Palace: Taxi driver vital in Arnaiz case

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 11 2017 02:55 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday stressed that the testimony of taxi driver Tomas Bagcal is “vital” in the case involving the killing of teenager Carl Angelo Arnaiz.

Bagcal is the taxi driver who was allegedly robbed by Arnaiz along C-3 Road in Caloocan City last August 18.

He belied the claim of the police that a shootout ensued between law enforcers and Arnaiz, saying the circumstances leading to the teen’s death appeared “scripted.”

Nonetheless, Bagcal maintained that it was Arnaiz who robbed him.

"We look forward to Mr. Tomas Bagcal’s cooperation with authorities, as he willingly expressed during his press conference,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a news conference.

"We expect the truth of the matter to be clarified and those responsible made accountable before the law."

In a press conference on Sunday, Bagcal, who has sought refuge from the group Rise Up for Life and for Rights, claimed Arnaiz robbed him at gunpoint but that he was able to chase the teenager after the latter's gun failed to fire.

He said the teen was then mauled by tricycle drivers and a barangay watchman before he was turned over to the police and placed for a short time in a cell.

Later, police took him out and told Bagcal to follow them to C3 Road.

There, he said, the suspect was made "to walk" before shots rang out. The driver hid behind a post and saw the suspect fall.

The Public Attorney’s Office’s forensics team, however, expressed doubts over Bagcal’s latest testimony.

PAO forensics consultant Dr. Erwn Erfe said the crime scene appeared to be “staged,” noting there were no signs of killing in the spot where Bagcal said the police executed Arnaiz.

"Witness nila itong driver, sabi niya nakita daw niya dun sa area na yun. Mukhang hindi doon nangyari. Malabong mangyari doon because wala kaming makitang evidence that will support yung kaniyang story, kahit itong last na story niya na nakita niyang nakatago siya, hindi pa rin. It will not fit the physical evidence, malayo," Erfe told ANC.

Bagcal, then in hiding, was criticized for supposedly giving conflicting testimonies in two separate affidavits. The taxi driver, however, has since clarified that he did not execute the affidavits.

Amid the spate of killings of teenagers, President Rodrigo Duterte suggested that some people could be working to sabotage his war on drugs.

Abella said Duterte’s latest pronouncement should not be taken to mean that the President has cleared the cops implicated in Arnaiz’s killing.

“The campaign against illegal drugs is not a license to commit crime,” Abella said.