MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday vowed justice for slain teenager Carl Angelo Arnaiz as he assured the public that he would not tolerate abusive cops.
The President gave this assurance after he met with Arnaiz’s parents in Malacañang on Wednesday.
Duterte said he has ordered Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to “take over” the case of the 19-year-old boy.
“Ang sinabi ko naman talaga, ‘We will protect the soldiers and the policemen.’ Wala… No doubt about it. But always, there has to be the element of the performance of duty. And you do not kill defenseless persons,” Duterte said in a speech during the 60th anniversary celebration of the Social Security System in Quezon City.
“I’m sorry, but I will pursue the cases against the police, and if need be, they should go to jail. Wala akong inutos na ‘patayin mo ‘yung bata o matanda and even the enemy on bended knees.’ That is not the norm nor the rule of a democracy.”
The government has been dealing with growing public outrage after the killings of Arnaiz and 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos in Caloocan City in separate police operations in August.
Arnaiz was killed in a shootout allegedly after robbing a taxi driver on Aug. 17, the same night he left their home in Cainta, Rizal. A police spot report said marijuana leaves were recovered from the teenager. Torture marks were, however, found in his body.
Delos Santos, on the other hand, was shot dead after allegedly fighting cops conducting an anti-narcotics sweep last Aug. 16. Witnesses, however, claimed the Grade 12 student was mauled, handed a gun and told to run for his life.
Forensic examinations by the Public Attorney’s Office revealed that the two teenage boys appeared to have been murdered as they were already on the ground when shot.
In a related development, Reynaldo de Guzman, Arnaiz's 14-year-old companion on the night he disappeared, was found dead in Nueva Ecija on Wednesday with multiple stab wounds.
As police drew heavy criticism over the teens' questionable killings, Duterte on Tuesday said this does not necessarily mean that it has become the policy of the government to kill innocent civilians.
In his speech Wednesday, Duterte said despite public outrage over the allegedly questionable police killings, his war on drugs would continue.
In the same breath, he issued a stern warning to abusive cops.
“I have mistakes. Faults many. But itong droga will stay. I would like to tell you that if I do not act decisively, sans ‘yung ano nila na the attacks about extrajudicial killing, of course, we do not like it,” he said.
“And if you are into it (EJKs), I’ll see to it you go to jail. Baka ako pa ang babaril sa’yo. Pero if I do not control drugs, I will, you know, put the next generation into jeopardy.”
Earlier, Duterte vowed justice for Delos Santos' death. He also met with the boy's family in Malacañang and promised to immediately resolve their son's case.