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Nationwide round-up (12/21/20)

No bail set for cop indicted with double murder

THE TARLAC provincial prosecutor indicted police officer Jonel M. Nuezca on Monday with two counts of murder over the shooting of his neighbors, a mother and son, on Sunday. “Upon inquest, the office of the provincial prosecutor of Tarlac has found probable cause to indict respondent Jonel Nuezca for two counts of murder,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters via Viber. The probable cause was based on affidavits and supporting documents, according to the prosecutors’ resolution. The information was filed before Regional Trial Court Branch 67 in Paniqui, Tarlac. The prosecutors did not recommend bail for Mr. Nuezca, who is now under the custody of the Tarlac Provincial Police Office. The policeman, who is assigned at the Parañaque City Police Station and was visiting his home in Paniqui, Tarlac, shot the two following an altercation over a native holiday noisemaker and their history of dispute over land right-of-way. A video of the incident circulated online, sparking public outrage. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año, in a statement Monday, assured that administrative and criminal cases will be filed against the cop. Mr. Año called the incident an “unfortunate but isolated incident.”

Lawmakers and rights organizations condemned the incident as they called for the swift delivery of justice and review of police policies. “The police force is expected to be disciplined, discerning, and professional. The PNP (Philippine National Police) ought to live by their motto of ‘To Serve and Protect’. Each and every police is expected to protect our rights,” Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia said in a statement on Monday. The CHR also called on the government to conduct a widespread investigation on allegations of arbitrary killing so as not to worsen the climate of impunity in the country. International organization Human Rights Watch said the incident just made it clearer that many members of the police force are “simply out of control.” “As with many incidents of recent police violence, the killing by Nuezca of Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank was brazen and underscores the impunity that prevails in the Philippines,” it said. Several senators, meanwhile, filed a resolution seeking an inquiry on the recent series of unlawful killings, including doctors, lawyers and journalists. At the House of Representatives, Speaker Lord Alan Q. Velasco said the incident highlights the need for the PNP leadership to remind its ranks on the proper and responsible use of their weapons. Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence H. Fortun, for his part, said the case is not an isolated incident but “among multitudes of police brutality.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, and Charmaine A. Tadalan

Rice supply stable despite typhoons, says Agri chief

RICE supply in the country remains stable despite consecutive typhoons in the last quarter this year, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a news briefing on Monday. Mr. Dar said government data shows rice production will increase by 4.6% in the fourth quarter and that the country has enough rice stock for the next three months. He also said core production in the fourth quarter is also growing by 1.4%, with gross value of agriculture estimated at P404.6 billion. The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to distribute seedlings, loan assistance, and indemnify affected farmers to sustain food security in the country, he added. Based on DA data, losses incurred by farmers and fishermen in the wake of the devastation caused by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses — known internationally as Molave, Goni, and Vamco, respectively — were at around ₱12.3 billion. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Duterte approves service incentive pay for government workers

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has authorized the release of service recognition incentives (SRI) of up to P10,000 to government employees, Malacañang said on Monday. Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said Mr. Duterte has issued administrative order No. 37, signed on Dec. 18, which will distribute SRI at a uniform rate. The incentive may be availed by civilian personnel occupying regular, contractual or casual positions and were still in service as of Nov. 30, 2020. The worker should also have rendered four months of satisfactory service as of Nov. 30 to be entitled to the P10,000 grant. Those who have rendered at least three months may get 40% of the incentive, 30% for at least two months, 20% for at least one month, and 10% if less than a month. This will apply to civilian personnel in national government agencies, state universities and colleges, and government-owned and controlled corporations. Uniformed personnel of the military, police, Bureau of Corrections and the Philippine Coast Guard, among others, are also covered. Consultants and experts engaged for a limited period for a specific activity, those under job contracts, job orders, and contracts of service, and student workers are not entitled to the benefit. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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