Philippine Cop Gets Life Sentence for Killing Neighbors During Argument

Jojo Riñoza
Dagupan, Philippines
Philippine Cop Gets Life Sentence for Killing Neighbors During Argument Relatives of Sonia and Frank Anthony, a mother and son who were shot dead by an off-duty policeman, bid goodbye to them at their funeral in Paniqui, Philippines, Dec. 20, 2020.

A Philippine court sentenced a police officer to life in prison on Thursday for shooting dead two neighbors during a heated argument last December.

The double-homicide put a spotlight back on extrajudicial deaths in the Philippines, where human rights groups have criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s government for thousands of killings by police in the nation’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

The Tarlac Regional Trial Court convicted the defendant, Jonel Nuezca, of two counts of murder for killing Sonia Gregoria, 52, and her son, Frank Anthony, 25. The incident shocked Filipinos after a video of the brazen shooting went viral on social media. Nuezca was off duty when he gunned down his two neighbors during the daytime.

“[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 public peace is never predicated on the cost of human life,” Judge Stella Marie Gandia-Asuncion said in her 18-page decision.

“[J]udgment is hereby rendered finding the accused Jonel Nuezca y Mostales guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder (two counts).”

The court also ordered Nuezca to pay nearly a million Philippines pesos (U.S. $20,000) to the heirs of the victims.

The judge noted that the victims did not know “during the span of commotion and altercation that the accused [had] a gun.”

The attack was “so swift and sudden that the victims were not able to defend themselves. The shots fired were made in quick succession,” Gandia-Asuncion said in the ruling.

Nuezca shot the mother and son dead after a heated argument with them on Dec. 20 in Paniqui, a town in northern Tarlac province, according to details provided in court.

The officer had confronted the duo about their use of the “boga” – a PVC pipe that is typically used to make a loud noise during the Christmas holidays here, police said.

The conversation turned into an argument over a long simmering property dispute. Nuezca’s young daughter could also be heard shouting at their neighbors.

Nuezca drew his handgun – a 9-mm Beretta pistol – and shot mother and son in the head, the police said.

He walked away from the crime scene but surrendered to the authorities later in the day.

The crime was filmed on a mobile phone and later uploaded on Facebook by a witness.

In June, a Filipino police officer in plain clothes was filmed shooting a 52-year-old woman in the head over an argument. That officer has been fired and is in jail.

And in November 2018, three policemen were convicted for the murder of a 17-year-old boy incorrectly identified as a drug pusher.

The Philippines has seen its share of near-daily killings tied to the Duterte administration’s violent drug war. Police figures put the number of suspected dealer and addicts slain at 8,000 so far.

Rights groups claim that hundreds more have been killed, including those slain by pro-government vigilantes.

For his part, Duterte has vowed to continue with his war on narcotics despite the wrongful deaths. He has said these killings could have been carried out by rival drug gangs who want to make it appear that vigilantes were to blame.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City, Philippines, contributed to this report.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.


Jake g ronquillo
Sep 16, 2021 09:36 AM

Dapat lng maubos drug pusher especially the big one un ginawa ni marcos n firing squad sa bigtime pusher n intsik

Susan Espinosa
Sep 20, 2021 03:51 AM

Good for him.

Sep 23, 2021 08:13 AM

"Never has homicide or murder been a function of law enforcement." Justice is served... This simply shows that no one is above the law.

Oct 12, 2021 03:40 AM

Tama sana ibalik ang firing squad via television para ipakaita sa mga hayup na yan na d lahat nadadaan sa pera at impluwensiya...kita mo c ninoy nag pa baril ng sarili akala nya kc d sya mamatay akala nya daplus lang malas nya tinuluyan sya but it makes him a hero kuno..

Nov 03, 2021 06:52 AM

Is this news or a column? Look at the second paragraph. The case has nothing to do with the war on drugs but the slant is obvious.
No to shit writing please. If it's a news, just bring it straight.