MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said it regards "with profound dismay" the “disturbing” killing of 14-year-old Reynaldo De Guzman, companion of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, the teen killed in a supposed police shootout last month.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella urged authorities to bring perpetrators of the “suspicious crime” to justice, even as he noted that the spate of killings of teenagers allegedly committed by police could prompt a “rethinking” of the approach to the war on drugs and other police operations.
“The fact that the PNP (Philippine National Police) is being investigated, that there are Senate hearings, this indicates that, actually, the whole nation is in the process of rethinking the way we do things,” Abella said in a news conference in Malacañang.
“That is part now of the entire restructuring and renewing. And, actually, it falls within the ambit of the President’s campaign that there should be lesser crime, lesser corruption.”
De Guzman and Arnaiz both went missing on Aug. 17, when they left their homes in Cainta, Rizal to buy midnight snacks.
The body of Arnaiz was found in a funeral parlor in Caloocan City 10 days after being reported missing. Police said he was killed in a shootout after he allegedly robbed a taxi driver and fired first at responding officers.
Forensic examination, however, found that the boy may have been shot when already on the ground.
De Guzman’s remains, meanwhile, were found in Gapan, Nueva Ecija on Wednesday bearing multiple stab wounds, his head wrapped in packing tape.
De Guzman’s father believes his son was killed to prevent him from telling what he knew about Arnaiz's killing.
Abella agreed that the circumstances surrounding De Guzman's death were “truly suspect.”
He, however, said “we cannot go into any speculation at this stage. It must be properly investigated. And the assurance is there will be no whitewash.”
As President Rodrigo Duterte deals with growing public outrage over the killings of Arnaiz, De Guzman, and another Caloocan teenager Kian Delos Santos, he assured the public that police officers being linked to the teens' killings would end up in jail if found guilty.
Previously, Duterte has defended the police force against any criticism of irregularity in the conduct of his drug war. He has since tempered his messaging following the spate of killings of teenagers.