‘Stop the killings!’: Calls for justice mount for teenage slain in Navotas

August 9, 2023 - 4:58 PM
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Photo shows police officers (The Philippine STAR/Edd Gumban)

Calls for accountability and reform were made online after Navotas cops shot a 17-year-old boy by mistake in an operation.

Six police officers from the Navotas City Police Station were reportedly detained and charged on August 8 for the incident. The shooting, meanwhile, took place last week on August 2.

Navotas City Police Chief Col. Allan Umipig said that the police officers involved were responding to a tip that informed them about the alleged suspects.

The alleged suspects were the victim identified as Jemboy Baltazar and another teenager.

According to Umipig, one of his men fired at them as supposed “warning shots” only.

It was a different story, however, according to Baltazar’s friend.

In a report by “Saksi” on August 8, the victim’s friend said that they were preparing their boat at noon on that day when one Navotas police officer came to them.

They reportedly surrendered after they were ordered to get off the boat.

Local authorities, however, allegedly proceeded on shooting at them.

Baltazar dove into the water after, according to the report. It was at this point that they targeted him and fired at him.

The boy got hit multiple times, thus leading to his death.

The Navotas Police later admitted that the six policemen involved exhibited “lapses” in their judgment.

They also reportedly surrendered their firearms.

A homicide complaint was also filed against the six cops in the operation in question.

Outrage on social media

The accidental killing of a boy triggered public outrage on social media.

Several Filipinos used the hashtag #StoptheKillings to denounce law enforcers’ error that led to the tragedy.

This hashtag was previously used in the campaign to stop the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines.

“Another life lost. Another life wasted. Poor people are the ones that are taking the toll of the incompetence of Law Enforcement Officials. Another case of ‘MISTAKEN IDENTITY’. When will the killings stop? Literal na bulok pa rin ang sistema,” an online user said.

“What happened na sa to serve and to protect the Filipinos?” another Filipino posted.

Some Filipinos on Reddit also questioned why the local officers fired at the boys first without confronting them.

“What happened to probable cause and reasonable suspicion? Bakit baril agad?” a Redditor said.

“Another shoot-first ask-questions-later scenario. Tapos pag mahirap ang pamilya ng biktima, dadaanin na naman sa areglo. Ilang libo kapalit ng buhay. Ung mga kawatang pulis, malamang ma-reassign sa ibang presinto para magpalamig muna,” another Redditor said.

Several Filipinos called for a massive reform in the country’s law enforcement.

“Hindi sapat na ikulong at kasuhan ang mga salarin. Mauulit pa ito sa ibang lugar, sa ibang inosente. Bulok na bulok na ang PNP (Philippine National Police). Dapat nang baguhin,” Gene Nisperos, a professor at the University of the Philippines-Manila said on X (formerly Twitter).

Some social media users, meanwhile, saw the situation as the consequence of some local officers’ being trigger-happy.

“This is what happens when psychological screening/evaluation is not prioritized for our police force. It should be an ongoing thing even for veterans. Kaya madaming trigger-happy,” a Redditor said. 

Trigger happy refers to the inclination “to shoot before clearly identifying the target.”