Karapatan decries the lighter penalties against Navotas police officers involved in the killing of 17-year old Jemboy Baltazar, as the Navotas Regional Trial Court Branch 286 promulgated its decision finding Police Staff Sergeant Gerry Maliban guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and four others of illegal discharge of firearm, instead of murder. One police officer was acquitted.

On August 2, 2023, 17-year-old Jemboy Baltazar was killed by policemen in Navotas City while he and a friend were on a boat, getting ready to fish. The policemen who were pursuing a murder suspect shot and killed Jemboy in a supposed case of mistaken identity, and left him submerged in the water where he later succumbed to drowning and a gunshot wound to the head. Police claimed that the body-worn camera of the cops who shot Jemboy had been turned off during the said incident.

This lamentable outcome on Jemboy’s case shows how the Philippine justice system continues to fail the victims of police killings and brutality in the country in pursuing full accountability of perpetrators. Thousands were killed during Duterte’s drug war, and such killings continue under the Marcos Jr. administration because of the prevalent climate of impunity, with those in uniform and their higher-ups intoxicated with power to commit crimes. As in the case of the killings under the Duterte regime, victims, especially the poor, are still unable to obtain justice.

We support calls for the reversal of the court’s ruling on this case, as we reiterate our support for the family of Jemboy Baltazar and all victims of police fascist violence.