MANILA - Taxi driver Tomas Bagcal revealed Monday that he thought he would also be killed by police after he surrendered Carl Arnaiz and his companion after a predawn robbery last August 18.
Arnaiz, 19, was killed in Caloocan hours after he left his home in Cainta, Rizal to eat midnight snacks with his neighbor, 14-year old Reynaldo De Guzman.
In his testimony, Bagcal said 2 male passengers hailed his taxi around 12:30 to 1:00 a.m. of August 18 in Pasig City, with 5th Avenue in Caloocan City as the destination.
When they drove past the LRT station in 5th Avenue, the elder of the 2 passengers declared hold-up and pointed a knife near his ear, said Bagcal.
He immediately handed his wallet to the robber, but he said he was able to signal his front lights and a driver in the nearby tricycle station was able to detect commotion inside the cab.
He said the younger of the 2 repeatedly told him he was not part of the robbery ploy.
"Yung pinakabata, yung sinisigaw niya doon pa lang sa loob ng taxi ko ay ‘Hindi ako holdaper, Kuya; siya lang ang holdaper,'" he recalled.
When he realized that the knife was no longer near him, Bagcal said he tried to fight back.
Although he locked the doors of his vehicle, the younger one was able to open the door on the right side and the 2 escaped.
"Itong mas bata ay mga 15 meters lang ang natakbo niya tapos naka-upo na siya sa gutter. Nagsalita pa rin siya na ‘Siya lang po, Kuya, ang holdaper. Isinama lang niya ako,'" he said.
"Nakita kong may dalawang taong nakabantay sa bata na kasama nung holdaper, isang lalaki at isang babae. Sabi ko, ilapit natin itong mga holdaper dun sa taxi ko," he added.
Bagcal and the tricycle driver who helped him chase the thieves then opened the bag the robbery suspect left behind, and saw only pliers, screw driver, comforter, face mask, and keys. The knife used on Bagcal was also left on the car flooring.
After Bagcal and the tricycle driver decided to bring the suspects to the police station, they saw a barangay tanod who then accompanied them to the precinct in 5th Avenue.
'ITAPON NA LANG ITO'
Upon entry to the police station, the tricycle driver and the barangay tanod left while Bagcal told the cops that he wanted to turn over the suspects to them.
"Tanong ng pulis kung taga-saan kayo. Sumagot yung holdaper na Cainta at sinabihan ako ng pulis na pumasok ako sa isang kuwarto," he said, adding that before he entered, he heard the police order that the 2 be brought inside the detention cells.
"Pagkalipas ng more or less 10 minutes, pumasok itong isang pulis sa kuwarto ko, at sinabi ko ulit na i-turn over ko yung dalawang holdaper. Sinabi sa akin na itapon na lang ito sabay senyas na gigilitan na lang ng leeg yung dalawang holdaper. Pero sinabi ko pa rin na itu-turn over ko, sir, sa inyo itong dalawang holdaper," he said.
Gripped with fear and worry, he was left alone again inside the room and he sent a text message to his child that he was in the police station because he was robbed.
"Dahil sa takot at kaba ko sa sinabing itapon ang mga holdaper, naisip ko na pwede rin akong isabay sa mga holdaper na ipiniresent ko sa kanila. Higit sa lahat, hindi nila ako ini-logbook, hindi rin nila tinanong anong pangalan ko at anong address ko, ganun rin yung korporasyon ng taxi ko," he said.
When the cop returned to his room, Bagcal was ordered to drive his taxi. When they approached the car, a police officer pulled out his gun and cocked it before putting it back into the holster.
"Takot at kabado ako sa mga oras na yun, pag sakay namin sa taxi. Dumiretso kami ng 10th Avenue at sinabi nitong pulis na itapon itong mga holdaper na humoldap sa akin," he said.
"Nagsabi pa rin ako na i-turn over ko na lang sa kanila at ‘bahala na kayo kung anong gawin ninyo dito sa mga holdaper.’ May 10 beses kaming nag-stop and go at palinga-linga itong kasama kong pulis," he added.
The cop who sat in the passenger seat asked him if he was an Ilokano, to which Bagcal answered yes. The cop, who was an Ilokano too, asked to be called Sir Lakay and told him in Ilokano:
"Ayaw mo bang mabawasan ang mga humo-holdap sa inyong mga taxi driver?"
When Sir Lakay, later identified as Mr. Raras, alighted the car to buy cigarettes, Bagcal said he was able to report through their 2-way radio that he was held-up.
They drove around in a "stop and go" motion, said Bagcal, until they reached the police station in 9th Avenue. After parking his car, he felt the need to pee and he walked about 30 meters to relieve himself.
Sir Lakay then ordered that the suspects be transferred to the police mobile, but Bagcal later realized that they were still inside his cab with another police officer.
They drove the length of 5th Avenue with 3 civilian-clothed motorcycle-riding policemen until they reached Dagat-dagatan and Sir Lakay had him turn left towards C-3, where they stayed for about 35 minutes while Sir Lakay talked to someone on the phone.
After 2 minutes, a trailer truck stopped in front of them and someone who alighted from the truck entered his cab.
Then around 4:00 a.m., when they reached a gasoline station, he saw a parked police mobile, where the 2 cops brought the suspects, while the 2 others rode their motorcycles. Sir Lakay stayed with him in the car, and they headed towards Dagat-dagatan.
"Pagdating naming ng Dagat-dagatan, nag-u-turn kami sa stoplight, pa-counterflow. Yung 2 pulis, nauna na, sinusundan namin; more or less, 20 meters lang layo namin. Sabi naman ni Sir Lakay, huminto ka na dito," he said.
"Huminto kami pero yun yung pinagbabaril na yung holdaper at nakaluhod po siya. Yung isa lang ang binaba doon. Yung isa, naiwan sa sasakyan," he said.
Bagcal said he was too far to hear any words the victim may have uttered, but he was sure he was on his knees with his hands up.
Nevertheless, he was able to identify the shooters as Jeffrey Perez at Ricky Arquilita, both of whom attended the Senate hearing.