2020 Tarlac shooting remembered as PNP skips gun muzzling during Holidays

December 15, 2022 - 2:12 PM
PNP in formation
Members of the Philippine National Police in formation. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

The case of late Jonel Nuezca was brought up on social media after the Philippine National Police said that it will not implement gun muzzling among its members during the Holiday season.

The PNP leadership expressed confidence that the police will be disciplined enough to refrain from using their firearms during revelries.

“Every policeman, including all of the armed services, should be responsible enough not to use their firearms because that is very dangerous,” PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. told reporters on Tuesday.

He also warned the members that there would be no mercy for those who would be caught indiscriminately firing their guns. Immediate supervisors of would-be erring police officers will also be held accountable.

It was in 2016 when the PNP stopped its tradition of muzzling firearms during the Holiday season under the directive of then-PNP chief Bato dela Rosa.

Reports said it was the first time in a decade that it was halted.

Dela Rosa previously said they will not require the police to tape and countersign their firearms “to show the people that the PNP is a disciplined and trusted organization,” according to then-PNP director of operations, chief superintendent Camilo Cascolan.

Taping the muzzles of firearms is practiced to prevent indiscriminate firing and discourage celebratory gunfire, especially during the Holidays.

While Azurin assured the public that the police are responsible enough in using their firearms, his words did not sit well with citizens who remembered how a former cop used a gun to kill his neighbors in December 2020.

“Remember Nuezca? Hmmm, hindi nga ‘no? Sobrang wala [nang] pag asa ang AFP-PNP, anlala, hahaha ganun sila ka-inutil talaga,” a Twitter user commented in response to the PNP chief’s comments to gun muzzling.

“I mean, it didn’t stop Nuezca, so what’s the point naman talaga ‘no?” another online user wrote.

The case of Nuezca 

On Dec. 20, 2020, then-policeman Nuezca shot 52-year-old Sonia Gregorio and her son, 25-year-old Frank Gregorio, at point-blank range in Tarlac during an altercation over the latters’ use of boga or noisemakers.

Nuezca confronted the Gregorios and confiscated the noisemaker, according to a video.

He was also heard saying, “P**ang ina mo, gusto mo tapusin na kita ngayon?”

Nuezca then brought out his firearm and then shot the two in broad daylight. His young daughter and other onlookers were able to witness it.

He was dismissed from the police force a month after. Nuezca was also barred from holding any government posts.

By August 2021, eight months after the incident, he was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

Nuezca was also ordered to pay the heirs of Sonia the following: P100,000 for civil indemnity, P100,000 for exemplary damages, P126,280 as actual damages and P50,000 as temperate damages with interest rate of 6% per annum until the finality of decision until paid.

He was similarly ordered to pay the same amount to Frank’s heirs.

The incident sparked concerns about police brutality and how many of such incidents could have happened without being filmed.

Nuezca died inside the New Bilibid Prison in November 2021.

According to the Bureau of Corrections, he died of a heart attack and said it was of “natural causes.”