Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the death of a 15-year old in Rodriguez, Rizal

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the death of a 15-year old in Rodriguez, Rizal

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in line with its Constitutional mandate, has launched a motu proprio investigation into the killing of a 15-year old boy identified as John Frances Ompad, a resident of Rodriguez, Rizal, after being allegedly shot on Sunday, 20 August 2023, by Police Corporal Arnulfo Sabillo, 37, assigned to the community police assistance center (COMPAC) 5 of Rodriguez Philippine National Police (PNP). Thus far, CHR has already engaged with PNP and visited the family of the victim as part of our independent probe.

CHR is seriously concerned over this incident, especially that this is the second instance this month when the perpetrator of the alleged arbitrary deprivation of life involves a police officer and the victim is a minor. [1]

Based on reports, police officer Sabillo and a civilian companion attempted to pull over the victim’s brother, John Ace Ompad, who was on a motorcycle. The suspects were allegedly both in plainclothes and reeking of alcohol at that time. John Ace allegedly refused to stop and continued heading home. A motorcycle chase ensued. John Ace eventually took off his helmet and threw it at Sabillo and his civilian companion. This allegedly prompted the police officer to draw his firearm and shoot. However, Sabillio missed and hit John Frances instead who just stepped out of their house. The victim was shot in the abdomen and eventually died while undergoing treatment in a hospital.

CHR reiterates that the PNP manual of operations is very clear in its guidelines in the conduct of checkpoints. Aside from securing the necessary authorisation from the Head of Office of the territorial PNP unit, the checkpoint must be manned by PNP personnel in “a presentable appearance while wearing the prescribed uniform.” The PNP manual also prescribes that the checkpoint must be “well-lighted with a visible signage bearing the name and contact of the PNP unit and the [Team Leader]” of the checkpoint operation. And even when a legitimate checkpoint is ignored, the said PNP manual reminds that reasonable force must be employed to overcome aggression.

CHR acknowledges the arrest of Sabillo and his companion. PNP also reported that the two suspects will face homicide and attempted homicide; while Sabillo will face additional administrative charges. The entire personnel of Rodriguez police COMPAC 5 were also relieved from their duty, pending the investigation of possible lapses.

Every police officer as a duty-bearer of the people’s human rights must be reminded of their duty “to serve and protect” and the irreversibility of errors resulting in the arbitrary deprivation of life. Acts of violence that may result in the violation of rights should never be the first response to aggression.

CHR extends its condolences to the family and friends of John Frances. We hope that our independent investigation aids in the pursuit of accountability from the perpetrators. At the same time, the country has seen enough human rights violations that warrant serious reforms from duty-bearer institutions, such as the police, so they may fully and faithfully uphold their obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.

[1] Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the death of a 17 year-old boy after being mistakenly identified and shot by police in Navotas, 11 August 2023,