Police say Argoncillo 'mentally disturbed,' family denies claim
MANILA - Genesis Argoncillo, 22, was watching videos on his phone in front of a store next to their house in Novaliches, Quezon City last Friday night when policemen arrested him because he was not wearing a shirt, his elder sister recalled.
Little did Marilou know at the time that just four days later, she would see the lifeless body of "Tisoy," as her brother was fondly called, at the hospital, bearing marks of senseless beating.
"Noong dinala sa district hospital sabi ko, bakit ganito ang sinapit ng kapatid ko, buong katawan niya magang-maga.... Hinawakan ko 'yung katawan niya. Ang tigas ng kapatid ko, parang kagabi pa nila pinatay," she recalled as she sat on the spot where her brother was nabbed, tears flowing from her sunken eyes.
(I was asking why did this happen to my brother. His whole body was swollen. I held him, he was already stiff, it's like they killed him the night before.)
Supt. Carlito Grijaldo, commander of Quezon City Police Station 4, said Argoncillo's death was self-inflicted, claiming the detainee was "mentally disturbed" and was uncontrollable, making a scene inside the cell.
"Galing din naman sa pamilya niya, mentally ano 'yan, mentally disturbed... Mentally disturbed kasi 'yan, nagwawala sa loob inuuntog-untog 'yung sarili niya diyan," Grijaldo told ABS-CBN News.
(The family said he was mentally disturbed. He was making a scene inside the cell. He was bumping his head to the wall.)
Marilou, along with all the family members present in the interview, disputed this claim. Tisoy, she insisted, was very soft-spoken and never had any mental health issues nor any tendency to create a scandal, as the police were trying to portray him.
"Ginawaan pa nila ako ng kuwento na may sira ang kapatid ko. Walang sira ang kapatid ko," she said. "Kusa 'yun sumama sa kanila. Tinawag lang niya tiyahin ko, 'tita, may mga pulis dito, sabay lang ako, nakahubad kasi ako."
(Now they're making stories that my brother was crazy. He was not crazy. He willingly went with the police. He just told his auntie, 'I'll just go with the police because I have no shirt on.)
The elder sister made sure she visited Tisoy at his detention cell every day since his arrest. She brought food not only for her brother but also for the "mayor" or the detainee in charge at the cell so they wouldn't beat up his brother.
A copy of Argoncillo's death certificate obtained by ABS-CBN News from the family said the victim died of multiple blunt force trauma in the neck, head, chest, and upper extremities. The family said they even saw bruises on Tisoy's shoulders and hips.
"Sana kayo mismo nasa puwesto, kayong nakakaalam, sana umano naman sa puso niyo 'yung ginawa ninyo sa kapatid ko. Binaboy niyo po 'yung kapatid ko. Tapos sa sasabihin niyo pa nagwala ang kapatid ko? Hindi na kaya ng kapatid ko magwala dahil simula't sapul nanghihina na ang kapatid ko," said Marilou.
(I hope you people in power who knows more than we do, I hope you feel this in your heart, what you did to my brother. You treated him like a pig. Now you're saying he was making a scene? He was very weak that time to even make a scene.)
Arrested for alarm and scandal?
Police alleged that Argoncillo was intoxicated when authorities chanced upon him during "Oplan Galugad" operations. The police report also claimed that he was "challenging anyone to a fist fight which disturbs the serenity of the night."
He underwent inquest the next day for charges of "alarm and scandal." Four other men were arrested with him that night and were charged with the same complaints.
But the owner of the sari-sari store where Tisoy was arrested told Marilou that the police made him hold empty beer bottles left where he was sitting, and captured a photograph of him for use as evidence.
"Nagpa-load siya. Hinihintay lang niya 'yung load na pumasok sa cellphone niya kaya siya naghihintay dito. Tamang-tama naman dumating mga pulis dito. Dinampot siya. May mga bote ditong nakakalat, hindi naligpit ng may-ari ng tindahan. Agad-agad pinahawak 'yun sa kaniya tapos pinicturean na, 'yun na 'yung ginagawa nilang ebidensya," Marilou shared.
(He was waiting for the cellphone load he bought from the store when the police came and arrested him. There were beer bottles here and the police made him hold that. They took a picture of him with the bottles for their evidence.)
She said Tisoy was taken first to the barangay hall where she was told by police that her brother would be released because the arrest was just a warning. But her brother was brought to the station instead and was detained.
Marilou recalled her brother as very helpful to the family and even in the community. Tisoy, she said, earned a living by helping in his uncle's shop. When he has spare money, he would even buy diapers for his baby cousin.
Argoncillo was just one of the thousands of people arrested amid intensified police operations against people breaking city ordinances, following a verbal directive from President Rodrigo Duterte, calling loiterers (tambay) "potential trouble for the public."
But Grijaldo said Quezon City police is not undertaking a crackdown on bystanders or loiterers as they are simply implementing city ordinances, which they have been doing for years now.
Meanwhile, the Argoncillos are still puzzled why the police went to their place - a compound where family members reside- located deep in a labyrinth of narrow byways far from the main streets of the Novaliches district.
Asked for her message to the President, Marilou said: "Sana maawa ka naman sa sinapit ng kapatid ko. Hustisya lang naman ang hinahanap ng pamilya namin."
(I hope you pity my brother. We just want justice for him.)
"Hindi naman basagulero ang kapatid ko. Ang buhay niya nasayang sa bagong binaba mong [directive]. Ano ba ang kayang gawin namin kay mahirap lang kami," she added.
(My brother was not a war-freak. His life was wasted because of your new directive. What can we do, we're just poor.)
Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana said the agency would be looking into the death of Argoncillo. PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said he has also ordered an investigation into the case.