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Youth group in Mindanao lights candle to protest police killing of mother, son

Activists said the incident was not an isolated case, citing the spate of drug-related killings in the country in the past four years

Youth activists in the southern Philippine city of Cagayan de Oro held a candle-lit demonstration to show their indignation over the killing of a woman and her son by a police officer early this week.

“We firmly stand in solidarity with the bereaved family and continue to hold [police master sergeant Jonel Nuezca] accountable,” said Xymon Rosales, spokesperson of Akbayan Youth.

He said the incident proves that the country’s security personnel are “perpetrators of senseless killings.”

“We cannot put our confidence in our state forces if what they have done since is to kill ordinary Filipinos using the same guns funded by the Filipino people’s taxes,” said Rosales.

“We refuse to believe that this is an isolated case because of the killings that happened for the past four years,” he said referring the spate of drug-related killings in the country.

In Manila, the University of Santo Tomas’ Santisimo Rosario Parish launched a prayer brigade for Sonia Gregorio, 52, and her son, Frank, 25, the mother and son who were shot dead on Dec. 20.

The parish also joined calls for justice for the victims.

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President Rodrigo Duterte has condemned the killing and said he only defends police who do their duty, warning “there will be a hell to pay” for rogue officers.

In a video recorded on a family member’s mobile phone, Nuezca was seen engaging in a heated argument with the Gregorios over the use of a homemade cannon in Tarlac province, north of Manila.

The devices, which make a booming sound, are typically used to celebrate New Year.

When the mother wrapped her arms around her son as the row intensified, Nuezca shot her in the head before doing the same to Frank. Before fleeing, Nuezca shot Sonia again.

Nuezca surrendered to police and is now facing two counts of murder. The government has promised a thorough investigation.

Critics and rights groups said Duterte’s talk of killing criminals and promises to protect law enforcement have emboldened police to commit and cover up murder.

Government data show that 5,942 suspected drug dealers have been killed by police since 2016.

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