THE testimony of two policemen implicated in the deaths of teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman did not match the testimony of an eyewitness and the results of forensic analysis for the case, even as the cops asked the Department of Justice on Thursday to dismiss the criminal complaints filed against them.
Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita and taxi driver Tomas Bagcal appeared at the DoJ’s second preliminary investigation hearing to submit their respective counter-affidavits and defend themselves against the double murder, torture and planting of evidence charges they are facing.
Arnaiz’s parents, Carlito and Eva, their witnesses, and lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office were also at the hearing.
The three-man DoJ investigating panel, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio, gave the complainants until Oct. 23 to reply to the policemen’s defense. Another hearing was set for Oct. 26 for the filing of rejoinder affidavits by the respondents.
In their statement, Perez and Arquilita said Bagcal, Carl Angelo’s supposed holdup victim, sought their help at about 3:30 a.m. while they were on beat patrol along the stretch of C-3 Road in Caloocan City last Aug. 18.
They said Bagcal approached them “because he was robbed by his passenger.” After the taxi driver gave them a detailed description of the alleged robber, Perez and Arquilita said they proceeded to the scene of the crime within two minutes.
“We saw a person whom we suspected to be what Mr. Bagcal described to us… We alighted from our motorcycle and casually walked towards the direction of that person. Mr. Bagcal, who was also behind [us] during the case, shouted that the person in front of us was the person who robbed him, [so] we shouted to the person to stop walking while we introduced [ourselves] as policemen,” they said in their affidavit.
“As we covered behind the [electric] post of Meralco in the area, this person, instead of stopping, faced us, drew his gun, and started shooting us,” the policemen said. Instinct told them to fire back at the suspected robber, they added.
“We saw this person fell down and slumped to the ground. We waited for a few seconds before we went to him, then I [Perez] kicked the gun away from him and we felt that he was no longer moving,” the policemen said.
“Now, how could they charge us for murder and planting of evidence under Republic Act 10591 [the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act] and Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) if what we have only done was to protect ourselves from the shooting spree of Mr. Carl Arnaiz in response [to] a legitimate complaint of Mr. Bagcal,” the affidavit stated.
Their statement, however, contradicted the testimony of the eyewitness, who said Arnaiz was handcuffed and dragged out of a police vehicle around 1:30 a.m. The same witness said the teenager even shouted that he will already surrender when he was shot to death by one of the police officers.
The eyewitness testimony is also consistent with the forensic analysis conducted by Dr. Erwin Erfe and his team of the Public Attorney’s Office that Arnaiz’s estimated time of death was 1:30 a.m.., based on the wound on his right eyelid and the bluish discoloration of his mouth and tongue.
The policemen, however, insisted in their affidavit that it was a legitimate police operation “and what we have done last Aug. 18, 2017 is pursuant to the mission and vision of the Philippine National Police.”
“We humbly ask that these criminal charges be dismissed for utter lack of merit,” they added.
Perez, Arquilita and Bagcal were also charged with torture and planting of evidence under Section 29 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act 9165 and Republic Act 10591 or Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.