‘You are not the law’: Philippine Church raps police over teenager’s killing
Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar, 17, shot dead by cops on Aug. 2 in case of so-called mistaken identity
By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) - Amid criticism over the so-called war on drugs, a top bishop has reprimanded the police in the Philippines over the killing of a teenager who the cops said was shot dead over “mistaken identity.”
“Our dear cops, you are not the law,” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said in a mass for Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar, 17, who was killed by police on Aug. 2 in the Navotas city, news website Rappler reported on Thursday.
David, who is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), added: “You are mere enforcers of the law. You were not ordered, given uniforms, armed, and being paid from the country’s taxes just to kill people, but rather serve as our protector and savior of the country you are serving.”
The bishop, who is the lead Christian priest in Caloocan city, was addressing the funeral of Baltazar, who was laid to rest on Wednesday in La Loma Cemetery in a ceremony which was also attended by victims of the Philippines’ much-criticized war on drugs.
Baltazar was killed, which the bishop said was murder, when he and his friend were cleaning their boat in the river nearby their home, according to Rappler.
“How can you say you identified a person when you were mistaken? And because of this, you killed a person. Oops, I’m sorry. Is it that simple, sir? After you took a life? Even assuming that you correctly identified a suspect, should a law enforcer shoot him/her indiscriminately even though s/he did not fight back or was willing to surrender?” the bishop questioned.
According to his family, Baltazar fell into the water after sustaining gunshot wounds. His body remained submerged in water for at least three hours.
Forensic report showed he died of brain injuries as drowning was a contributing factor.
Philippine police said they were chasing a suspect who they said had boarded a boat.
The police also received much criticism over the so-called war on drugs which resulted in the death of hundreds and is facing an international probe.
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