The hashtag “#PulisAngTerorista” landed on local Twitter’s trending list on Tuesday morning after Filipino online users learned another incident of police brutality when an officer used his service weapon to take a grandmother’s life on Monday night.
Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan was arrested by his fellow uniformed personnel for shooting 52-year-old Lilibeth Valdez in Barangay Greater Fairview in Quezon City.
It was reported that he took her by the hair before shooting her.
A video of the incident, which was taken by the victim’s grandson, was posted by Jervis Manahan of ABS-CBN News wherein children’s cries could be heard after the gunshot.
Zinampan was not on duty when he killed Valdez. He was also reported to be drunk when it happened.
According to Beverly Luceño, the victim’s daughter, Zinampan had also been in a fistfight with her brother on May 1. Both of them were drunk at that time.
Valdez had also been previously threatened by the police officer.
Zinampan was turned over to the Quezon City Police District and will face a murder complaint, according to Police General Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the national police.
An administrative case will also be charged against him to remove him from the police force.
Zinampan was assigned to the Police Security and Protection Group.
The incident prompted Filipinos to revive the hashtag “#PulisAngTerorista” (police are the terrorists) on local Twitter as they cry for accountability and recall other similar incidents involving law enforcers who are supposed to protect people.
“When unspeakably evil things happen just 5 months apart, both caught on camera, that isn’t coincidence. That is a pattern. #PULISANGTERORISTA,” a Twitter user wrote, accompanying his post with a screengrab of a news report about a cop killing a mother and son in Tarlac.
Killings involving police officers
On the month of Christmas last year, an officer identified as Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca shot 52-year-old Sonya Gregorio and her son, 25-year-old Frank Gregorio, over an altercation regarding the use of “boga,” an improvised noisemaker.
It was eventually discovered that Nuezca has faced grave misconduct cases in May and December 2019 for homicide but both were dismissed due to lack of substantial evidence.
The incident prompted calls for police institution reform. However, police and government leadership referred to the killing as an “isolated case.”
“Another one shot by the police?? GDI (god d*mn it), wasn’t it just weeks ago a child with autism was shot? Saying he tried to get the gun from the police?… #PULISANGTERORISTA,” another Twitter user said, referring to the incident in Valenzuela last month.
Edwin Arnigo, 18, who was diagnosed with intellectual disability as a comorbidity to his autism spectrum disorder, was shot dead when police raided an illegal cockfighting game on May 23.
Police accounts claim that he attempted to take a police officer’s weapon but a key witness said that it was “accidental” since “he saw the reaction of the officer after the shooting,” according to Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian.
Arnigo’s death was condemned by the Autism Strong Philippines group which said that there is a “critical gap” between law enforcement officers and those with autism.
Eleazar cautioned the public from drawing conclusions and instead wait for the findings of the investigations being conducted.
“Don’t flout the reality that police brutality in the time of Duterte is not an isolated case but a f**king pattern. We wake up to Lilybeth Valdez & think of Kian delos Santos and & Tarlac shooting last year & the activists we lost & this goes on #PULISANGTERORISTA,” another online user wrote in response to Valdez’s case.
Kian Delos Santos, a 17-year-old student, was a victim of a “one-time big-time” police raid against illegal drugs in Caloocan in 2017. Police accounts claim he shot them and resisted arrest but a CCTV footage showed that he was carried away by the cops and then shot dead.
A year later, police officers involved in the shooting were found guilty of murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetual “without eligibility of parole.”
Duterte on killings during operations
In a national address aired Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte addressed human rights group and critics of the administration, saying they should not be surprised if drug suspects ended up dead during operations.
He alleged that drug suspects fight back during operations.
“So iyan ang tandaan ninyo. It’s not pinatay namin ‘yong lahat ng mga masasamang tao. Eh ‘yong mabubuting tao, ‘yong mga sundalo ko nagtatrabaho lang, pulis, patay rin ‘yan sila—and in numbers. Mabuti lang ‘yon kasi trained itong pulis pati military, ipalaban mo diyan sa mga NPA na ano man ‘yan, walang training ‘yan kung hindi ambush pati—karamihan sa kanila car bomb, binobomba nila pagdaan ng ano. Diyan sila mahusay,” Duterte said.
“Pero kung sabihin mo na magtaka ka kung bakit maraming patay sa kanila, eh talaga eh itong pulis ko pati army ko they are trained to kill. Anong purpose pala nila pagkasundalo pati pulis? Among other duties, sa pulis marami. They have to deal with the civilian population. Ang military talagang hinahanap lang ‘yan panghuli o pampatay. Huwag na tayong magbolahan dito. They are trained to be soldiers and they are notthey are not allowed to kill a man kneeling down o nakatalikod. Bawal talaga ‘yan at ako mismo sinasabi ko bawal,” he added.
Duterte advised the rights groups to instead look into the record of deaths, saying the authorities are not hiding facts when it comes to the killing of drug suspects.
“So be careful in your—especially the Human Rights—be careful in your evaluation and assessment because hindi lang ang gobyerno marunong pumatay. Iyong mga NPA pati ‘yong mga drug lords marunong pumatay ‘yan. Iyan ang problema diyan,” the president said.
He stressed that police offers are “agents of person in authority.”