Abalos wants review of PNP procedures after Navotas teen’s slay
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said a reexamination of police operational procedures is in order after police officers shot and killed a teenager they thought was a murder suspect in Navotas.
Abalos’ vow to revisit and troubleshoot the flaws in police protocols follows his visit to the wake of 17-year-old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar on Thursday, as another senseless killing has shaken two lawmakers.
At the victim’s vigil, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief promised justice to the family of Baltazar, who was shot and killed by police on August 2.
“Magkakaroon kami ng meeting with the PNP leadership at pag-uusapan namin kung anong dapat gawin dito. We will revisit all of their modes of procedure at ‘yung tinatawag na command responsibility, kung up to what level [ang liability] para hindi na maulit ito,” Abalos said in a statement Friday.
(We will have a meeting with the PNP leadership, and we will discuss what should be done here. We will revisit their modes of procedure and command responsibility, if up to what level [is the liability] so that this does not happen again.)
“Nakakulong na ang mga pulis na sangkot at gumugulong na ang imbestigasyon. I am a father myself at alam ko ang sakit ng mawalan ng anak kaya pangako ko sa mga magulang at kaanak ng biktima, bibigyan natin ng hustisya ito,” he added.
(The police officers involved are in jail and the investigation is underway. I am a father myself and know the pain of losing a child, so I promise to the parents and relatives of the victim we will give justice to this.)
Criminal complaints of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and administrative complaints have already been filed against the six police officers relieved from their posts.
The case was seen as insignificant by critics, including Senator Risa Hontiveros, who condemned the killing of Baltazar and expressed suspicion why only the lighter case instead of, the more grave homicide.
Reckless imprudence resulting in homicide provides imprisonment of up to four years and two months, while homicide provides jail time of up to 20 years.
“While the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) immediate investigation and detention of the police officers involved in the killing of Jemboy is commendable, it is both alarming and suspicious as to why the officers were charged only with the lesser crime of ‘reckless imprudence resulting in homicide’ instead of the proper charge of ‘homicide,’” Hontiveros said in a Facebook post-Thursday.
Equally concerned is Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas. She called on the Commission of Human Rights to investigate the incident. She said the case is reminiscent of the death of Kian delos Santos in 2017.
“The killing of Jemboy Baltazar echoes the tragic death of Kian delos Santos in 2017, highlighting the disturbing trend of young lives lost to trigger-happy law enforcement actions, and indicative of a culture of impunity that persists and worsens during the Marcos Jr. administration’s tenure,” the resolution said.