MANILA: Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar apologized to the public on Wednesday, two days after a video of a drunk police officer shooting a 52-year-old woman in the neck went viral on social media, resulting in widespread anger.
Many people took to Twitter to condemn the incident, with #PoliceAreTheTerrorists among the social media site’s top trends in the Philippines.
People also called for an end to police brutality after Lilybeth Valdez was murdered by her neighbor, Police Master Sgt. Hensie Zinampan, in a neighborhood of Quezon City, Metro Manila, on Monday night.
In the video clip, Zinampan is seen approaching Valdez before pointing his gun at her, pulling her by the hair and shooting her in the neck. The incident was filmed by Valdez’s grandson, who was nearby.
“That (crime) is atrocious and unacceptable, and I’m apologizing to our countrymen for the act committed by that policeman,” Eleazar said in a TV interview on Wednesday, adding that the incident was “a great blow and huge embarrassment” for the police force which has been pushing for reforms.
Eleazar said that while the Twitter trends saddened him, he felt unable to blame his fellow countrymen for their reactions.
“They are entitled to their opinion and sentiments. What we can do is double our efforts to achieve our goal to regain public trust and support to the police,” he said.
Some people online posted still images of the incident with their tweets, with one asking: “Who do you call when the police murders?”
Another, who uses the handle @imkierantu, used a still image along with the caption: “tw // violence, death, police brutality #PULISANGTERORISTA,” while @_hansjob_ said: “If it weren’t for the video, this would have been another ‘isolated case…’”
In a separate statement released by his office on Wednesday, Eleazar assured the public that “there are still more good policemen than the few rogues in the ranks” and that the leadership intended “to undertake serious reforms in the organization.”
The Zinampan case is the latest incident of a police officer involved in a murder in the Philippines, after Staff Sgt. Jonel Nuezca shot his unarmed female neighbor and her son in Tarlac province last year. Nuezca is currently in jail, and has been dismissed from the police.
Filipinos on social media noted that at the time, Zinampan even condemned Nuezca for his crime through his own social media account.
Zinampan was immediately arrested following the shooting by responding policemen, and was presented to Eleazar on Tuesday.
The PNP, in its report, said Zinampan, who was drunk, was already holding his gun when he approached Valdez and confronted her.
The victim’s family told investigators that Zinampan pulled Valdez’s hair and shot her in the neck, killing her instantly.
Zinampan, when arrested, denied the accusation, but the video footage confirmed the family’s account, which reportedly came a month after Valdez’s son was involved in a fistfight with Zinampan on May 1.
Eleazar assured the family that the policeman would be dismissed from the PNP at the “soonest possible time.”