Tarlac killings point to ‘ingrained impunity’ in Philippines, says bishop

December 23, 2020 - 11:13 AM
The grandmother of slain Frank Anthony Gregorio looks at his coffin during the wake of mother and son Sonya Gregorio, 52, and Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, who were shot by an off-duty police officer following a confrontation in front of their house in Paniqui, Tarlac province, Philippines, December 22, 2020. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The police killing of a mother and her son in Tarlac demonstrated how ingrained impunity has become in Philippine society, a Catholic bishop said.

Bishop Enrique Macaraeg of Tarlac said the recent incident is only one of the many killings that “have been happening around us”.

“Some of them happened without a video to record them,” he said. “Whether posted on social media or done hidden without a witness, killing is a sin.”

The bishop was reacting to the double murder case involving 46-year-old police officer Jonel Nuezca.

Nuezca shot dead 52-year old Sonya Gregorio and her son, 25-year old Frank Anthony, on Sunday.

READ: ‘How many were not filmed?’: Calls to end police brutality renewed after cop killed mother and son in Tarlac

“The suspect was a man tasked to stop killings. Impunity has become ingrained as we saw the daughter, having taunted the mother and son, walking away unaffected by the murder,” Macaraeg said.

Authorities said the incident was spurred by a confrontation over the firing of a “boga”, an improvised cannon usually used to make noise during New Year celebrations.

They said both parties have long had disputes over right of way, which also surfaced during their argument.

Deploring the incident, the bishop said that murder is not only a sin against the victims and their families. “It is both a sin and a crime that cries out to heaven,” he said.

“Our faith assures us that this cry will reach the ears of God. There is no escaping from the justice of God, even if sometimes justice on earth is hard to find,” Maracaeg warned.

“That this murder happened during these holy days preparing for Christmas makes us bow in shame, guilt, and shock,” he added.

The Catholic Church’s social action and justice arm also joined in condemning the incident saying killings ‘have no place in our society’.

Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, national director of Caritas Philippines, said that the killings were unacceptable, especially given the circumstances surrounding it.

“This bloodshed in broad daylight, witnessed by family members, should not have happened in the first place had we let peaceful reconciliation, not hot-tempered emotion prevail,” Bagaforo said.

“Hence our strong condemnation of such an abhorrent act, which should have no place in our society,” he said.

Macaraeg has asked Caritas Tarlac to be at the service of the family of the victims and provide them any possible assistance.

The church leaders also offered their prayers for the victims and asked for speedy resolution of the case.