Cops should serve and protect, not violate rights — CHR
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has stressed that police officers should serve and protect instead of violating the people’s rights, amid the latest incident of a police officer killing a civilian in Quezon City.
This was CHR’s reminder to the Philippine National Police, as the commission also assured the public that they would conduct their own separate investigation of the incident involving Police Mst. Sgt. Hensie Zinampan and 52-year old Lilybeth Valdez.
Zinampan was caught on camera grabbing Valdez by the hair before shooting her at the neck. Valdez died from the incident, while Zinampan is now under the custody of the Quezon City Police District’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU).
“The [CHR] shall be conducting a motu propio investigation into the shooting of Lilibeth Valdez, who was shot by an allegedly drunk police officer in Barangay Greater Fairview, Quezon City on Monday night, 31 May 2021,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In a video circulating online, the police officer can be seen pulling the victim’s hair, eventually shooting her through the neck. This incident is gravely concerning as we expect our police to ‘serve and protect’, and not be at the frontlines of violating rights, let alone arbitrarily curtailing one’s right to life,” she added.
According to reports, Zinampan and the victim’s husband and son already had a prior discussion before the unfortunate incident. It appears that the officer was drunk when he pulled out his firearm at Valdez, who was just buying cigarettes from a nearby sari-sari store.
Zinampan earned the ire of newly-installed PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who has made the internal cleansing program of the police force as his primary program. The police head said that the erring cop would face murder and administrative raps, and would be dismissed from service.
CHR said that they welcome the pronouncements from Eleazar, but noted that one death is too many — especially since this is not the first time police officers were caught on video shooting ordinary civilians.
In December last year, Parañaque cop Jonel Nuezca shot dead two of his neighbors in Paniqui, Tarlac, after an apparent spat between the two parties. Nuezca pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
“We note the directive of the Chief of the Philippine National Police to the Quezon City Police District to file murder and administrative cases against Zinampan,” De Guia said.
“At the same time, after a string of recent deaths and killings being attributed to police officers, we urge the PNP to translate commitments of internal cleansing into an actual reduction of cases of human rights violations on the ground. One death is one too many. We urge the government to address these violations with the larger view that the protection of human rights is primarily a State obligation,” she added.
Zinampan’s killing of Valdez came after President Rodrigo Duterte assured that drug war casualties really tried to fight it out with police officers who are “trained-to-kill.” He however assured in the same briefing that he will not condone law enforcers who shoot people without firearms and those who are already surrendering.
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