Rodaliza Baltazar

Lawyers of human rights group IDEALS on Tuesday formally filed a murder complaint against 19 Navotas cops who were involved in the operation that led to the killing of Jerhode “Jemboy” Baltazar, the 17-year-old boy who was fatally shot on August 2 in a case of mistaken identity.

“Kailangang panagutin ang mga kapulisang sangkot sa krimen at pang-aabusong ginawa sa isang inosenteng biktima. Let’s end the cycle of impunity,” said Atty. Ansheline Bacudio, IDEALS Human Rights Program Manager and counsel for the victim’s family.

The complaint was filed before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Navotas. It comes after two Senate hearings, one on August 22 and another on August 29, in which several of the involved cops were cited in contempt by the panel for their evasive and inconsistent narratives surrounding the circumstances of Baltazar’s death.

“Dismayado po ako sa mga narinig ko kanina kasi nagsisinungaling po [ang mga pulis],” Jemboy’s mother Rodaliza said.

Killing of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar

Atty. Bacudio also urges the police to tell the truth. “Huwag na po sana nilang ipagkait pa ang katotohanan sa pamilyang naulila. We demand the truth and justice that the [Baltazar] family deserves,” she said.

A complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was previously filed against six of the officers, but various human rights and law groups, including IDEALS, asserted that they should have been charged for murder instead.

Litmus test for government accountability

After filing the complaint, Rodaliza recalled how her son, the youngest of three siblings, once dreamed of becoming a seafarer to help their family. For her, the decision to file a case hinges on the need for a police force that does not treat killings lightly.

“Sa mga kapwa ko ina, sana hindi na maulit pa ang nangyari kay Jemboy,” she tearfully said.

Just days before, another teenager was killed at the hands of the police. John Francis Ompad, 15, was shot dead on August 20 in Rodriguez, Rizal by a plainclothes officer, who fired several bullets that were supposedly intended for his brother.

Killing of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar

The said officer had been in pursuit of the brother, who fled from a routine inspection, and tried shooting him — in itself a violation of the operational procedures of the Philippine National Police (PNP) — but fatally hit John Francis in the abdomen instead.

IDEALS also challenges the PNP to cooperate in providing key information and ensuring that errant cops are made accountable to the full extent of the law.

“Ang amin pong panawagan: ilabas na po nila ang mga dokumentong lalong magbibigay-linaw sa totoong nangyari,” Atty. Bacudio said. “Kung sinsero po ang kagustuhan nilang ituwid ang mga kamalian sa kanilang ranggo, umaasa po kami na makikipagtulungan po sila sa amin sa usaping ito,” she emphasized.

Killing of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar

Since 2017, IDEALS has documented 727 human rights violations, 392 of which were killings committed under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. The organization provides legal support and documentation, along with psychosocial support to families of victim-survivors.

The organization’s lawyers also represent victims of human rights violations in court. In 2019, IDEALS lawyers filed murder and frustrated murder charges against a Marikina police officer for having shot dead Kim Lester Ramos, a 23-year old construction worker. It also filed multiple charges against eight police officers from Morong, Rizal for the illegal arrest of Jen Marie Mesa.

Cases have also been filed for the correction of erroneous death certificates of drug-war related victims, including that of 6-year-old Lenin Baylon, the decision of which the Court of Appeals promulgated on November 15, 2022.

Killing of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar

Ultimately, by pressing murder charges, IDEALS seeks to inspire hope among other victims of human rights violations (HRVs) and their families.

“We fervently hope and pray that cases like [Jemboy’s] will never happen again,” Atty. Bacudio said. “But in the event that they do, we hope that the victims’ families can find solace knowing that they are not alone—that there are people ready to stand with them and help them pursue justice. Bukas po ang pintuan ng IDEALS para manindigan at tumulong sa inyo.”

Killing of 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar

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