Killer cop can’t invoke insanity — Palace

Published December 22, 2020, 2:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Police Senior Master Sgt. Joenel Nuezca, the cop who killed two persons in Tarlac, may not be able to use insanity as defense in his case since he probably knew it was wrong to use his service pistol for murder, Malacañang said Tuesday.

According to presidential spokesman Harry Roque, insanity plea could only be effectively invoked when a defendant is incapable of understanding what he is doing or determining right from wrong.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

“Pero pagdating naman dito, siya ay isang pulis. Siya isang sumusweldong pulis na nakita naman natin na ang kanilang pinag-aawayan ay right-of-way (But in this case, he is a policeman. He receives a salary as a cop and we have seen that they were fighting over right-of-way),” Roque said during a televised press briefing at the Palace.

“Siguro po alam naman niya na mali na gamitin ang baril ng gobyerno para patayin ang kalaban niya sa isang property dispute. Hindi niya magagamit na depensa (He probably knows it is wrong to use a government weapon to kill his enemy in a property dispute. He cannot use it as a defense),” he added.

On whether the cop can invoke insanity defense, Roque insisted: “Wala po (None).”

In a televised address Monday night, President Duterte denounced the cop for killing a mother and son in Tarlac over a heated argument, calling him “crazy” for committing such “brutal” crime. 

Duterte saw the viral video of the fatal shooting and admitted he was shocked by incident. He reminded the police to ensure the cop will remain locked up in jail.

Nuezca, assigned to the Paranaque City police Crime Laboratory, has been charged for killng his two neighbors during a heated argument in Paniqui  last Sunday.

The killing was caught on camera, triggering widespread outrage against police brutality.

Roque explained that when a defendant uses insanity plea, expert witnesses are often called to test such defense.

“‘Yung insanity na tinatawag na exempting circumstance o ‘yung depensa para hindi magkaroon ng pananagutan, dapat wala talagang consent. wala talagang pag-iisip na hindi na niya alam kung ano ang tama o mali. ‘Yun po ang test diyan (On insanity as exempting circumstance or defense to avoid liability, the person must have no consent, not in his right mind that he does not know right from wrong. That’s the test),” he said.

“Pero kung siya ay conscious kung ano tama o mali at ginawa pa rin niya, hindi pupuwedeng ma-invoke ‘yan (But if he is conscious about right from wrong and he still did it, he cannot invoke that),” he said.

He noted that psychiatrist are usually invited to examine the defendant’s state of mind.

“Of course any accused can invoke that pero kumukuha tayo ng expert witnesses, ng mga psychiatrists na nag-e-examine para mabigay ng expert testimony kung talaga ngang baliw at walang konsepto ng tama at mali (Of course, any accused can invoke that but we get expert witnesses, psychiatrists who examine and give expert testimony if the person is really insane and has no concept of right and wrong),” he added.