The murders of Sonya and Frank Gregorio at the hands of Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca have been making waves as of late.
The public is rightfully outraged—to say the very least—demanding justice on behalf of the slain unarmed civilians . But what did the Philippine National Police (PNP) say? That it’s an “isolated incident” that won’t “trigger reforms in the PNP” because they have “done enough of the heroic acts.”
Let’s take a look at that then, shall we?
What the PNP is saying
In response to the cold-blooded murder of the Gregorios, PNP interior secretary Eduardo Año said, “While there are unfortunate incidents like this, the vast majority of our PNP personnel perform their sworn duties everyday with honor and integrity to protect and serve the people.”
He continued, “The sin of Nuezca is not the sin of the entire Philippine National Police. As we have seen during this pandemic, they place their very lives on the line as frontliners in our COVID response.”
The PNP’s spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana echoed this statement in a recent interview and even added that this crime won’t spark any institutional reforms because they’ve basically done enough and no change is needed.
“In so far as the PNP that has been there for more than 100 years since the start of the police service organization, we have [done] enough of the heroic acts,” he said.
“I guess what Nuezca did is something that will not even trigger any change at all in the PNP because we have had many changes that have already been initiated, and this particular case actually will not make the PNP as if we are totally wrong because as I was saying, this is an isolated case,” he added.
Our favorite mañanita man and PNP chief of police Debold Sinas also chimed in. “First when I saw the video, [I was] of course angry and saddened that our policeman has committed such [a] crime,” he said.
“The PNP considers this an isolated act of criminality that does not reflect the PNP’s policies and practice,” said Sinas in a statement.
But just how “isolated” is this incident?
Not isolated at all
In response to PNP’s uniform claim of an “isolated” incident, a local activist collective has released a list of over 50 incidents related to PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) abuses spanning the last few years.
These reports have been collected from both major local and international news outlets.
And while not all the incidents listed relate to murder, there’s a common denominator: impunity.
PNP doesn’t need a reform, it needs a massive overhaul
There is a grain of truth in Sec. Año’s and the rest of the PNP’s message that reform within the PNP is unnecessary, though.
The PNP doesn’t need reform.
It needs a major overhaul from the ground up.
In a statement, Sen. Nancy Binay said “Buong taon may nakakahiyang headline tungkol sa pulis. Ano na ba ang ginagawa ng liderato tungkol dito? The people expect the police to be their defenders, not their offenders.”
“Something is deeply wrong when you have both top cops and rank-and-file who flout the law,” she added.
Sec. Año claims that the sins of one cop shouldn’t affect the entire organization, but Nuezca wasn’t acting out of character for the PNP. His actions clearly reflect the culture of indifference, impunity and greed imbibed by the entire organization.
We’ve all known what the police are capable of. As children, many of us were threatened with the police if we acted out.
The PNP has thrived on a cowboy-style “shoot first, ask questions later” way of life. In most cases, it would be a stroke of extreme luck if questions were even asked.
Keep in mind though, this is not our country’s moment of reckoning.
Our moment of reckoning happened in 2016 when a self-professed murderer ascended to the highest office of the land.
Our moment of reckoning happened again in 2018 when Kian delos Santos was shot in cold blood by those who swore “to protect and serve” us.
Our moment of reckoning again came earlier this year when our farmers, jeepney drivers and frontliners had to beg for proper treatment from the government just so that they could feed themselves and their families, but were instead arrested by the police.
This is not our moment of reckoning.
This is the time for action.
The question is, can we wait until 2022?