United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Philippines urged the public to stop bullying the daughter of the cop involved in the fatal shooting incident in Paniqui, Tarlac.
Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca made headlines locally and overseas last Monday, December 21 after a footage of him killing two unarmed civilians 52-year-old Sonya Gregorio and her son, Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, circulated across social media.
Nuezca surrendered at the Rosales Municipal Police Station on Sunday. He was charged with double murder and is currently detained.
Aside from police officer, the video clip also showed his 13-year-old daughter at the scene.
She could be heard saying: “My father is a policeman!”
Nuezca’s daughter’s remarks and presence at the scene drew backlash on social media wherein her photos were converted into memes and artworks to bully her.
‘Child is also a victim’
In a statement on Tuesday, UNICEF Philippines discouraged Filipinos from circulating the child’s photos to protect her from further verbal abuse.
UNICEF noted that the she is also a victim.
“UNICEF is deeply concerned for the well-being of this child whose photos are being circulated on social media platforms where she has been repeatedly vilified and verbally abused. Children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence, including bullying,” the organization said.
“The child is also a victim in this situation. We appeal to the public to refrain from using violent language and posting her photos and personal information. This only causes additional harm, trauma, and stigma to the child,” it added.
The international organization likewise joined calls for justice for the Gregorio family.
UNICEF urged the country’s social welfare department to help all children who witnessed the shooting, not just Nuezca’s daughter, and provide them necessary child protection services and psychosocial support.
It also asked the national government and the Philippine National Police to implement the PNP Child Protection policy for these children.
This policy “reinforces zero-tolerance for any act of violence against children and aims to ensure special protection of children from all forms of abuse and exploitation by providing policies and guidelines to be followed by all PNP personnel.”
Florentino Gregorio, the bereaved widower and father, likewise asked the public to stop condemning Nuezca’s daughter.
He noted the child’s upbringing led her to think that her father is right for killing people.
“Kasi ‘pag maganda ang pagpapalaki diyan sa batang ‘yan, ‘di ganun mangyayari sa batang ‘yun. Sigurado may takot din siya sa pagputok ng baril na ‘yun, siguro umiyak yun, tumakbo din siya. (Kaso) hindi, e. Nakita niya na parang tama ang ginawa ng ama niya,” he said in an interview with TV 5.
“‘Yun ang mali sa magulang, na parang lahat ng kamalian itinatama niya sa anak niya,” he added.
Nuezca’s daughter and her mother have reportedly exhibited signs of trauma and are undergoing assessment from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Support for minors on the victim’s side
Amid the widespread condemnation against cases of police brutality in the country, a debate on Nuezca’s daughter’s liability for the crime was also discussed online.
Some users argued that the suspect’s daughter should be imprisoned once she reaches legal age.
“Ikulong pag nasa legal age na. Yes, she might have been a victim ng poor upbringing. But punishing her, is more of a punishment sa parents nya especially sa father. It’s part of the consequences that they should face for not raising her well,” a user said.
Others criticized the DSWD for supposedly prioritizing Nuezca’s family over the victims.
“Sila pa na trauma? At bakit sila pa inuna ng DSWD? Paano yung mga nakasaksi sa side ng victims??? At yung mismong family ng victims?” one user said.
“What about the kid relatives of the victims? Sa video you can clearly hear a kid crying in the background,” another wrote.
Meanwhile, UNICEF encouraged those who were traumatized from watching the gruesome video to seek mental health support at the following crisis hotlines: