DOJ charges Caloocan cops for Arnaiz-De Guzman slay

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2018 05:15 PM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday indicted two Caloocan City police officers for the murder of 19-year old Carl Angelo Arnaiz and 14-year old Reynaldo De Guzman last year after a panel of prosecutors found probable cause against them.

In a 35-page resolution, the DOJ panel found probable cause to bring to court Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita for two counts of murder, two counts of torture, and three counts of planting of evidence (.38 caliber revolver, ‘shabu,’ marijuana) for the double slay. 

The charges against taxi driver Tomas Bagcal were, meanwhile, dismissed for absence of any overt act that would implicate him in the crime.

Arnaiz and De Guzman went missing on August 17 last year. Arnaiz’s body was recovered in a morgue ten days later, while De Guzman was found 20 days later in Gapan, Nueva Ecija with 26 stab wounds. 

The policemen admitted to killing Arnaiz but claimed it was a legitimate police operation, saying the latter was caught robbing Bagcal and that he had fired at them first. 

Perez and Arquilita did not address De Guzman's killing during the preliminary investigation. 

The DOJ said it gave weight to the testimony of bystander “Joe Daniel,” the eyewitness presented by the complainants: Arnaiz’s parents, Carlito and Eva, and De Guzman’s parents, Gabriel and Lina.

The DOJ said “treachery” was present in Arnaiz’s slay. 

“He (“Joe Daniel”) witnessed how the police officers shot the handcuffed male (Arnaiz) who was already on his knees, with arms raised, shouting ‘Susuko na ako.’ Those pleas fell on deaf ears as the police officers shot the handcuffed male three times," the resolution read. 

"He also narrated that one of the police officers took a firearm inside the mobile patrol car and placed it on the hand of the male victim,” it said. 

In De Guzman’s case, the DOJ considered the factual circumstances that he and Arnaiz were last seen together, both were taken and found dead far away from their respective homes, and were tortured. 

It also cited the eyewitness' testimony that a “smaller person” fitting De Guzman’s description was seated beside Arnaiz inside the policemen’s mobile patrol car.

“[A]n unbroken chain of circumstances… would reasonably lead to the conclusion that… PO1 Perez and PO1 Arquilita were likewise responsible for his death since they were the last persons seen to be in the company, or having custody of, [De Guzman],” the resolution read. 

The DOJ explained that the charges against Bagcal were junked because there was “no overt act on his part that would implicate him in the crime.” Bagcal’s narration of the incident was also considered in the ruling to indict the two policemen. 

Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan said the DOJ filed a motion for the consolidation and joint trial of the cases against the two policemen. The same panel that conducted the preliminary investigation will prosecute the case before the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court, unless an order is issued designating local prosecutors, he added. 

The murder of Arnaiz and De Guzman along with the controversial killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos in Caloocan City last year had led to the relief of the city's entire police force.