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Death penalty backed, bucked in wake of killings

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, former chief of the National Police, revived on Tuesday his push to reinstate death penalty in the Philippines after a policeman shot dead an unarmed mother and her son in Tarlac during an argument.

In a text message to reporters, Dela Rosa said the killing of Sonya Gregorio, 55, and her 25-year old son Frank Anthony Gregorio could have been deterred if a law reviving death penalty in the country had been passed.

 "That rouge cop deserves the death penalty," said the senator, referring to Senior Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca.

In a related development, Malacañang said it would let Congress decide on the fate of the proposed reinstatement of the death penalty in the country.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to restore the capital punishment in the Philippines but his plan would only be possible once he gets the support of lawmakers, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual Palace press briefing.

“The President’s stand is clear. He favors death penalty, especially for wide-scale drug trafficking. But that is still up to the lawmakers,” Roque said.

Public outcry for the reimposition of death penalty was revived after a video of a shooting incident in Tarlac involving a police officer went viral on social media.

Also in the Senate, Senator Imee Marcos said Nuezca was likely to have several protectors within and outside the police force, adding he “could even be a regular hitman.”

“Who are this guy’s sponsors? The guy is clearly inured to shooting people like target practice, using his service firearm,” Marcos noted.

Nuezca’s police record shows his involvement last year in two cases of homicide, both of which were either dropped or dismissed.

He was also suspended for refusing to take a drug test in 2014 but dodged a case of grave misconduct in 2013 and of serious neglect of duty in 2016 for failing to appear as a prosecution witness in a drug case.

“His immediate superiors must be automatically included in the investigation, according to R.A. 8551,” Marcos said, citing the law meant to reform and reorganize the PNP.

“Republic Act 8551 needs to be amended and strengthened. Clear lapses are being committed in the psychological and drug tests for police personnel, as well as the periodic review of their behavior,” Marcos explained.

Marcos said a strong padrino and frat system was defeating the PNP’s efforts since 2018 to prevent influence-peddling in police recruitment through the RONMEDDS (Robust, Neuro-Psychiatric, Medical and Dental System) program.

 The RONMEDDS program that bar-codes regional health service processes was put in place because the results of periodic psychological and drug tests were being bought or negotiated by political sponsors and classmates of police recruits and personnel, Marcos said.

Marcos also called on the PNP to “stop the proliferation of illegal firearms especially in the northern provinces.”

Senator Christopher Go, meanwhile, strongly condemned the Tarlac killings, saying he and President Duterte would provide any form of assistance needed with added on assurance that justice would be served.

In a related development, Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri said this Christmas, his simple wish was for the passage of their bill to establish Alcatraz-type prisons for heinous crimes. The other authors of the bill are Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Richard Gordon.

“A life in isolation is a fitting punishment to these murderers, drug lords, rapists and plunderers,” stressed Zubiri.

But in the House of Representatives, the Makabayan Bloc thumbed down the idea to reimpose death penalty in light of the Tarlac killing.

Topics: Ronald Dela Rosa , Rodrigo Duterte , Makabayan Bloc , Philippine National Police , Jonel Nuezca , Frank Anthony Gregorio , Sonya Gregorio
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