latter: “My father is a policeman!”
When Sonya shouted back at the daughter of Nuezca that she does not care (if her father is a policeman), this drew the ire of the police sergeant and shot her in the head after uttering the words that he would finish her.
Nuzca also shot the younger Gregorio in the head and again pumped a bullet on Sonya who was already down on the pavement.
Nuezca reportedly fled after the incident using his motorcycle.
He then turned himself in at the Rosales Municipal Police Station in Pangasinan at 6:19 p.m., or a little over one hour after the shooting.
“The said suspect surrendered at their station (Rosales Municipal Police Station) with his issued firearm Beretta 9 mm with Serial Number M178132 which was used by the suspect in the commission of the crime,” a police report read.
De Leon said Nuezca had been turned over to the Paniqui police station and is now facing a case of two counts of murder.
The 46-year-old Nuezca was assigned to the PNP Crime Laboratory based in Parañaque City.
Based on the background check, Sinas said Nuezca was slapped with two separate cases of homicide last year, one was filed in May while the other one was in December.
“Both the two cases were dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence,” said Sinas.
Sinas said that of the five administrative cases filed against Nuezca, two led to his suspension, one for 31 days and another for an administrative case of less grave neglect of duty in 2014. The same cop was also suspended for 10 days in 2010 for another administrative cases.
Based on the same background check, it was Nuezca’s refusal to be subjected to a surprise drug test that led to his 31-day suspension in 2014.
Reportedly, Nuezca left the drug testing area before it was his turn to submit his urine sample.
In 2016, Nuezca was also slapped with an administrative case of Serious Neglect of Duty when he failed to attend a court hearing wherein he was a witness for the prosecution against a drug suspect. The case, however, was dropped.