PNP: Teen who took killer cop video needs protection, too
PANIQUI, TARLAC — The chief of the Philippine National Police on Tuesday gave assurance of tight security for witnesses to the killing of a woman and her son here, while the secretary of home affairs asked Congress to impose the death penalty for heinous crimes committed by policemen.
Police Gen. Debold Sinas, who visited the wake of Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony at the family home in Barangay Cabayaoasan here, said witnesses, including a 16-year-old girl who took a video of the killings, would be recommended for admission into the government’s witness protection program.
Sinas said authorities were still trying to get a raw copy of the video that went viral on social media immediately after the killings on Sunday.
“We’ve talked to the girl who took the video and she’s a possible witness … We’re still getting the consent of her grandmother so our case will be stronger,” the PNP chief told reporters.
He said the girl and the other children who witnessed the killings would have to undergo counseling to help them recover from the trauma caused by witnessing the shooting.
“We’ve asked the help of Paniqui Mayor [Leonardo Roxas] to send municipal social workers to help the children who witnessed the killings,” Sinas said.
The family of the suspect, Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, will also be provided protection from harassment, he added.
Nuezca’s family has moved to another place, but “we also need to secure them because their situation is pitiful,” Sinas said.
Nuezca has been issued an order for automatic absence without leave so his salary can be cut while he is waiting for the dismissal proceedings.
“His dismissal is now being processed. He has undergone a paraffin test and we’re waiting for the results,” Sinas said. He noted that the slugs and casings recovered from the crime scene matched Nuezca’s 9mm M-92 service pistol.
Nuezca, 46, and the Gregorios are neighbors on a property at Barangay Cabayaoasan where they have a long-standing right-of-way dispute.
The dispute came to a head on Sunday afternoon after Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25, fired a “boga” (makeshift cannon), a banned New Year’s Eve noisemaker, prompting Nuezca to move in to arrest him.
But his mother Sonya, 52, came out of the family house and grabbed him to prevent Nuezca from dragging him away.
Just then, the policeman’s young daughter, who was on the scene, shouted at Sonya Gregorio: “My father is a policeman.”
“I don’t care,” Gregorio shouted back, incensing Nuezca, who whipped out his service firearm and shot the woman point-blank in the head.
Then he shot Frank Anthony twice and fired on the mother again before riding away with his daughter on a motorcycle.
Sorry for his crime
Nuezca at first went into hiding but later turned himself in to authorities.
Quoting investigators, Sinas said Nuezca surrendered because he was sorry for his crime. “He was remorseful, but it didn’t justify [what he had done]. He said he blacked out, and fled because he also felt pity for his family,” Sinas said.
Nuezca, who is in the custody of the Paniqui police, has been indicted for double murder (or two counts of murder).
“If Nuezca will confess to what really happened from his point of view that will help us understand [him]. After all, he was once a policeman so it will help us understand what happened,” Sinas said.
He added: “He surrendered, regretted it, and confessed … If he is willing to be interviewed again, [we’ll do it]. But if he doesn’t want to, we won’t insist. We still have strong evidence.”
The wake at the Gregorios’ residence in Paniqui has been secured by the police.
“You have nothing to worry about. The suspect has no siblings or relatives who are also policemen. For now, we will deploy some of our men here,” Sinas told Florentino Gregorio, the husband of Sonya and father of Frank.
Sinas also handed Florentino his calling card and envelopes containing money. “This is our assistance and not a payment. We already have strong evidence. We have witnesses,” he told Gregorio.
“What we really want is justice,” the 53-year-old widower replied.
In Manila, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who oversees the PNP, called on Congress to enact a law reimposing capital punishment for heinous crimes committed by policemen.
“[The] death penalty should be imposed on drug lords, drug syndicates, and [on] men in uniform who commit heinous crimes,” he said in a statement.
Later, in a radio interview, Año said crimes such as the Paniqui killings deserved “the highest punishment.”
“I am disappointed that these policemen who are supposed to uphold and implement the law are the ones involved in brutal crimes. If the death penalty is to be revived, we should include men in uniform,” he said.—WITH A REPORT FROM PATRICIA DENISE M. CHIU INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.