De Lima commends widow’s courage for filing cases vs policemen behind husband’s killing

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lauded a widow’s courage for filing criminal and administrative charges against a group of policemen who killed her husband in an alleged buy-bust operation.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration’s violent war on drugs, commended Mary Joy Sta. Rita for belatedly filing charges against the policemen for the death of her husband Jerson in Pulilan, Bulacan last Nov. 15.

“I commend her for her courage to hold these 13 policemen accountable for the murder of her husband and to bring justice to his death at the hands of authorities who were supposed to protect us,” she said.

Last Sept. 6, Sta. Rita filed murder, planting of evidence, obstruction of justice, grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official against 12 policemen, led by Pulilan police chief Major Avelino Protacio II.

Aside from Protacio, among those charged were Major Joy Placido, Master Sergeant Noel San Pedro, Staff Sergeant Patrick Nagal, Staff Sergeant Renato Bagan, Staff Sergeant Marlon Lace Mito, Staff Sergeant Jonathan de la Cruz, Staff Sergeant Ronaldo Terana Jr, Captain Erico Cruz, Patrolman Rodolfo Floresca Jr, Patrolman Joe Lino Lisondra and Patrolman Sean Patrick Aliga.

The widow also charged Capt. Alexander Ancheta, the investigator assigned to the case, with committing obstruction of justice, grave abuse of authority, and conduct unbecoming of a public official.

“We hope that other victims’ families should also draw inspiration from Sta. Rita who personified courage in exacting accountability under our law for this murderous policy that killed her husband,” said De Lima, a known human rights and social justice champion.

“With thousands of suspected drug offenders killed, most of whom remained unreported or were afraid to report to police because the police themselves are the killers, there are many other widows and orphans who are crying for justice,” she added.

Sta. Rita’s husband was among those hundreds killed in the intensified anti-drug campaign of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Central Luzon in 2018, earning the region the label of “new killing fields”.

In the previous 17th Congress, the lady Senator from Bicol filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 1041 calling for an immediate Senate investigation into the drastic increase in the number of drug-related killings in Central Luzon last year.

Based on 2018 data released by PNP, 542 drugs suspects were killed in police operations in Central Luzon, compared to 285 drugs suspects killed in the National Capital Region (NCR).

De Lima also pointed out that cops in Region III have low number of seized illegal drugs, with Central Luzon cops only having hauled 11.98 kilograms of shabu, an amount greatly lower than that of Metro Manila cops’ 143.85 kilograms.

This 18th Congress, she reintroduced a measure strengthening the Philippine National Police’s Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO) to ensure that policemen will have highest regard for human rights and the rule of law.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 375 mandates the PNP-HRAO to develop plans, policies, and programs to ensure that PNP is compliant with human rights standards provided in treaties ratified by the Philippines.

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