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Rights groups condemn cops’ fatal shooting of minor due to ‘mistaken identity’

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Rights groups condemn cops� fatal shooting of minor due to �mistaken identity�
File photo of the members of the Philippine National Police.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED: Aug. 10, 2023; 9:53 a.m.) — Rights advocates have condemned the recent killing of a minor by Navotas cops, stressing that the incident follows the same pattern of indiscriminate shooting by police forces.

The Navotas police’s claim of killing 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar due to “mistaken identity” is also a “flimsy excuse,” according to rights group Karapatan, which stressed the need for all police personnel to exercise due diligence in going after suspects.

What the Navotas police allegedly did was “cold-blooded murder,” said a representative of Karapatan.

“They should in fact exercise due diligence in every police operation. It is far worse to hear that they continued shooting when the victims were already in submission,” Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

Karapatan also drew parallels to the cases of Kian delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and other individuals killed in the drug war launched by the Duterte administration and stressed that incidents continue to occur due to a perceived lack of respect for life and rights within the police force.

“The killings are clearly not over. And these killings continue because it remains part of the police's orientation and mindset to kill, kill, kill,” Palabay said.

Similarly, Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party) also condemned the shooting and highlighted the “culture of impunity” that persists within the country’s law enforcement agencies.

Navotas police officers reportedly shot Baltazar dead by mistake on August 2 when they fired at him when he leaped into the water, believing he was the suspect. Their real target was hiding in a boat with Baltazar.

Six police officers have been detained and charged over the incident, including the police officer who fired into the water in what he thought were just warning shots, according to Navotas City police chief Col. Allan Umipig.

Umipig has also acknowledged the police’s lapses in judgment in the operation.

The death of Baltazar underscores the need to address impunity and ensure that law enforcement agencies prioritize the protection of all citizens, particularly the youth, Brosas said.

“We will submit a House resolution to investigate the brutal actions of the Philippine National Police against the very citizens they are tasked to serve and protect," Brosas added.

Editor's Note: This has article has been changed to update the name of Karapatan spokesperson from Michelle Agcoalli to Cristina Palabay. We apologize for the error. 

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