A police officer in the Philippines was arrested and charged after he shot and killed a pair of his neighbors, a mother and son, which was captured on video camera and disseminated online. According to Bloomberg the shooting "renewed calls against police violence and extrajudicial killings" in the southeast Asian nation.
Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca turned himself in to authorities in the Tarlac province, and is facing double murder charges for the deaths of 52-year-old Sonya Gregorio, and her 25-year-old son Frank Anthony.
A video of the shooting had been making its way around social media, and was also pulled from YouTube due to its content.
A spokesman for president Rodrigo Duterte denounced the killings in a statement, and said that the officer will not get special treatment despite public perceptions (more on that in a second).
"We condemn what happened in Tarlac. That cop cannot invoke any defense that the killing is related to his duty,” said spokesman Harry Roque on Monday. “We will investigate, file charges, try and punish that policeman -- no ifs, no buts."
Duterte has been criticized due to the alleged impunity he's granted officers during the nation's aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs (though it should also be noted that he "remains popular in the country," according to the BBC). On that note, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson also issued a statement on Monday. In that statement he pinned the killings on "the context of an enabling environment for police violence that President Duterte himself has encouraged."
The description of the crime doesn't appear to make it anymore clear whether the murders were motivated by an alleged permissive environment, or just happened to be an insane argument between neighbors that spun out of control.
Note there's no reason it couldn't also be both.
The BBC, citing footage of the shooting, writes that Nuezca shot Ms. Gregario as she's on the ground. Nuezca was accompanied by his own young daughter at the time, and though he hasn't publicly commented on what happened a local police chief say he's confessed to the crimes.
The BBC further describes the chaos like so:
Initial media reports said a scuffle began after [Frank] set off an air cannon, made out of PVC pipe, which created a loud noise. A heated argument then ensued about the cannon and an ongoing land dispute between the two families.
As Ms Gregario wrapped her arms around her son to stop him being taken away, the video appears to show Mr Nuezca shooting her in the head, before doing the same to Frank.
Alyssa Calosing, who said she recorded the video, told DZMM that other witnesses said they saw Mr Nuezca beat Mr Gregario before she began filming.
She claimed that after shooting the pair at point blank range, Mr Nuezca took his daughter and "walked off like it was nothing."
The nation's chief of national police says Nuezca had faced five previous administrative charges, with two of those being for murder. Both of those were dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
A Human Rights Watch report that came out in 2019 estimates that roughly 5,000 drug users/dealers were killed between July 2016 and September 2018. In mid-2018 it was said that another 23,000 that took place during roughly the same time period were under investigation. The dates are relevant because Duterte was sworn in at the end of June 2016 after getting more than 39 percent of the vote and more than 6 million than the runner-up candidate. Upon being sworn in he vowed to, well, basically kill anyone involved in the country's illegal drug trade. Said war on drugs has prompted a probing from the International Criminal Court which, in turn, resulted in Duterte withdrawing the nation's participation in that court.