September 25, 2017, 1:39 am
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Arnaiz slay: Criminal raps filed against cops, cabbie

CRIMINAL charges were filed yesterday before the Justice Department against two Caloocan City cops and a cab driver tagged in the killing of former University of the Philippines student Carl Angelo Arnaiz and his friend, Reynaldo De Guzman.

Charged with double murder were PO1s Ricky Arquilita and Jeffrey Perez and taxi driver Tomas Bagcal. They were also charged with torture, planting of evidence under Section 29 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and Republic Act 10591 or Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Public Attorneys’ Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta assisted the parents of Arnaiz and De Guzman in filing the cases.

The PNP welcomed the filing of cases against the cops, with PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos saying “the alleged suspect/s will have their opportunity to defend themselves before the court.”

Arnaiz, 19, was killed by responding cops after he reportedly held up Bagcal along C3 road in Caloocan City last August 18, while De Guzman, 14, was believed to have been killed elsewhere before his body, which bore 30 stab wounds, was found floating in a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija last September 5.

Arnaiz and De Guzman, who both live in Cainta, Rizal, were last seen alive on the night of August 17.

The PNP claimed that the body recovered in Nueva Ecija was not De Guzman, or “Kulot,” because his DNA did not match with the DNA of his parents. Kulot was buried last Wednesday at the Pasig Public Cemetery.

Acosta said Bagcal was included in the case as a co-conspirator, adding it would be better if he goes to the DOJ to explain the inconsistencies in the two affidavits he supposedly executed on the incident.

“We believe he had knowledge of the twin killings. He should be brought here in the DOJ to explain his inconsistent affidavits,” Acosta said.

Bagcal claimed that he brought Arnaiz alive to the Caloocan City police on August 18. He claimed that after Arnaiz failed to rob him, the teenager fled but was mugged by bystanders.

Bagcal also claimed that the killing of Arnaiz was “scripted.”

Acosta said Bagcal could be removed from the case if he serves as a prosecution witness, adding he would qualify for the Witness Protection Program. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had earlier said they are open to accommodating Bagcal in the WPP.

Acosta also said they would ask the DOJ to order the Caloocan Police to provide records on cops, aside from Perez and Arquilita, who might be involved in the killings.

Perez and Arquilita claimed they were forced to fire at Arnaiz after the later fired at them when they responded to a call for help from a taxi driver who had allegedly been robbed by the former UP student in the wee hours of August 18, a day after the Caloocan Police allegedly killed teenager Kian Loyd Delos Santos in an anti-drug operation in the city.

But a forensic analysis by PAO showed that Arnaiz was handcuffed and was possibly kneeling down when he was shot dead. 

The DOJ yesterday gave the four Caloocan cops tagged in the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos until September 25 to submit their counter-affidavits on the criminal charges filed against them.

The four – Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, PO3 3 Arnel Oares, and PO1s Jerwin Cruz and Jeremias Pereda – are facing charges of murder, planting of evidence and violation of domicile under Article 128 of the Revised Penal Code filed by the National Bureau of Investigation.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria set additional preliminary hearings on October 2 and 10.

The Public Attorneys’ Office was also directed to submit its response to the counter-affidavits of the respondents and the rejoinder during the next hearings.

All four cops were present in yesterday’s preliminary hearing of the case along with the parents of the slain teenager – Saldy and Lorenza Delos Santos and PAO chief Persida Rueda Acosta.

During the hearing, the prosecution’s witnesses, including two minors, also subscribed to their affidavits. Of the 16 prosecution witnesses, seven were presented before the investigating panel of prosecutors.

The witnesses, who showed up with their faces covered with scarves to hide their identities, affirmed their respective affidavits in support of the allegations against the four respondents. Their names were withheld for security reasons.

Among the witnesses presented was one who claimed seeing Kian under custody of the respondents before he was shot dead.

The PAO also submitted to the DOJ panel the CCTV footage in the area operated by the barangay and results of the forensic exam conducted by the PAO indicating that Kian was lying face down when shot three times, twice in the head and once at the back.

Acosta told reporters they have an airtight case against the respondents.

“We are confident that we filed an airtight case based on the statements of our witnesses and forensic evidence,” Acosta said.

It will be recalled that Delos Santos was killed in what police said was an anti-drug operation. Cops said he fired at them while trying to flee, prompting them to retaliate.

Separate complaints for murder and torture were filed last August 25 by Delos Santos’ parents, through the PAO, against the policemen.

The cases filed by Delos Santos’ parents and the one filed by the NBI were consolidated yesterday. – With Raymond Africa
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