A REGIONAL court in Navotas City has convicted a police officer of murder over the killing of two teenagers during the previous administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.  

In a decision made public on Monday, the Navotas Regional Trial Court Branch 287 sentenced the patrolman to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison and to pay civil indemnity, moral and exemplary damages of P100,000 each, including actual damages worth P90,000.  

“This court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder punishable under the revised penal code in relation to the Family Courts Act of 1997,” it said.  

“Accordingly, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without eligibility of parole.”  

The same cop was convicted in November by a Caloocan trial court of torture and planting of evidence in the killing of 19-year-old Carl Angelo M. Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo D. De Guzman.  

The Department of Justice filed the charges before the court in 2018 against two policemen involved in the murder of the two teens. The other cop died of hepatitis in 2019 while in detention.  

The court said the two policemen had the motive to plant ammunition on Mr. Arnaiz to support the story of a shootout after he supposedly robbed a taxi driver.  

A witness had testified that the 19-year-old was handcuffed before being shot by the law enforcers.  

At least 25 police officers have been charged with murder in connection with ex-President Rodrigo R. Dutertes deadly drug war, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the United Nations Human Rights Council in November.  

An inter-agency task force on extralegal killings had investigated at least 17,000 cops, he added.  

The Philippine government estimates that at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers were killed in police operations under the Duterte administration. Human rights groups say as many as 30,000 suspects died.  

This year, Philippine police have arrested 8,183 drug suspects in 6,044 illegal drug operations from Jan. to Feb. 11, national police chief General Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. said on Feb. 13.   

Human rights abuses continued under the first six months of the current administration under President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Human Rights Watch said in a report on Jan. 12. John Victor D. Ordoñez