MANILA – The Parañaque policeman who was caught on video when he shot dead an unarmed mother and her son pointblank during a heated argument in Paniqui, Tarlac in December 2020 was found guilty for two counts of murder.
In the 18-page decision on Thursday by Judge Stela Marie Gandia-Asuncion of the Tarlac Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 106, dismissed M/Sgt. Jonel Nuezca, 46, was sentenced to two reclusion perpetua (20 years and 1 day to 40 years) for killing Sonia Gregorio, 52, and her son, Frank Anthony, 25, five days before Christmas.
Nuezca, who was off-duty that time, confronted the Gregorios over the use of a "boga", a homemade cannon that uses kerosene.
The viral video was taken by a granddaughter of the elder Gregorio using a mobile phone, from the start of the argument until Nuezca pulled out his handgun and killed the two.
The Tarlac RTC also sentenced Nuezca to pay PHP476,000 to each of the victim’s heirs for damages.
“(A) shoot first, think later disposition occupies no decent place in a civilized society. Never has homicide or murder been a function of law enforcement. The public peace is never predicated on the cost of human life,” the court decision read.
The court also said there was treachery due to the sudden violence employed.
“The attack made by the accused is so swift and sudden that the victims were not able to defend themselves. The shots fired were made in quick succession. Hence, the attack made is treacherous. The attack came unexpected at a time where the accused is holding the shorts of the victim Frank Anthony and while victim Sonia is embracing Frank Anthony. The victims are unsuspecting and never knew during the span of commotion and altercation that the accused has a gun,” the court ruled.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra lauded the judge for the quick resolution.
"We commend the prosecution and the honorable judge for the speedy disposition of this case. It shows that if we all put our hearts into it, we can really make the administration of justice a little more efficient," Guevarra said in a statement sent to reporters.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Nuezca’s case and that of another dismissed cop, Hensie Zinampan, who similarly killed his neighbor in Quezon City on May 31, will serve as a lesson and reminder that police officers are protectors of the people, not tormentors.
“Justice is finally served with the conviction of former police sergeant Jonel Nuezca,” Eleazar said in a statement. “It showed that justice was served and we do not tolerate such acts.”
The case of Zinampan, who was reportedly drunk when he gunned down Lilybeth Valdez, also 52, is already undergoing trial.
Brig. General Valeriano De Leon, Police Regional Office 3 Director, said the law does not exempt anyone, regardless of status.
"This development goes to show there is equal justice for everyone and that the PNP does not condone any infraction or wrongdoing committed by its members,” he said in a statement.