A trial court in Tarlac on Thursday convicted the police officer who brutally shot his two neighbors in December last year.
Police Staff Sergeant Jonel Nuezca was sentenced by the Paniqui Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 106 to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment for the murder of Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio. The brutal murders were caught on video and caused public outrage.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Nuezca’s case and that of another dismissed cop, Hensie Zinampan, who 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 court also ordered Nuezca to pay the family of the murdered P952,560 in damages.
RTC Judge Stella Marie Gandia-Asuncion said in her 18-page decision that: “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 video of the murder showed an enraged Nuezca arguing with his neighbors, and his daughter saying “my father is a policeman,” to which Sonya replied that she does not care. Nuezca eventually shot Sonya and then Frank Anthony twice, and then Sonya who was sprawled on the ground.
“The attack made by the accused was 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 it treacherous,” Gandia-Asuncion wrote.
Before Nuezca committed the murders in Tarlac, he faced homicide raps, six cases of grave misconduct, and robbery and extortion charges.