Thursday, September 23, 2021

Mother and son shot dead by off-duty cop in row over noise in Philippines

The murders have sparked accusations that Duterte’s war on drugs has created a culture of police impunity.

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The family of a woman and her son shot dead by an off-duty policeman in the Philippines called for justice on Tuesday at their funeral.

Video of the incident in Tarlac province, north of Manila, went viral on social media, causing widespread outrage.

Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her 25-year-old son Frank Gregorio, were each shot in the head on Sunday after a row over noise, sparking accusations that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has created a culture of police impunity.

In the video, recorded on a family member’s mobile phone, policeman Jonel Nuezca can be seen arguing heatedly with the Gregorios over the use of a homemade cannon. These devices make a loud boom and are used to celebrate New Year.

As the row intensified, Sonya wrapped her arms around her son, and Nuezca shot her in the head before doing the same to Frank. Before fleeing, the cop shot them both again.

He surrendered to police that night and faces two counts of murder. The government has promised a thorough investigation.

“I lost a mother who was the most loving mother to us. I lost a brother who was also a very loving and caring brother. It’s very hard for us,” said Tasha Delos Santos. “I hope our family gets justice.”

“They weren’t criminals, they were the nicest family here,” said neighbour Gonyong Liwanag.

Critics and rights groups say Duterte’s talk of killing criminals and promises to protect law enforcement have emboldened police to commit and cover up murder. Police deny that.

Duterte on Monday condemned the Tarlac shooting and said he only defends police who do their duty, warning “there will be a hell to pay” for rogue officers.

Government data show that nearly 6,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed by police since 2016.

Rights group say that number is an underestimate and accuse police of summarily executing users and pushers.

Police insist all those killed had resisted arrest.

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