Home News Rights group decries ‘lighter penalties’ vs Philippine cops involved in killing 17-year-old...

Rights group decries ‘lighter penalties’ vs Philippine cops involved in killing 17-year-old minor

An alliance of human rights organizations and advocates called for the “reversal” of the Navotas Regional Trial Court’s ruling, seeking a heavier penalty, in the case involving the police killing of Jerhode “Jemboy” Baltazar.

“This lamentable outcome on Jemboy’s case shows how the Philippine justice system continues to fail the victims of police killings and brutality in the country in pursuing full accountability of perpetrators,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

On Feb. 27, the court convicted a police officer, one of six who had been dismissed, of homicide for the killing of 17-year-old Baltazar in an assumed case of mistaken identity. 

In a 44-page decision, Judge Pedro Dabu Jr. of the Navotas Regional Trial Court ruled that Staff Sgt. Gerry Maliban was guilty of homicide, sentencing him to a jail term of four years. 

Maliban had previously confessed to shooting the teenager during a Senate inquiry into the incident.

Baltazar died after the police opened fire while he was removing accumulated water in his boat on August 2.

The court found Executive Master Sgt. Roberto Balais Jr., Staff Sgt. Nikko Esquillon, Cpl. Edward Blanco, and Pat. Benedict Mangada guilty of the illegal discharge of firearms.

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A lone accused, Staff Sgt. Antonio Bugayong, was acquitted. The six police officers were dismissed from the service in September last year.

Palabay claimed the killings under the war on drugs campaign of former President Rodrigo Duterte “continue” in the Marcos Jr. administration “because of the prevalent climate of impunity”. 

During the funeral mass for Baltazar in August last year, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan reminded police officers that they “are not the law”. 

He said, “You are mere enforcers of the law. You were not ordered, given uniforms, armed, and being paid from the country’s taxes just to kill people.” – with reports from the Philippine News Agency

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