President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fires a few rounds from a sniper rifle as he leads the ceremonial shoot during the opening ceremony of the National Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Challenge at the Team Davao Inc. Pistol and Rifle Range in Ma-a, Davao City on March 1, 2018. Also in the photo is Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa. JOEY DALUMPINES/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday denounced the killing of a mother and her son on Sunday in Paniqui, Tarlac by a police officer and said it was not an isolated case of police violence in the Philippines.

“The grim news today of a police officer in Tarlac, in the northern Philippines, shooting to death a mother and her son over a dispute about the use of holiday noisemaker is just the latest incident to drive home this reality: many members of the Philippine police are simply out of control,” Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director, said in a statement.

Police Sr. Master Sgt. Jonel Nuezca was taped gunning down Sonya Gregorio and Frank Gregorio just outside their home over an argument over noise and an old dispute over right of way.

Roberston said the double murder case was brazen and underscored the impunity caused by President Rodrigo Duterte’s tone.

“It took place in the context of an enabling environment for police violence that President Duterte himself has encouraged,” he said.

“Countless times, Duterte has excused police misconduct and promised to let them off the hook. Sunday’s killings in Tarlac province are an inevitable result of the Philippine government’s failure to hold erring law enforcers to account, he added.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also called for police responsibility for the “senseless killing” deserving of the “strongest condemnation.”

“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. As such, it is unacceptable when they are the ones being at the forefront of perpetuating such human rights violations,” CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.

“The government… holds the primary obligation to protect and promote our rights, most especially our right to life. We should never take human rights violations lightly and continue to demand for justice and accountability,” she added.

De Guia also urged the public to stop reviling Nuezca’s 13-year-old daughter who was at the scene of the shooting.

“Put in mind the best interest of the child also seen in the video. Vilifying the minor publicly, even posting the child’s name and photos, may inflict irreparable trauma that might worsen this situation. Let proper interventions deal with the child’s situation separately,” she said.

Region 3 Police Chief Brig. Gen. Val de Leon said two counts of murder would be filed against Nuezca. John Ezekiel J. Hirro