NUPL: Death of Navotas teen should be prosecuted as intentional criminal act

NUPL: Death of Navotas teen should be prosecuted as intentional criminal act
People pay respects to 17-year old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar in his wake in Navotas City on August 11, 2023.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The fatal shooting of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar is not merely an accident, but an intentional criminal act that must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, a group of lawyers said Sunday.

Baltazar was killed by Navotas City cops pursuing a suspect in a shooting incident on August 2 in what the Philippine National Police described as a case of mistaken identity. 

But the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers-National Capital Region chapter said the police operatives acted with intent to kill. The PNP Police Operational Procedure states that the use of a lethal approach is a last resort.

“We refuse to accept and normalize death as a result of a regular police operation. There should be no presumption of regularity when death results from it,” NUPL-NCR said. 

“Enough facts exist to support an indictment for murder, not mere reckless imprudence resulting in homicide,” it added. 

Six Navotas cops—who are still unidentified—are facing a complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, while 27 police were relieved from their posts. Interior and Local Government chief Benhur Abalos also ordered the PNP to review its operational procedures following the killing of Baltazar.

NUPL-NCR stressed that relief, reassignment or retraining are not sufficient as disciplinary actions “for erring policemen responsible for the death of persons that they are supposed to be protecting and serving.”

“We demand that the PNP ensures transparency and fairness in investigating the incident, as a foil against whitewashing and impunity,” NUPL-NCR said. “We likewise dare the police leadership to extend to ordinary citizens the same sudden zealousness to protect the due process rights of their erring personnel.”

In a statement Friday, the Commission on Human Rights said it hopes the PNP will continue to live up to its motto “to serve and protect” as a duty-bearer for the rights of people. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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