MANILA, Philippines — Posting the photos and personal information of the child involved in the Tarlac killings this week only opens the child to further violence, verbal abuse, and vilification, an international children's rights organization warned the public Wednesday.
This comes after Police SMSgt. Jonel Nuezca, now in custody and charged with two counts of murder, was caught on video shooting 52-year-old Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank Anthony Gregorio—both unarmed—at point-blank range in the middle of a heated exchange.
The same video that circulated social media showed that Nuezca's daughter was present at the shooting and was bickering with Gregorio before Nuezca decided to shoot them both. "My father is a policeman!" the child yelled seconds before watching the two get shot in the head.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, the United Nations Children's Fund warned that there could be a serious long-term impact left on the child after witnessing the murder and the bullying she might receive on social media or otherwise, saying: "The child is also a victim in this situation."
"Children have the right to be protected from all forms of violence, including bullying… Children also have the right to be supported through non-violent parenting practices and behaviors from adults to enable them to grow up in a safe environment and reach their full potential. Various studies have shown that children who are victims of and those who witness violence become vulnerable to physical and mental health problems, some of which will manifest when they reach their adulthood," the statement reads.
"UNICEF strongly urges the Philippine Government and the Philippine National Police to immediately adopt and implement the PNP Child Protection policy, which reinforces zero-tolerance for any act of violence against children and aims to ensure special protection of children from all forms of abuse and exploitation by providing policies and guidelines to be followed by all PNP personnel."
With outrage on social media still going strong, the international child rights' group also called on the local Social Welfare and Development Office in Paniqui to step in and provide psychosocial support and other needed child protection services the child might need in the aftermath of the killing.
Earlier Wednesday, nonprofit Save the Children Philippines also warned that there could be a “devastating” long-term impact on children who witnessed the shooting take place.
“The brutal incident can cause irreparable trauma, especially to the children involved, that may manifest later in the form of depression, anxiety, anger, disassociation, and other health problems,” Save the Children Philippines said.
"As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines is duty-bound to uphold the right of all children to be protected from all forms of violence, and their right to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment that develops their potentials and capacities," UNICEF also said.
— FrancoLuna with a report from Xave Gregorio
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