February 21, 2018, 9:24 pm
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Cab driver says killing of Arnaiz ‘scripted’

TOMAS Bagcal, the driver of the taxi allegedly held up by teenager Carlo Angelo Arnaiz last August 18, surfaced yesterday and claimed the killing of the former University of the Philippines student was “scripted.”

In a hastily-called press conference at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines on EDSA, Quezon City, Bagcal said Arnaiz, 19, hailed him in Navotas City and held him up at gunpoint when they reached Caloocan City. He added that Arnaiz even pulled the trigger but the gun did not fire. Arnaiz then tried to hit him with his gun and fled.

Bagcal said he was able to apprehend Arnaiz with the help of bystanders in the area, who ganged up on Arnaiz. He said he was able to pacify the bystanders and brought Arnaiz to the Caloocan police station, alive.

“‘Yung pagkapatay noong prinisent kong holdaper ay parang may stage play, parang scripted ang pagkapatay (the death of the holdupper was scripted),” he said.

“Dinala ko siya sa police station ng buhay. Isa lang ang humoldap sa akin at isa lang ang ti-nurnover ko sa police. Wala ng iba (I brought him to the police station alive. I was held up by just one person),” he added.

Bagcal, who showed up in pants, white shirt and denim jacket, was presented by Rise Up for Life and Rights, a network of church people and human rights advocates primarily dedicated to working with poor families affected by drug-related extra-judicial killings under President Duterte’s administration. 

In a press statement on Saturday night, Rise Up said that Bagcal and his family had sought refuge with their group last September 4.

Arnaiz went missing on the night of August 17 along with 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, a grade 5 elementary pupil. They were last seen alive in Cainta, Rizal, where they both live.

The body of Arnaiz turned up at a funeral parlor in Caloocan City last August 28, shot five times, while De Guzman was discovered lifeless floating in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija last September 5. His body bore 30 stab wounds.

Their deaths, along with that of Kian delos Santos, a 17-year-old grade 11 student who was allegedly killed by cops in an anti-illegal drugs operation in Caloocan City last August 16, has sparked public outrage against Duterte’s war on drugs.

Bagcal initially declined to confirm if the robber he brought to the police station was Arnaiz but finally admitted later that it was Arnaiz.

Bagcal said that when he got to the police station at 9th Avenue in Caloocan City, he was only asked a few questions such as his name, birthday, and age. He denied having executed two affidavits on the incident, as claimed by Caloocan police.

“Hindi totoong statement iyon eh. Ang tinanong lang sa akin doon, birthday, pangalan saka edad at OR, CR ng sasakyan. Aside from doon, wala,” Bagcal said, adding cops at the Police Community Precinct (PCP) 2 in Caloocan City had insisted that he implicate a 14-year-old in the robbery.

He said the police asked him to follow them to C3 Road, where Arnaiz was supposedly killed.

“Nakita ko naglalakad ‘yung naka-itim (Arnaiz). After a few seconds lang, andami ng putok na nadinig ko. Nagtago ako sa poste ng Meralco. Then bumulagta na yung naka-itim,” said Bagcal.

He initially refused to identify the robber or the killed individual as being Arnaiz but later on admitted that he was able to recognize the latter.

Bagcal also said that he hid and sought refuge from Rise Up because he feared for his and his family’s life.

“Ang apartment ko nga may rumansack na. Dati ‘yun nakasarado. Sa bahay ko may pumunta na din at hinahanap ako,” said Bagcal.

He said he is prepared to testify at the Senate if he is invited. “Handa po ako humarap sa Senado,” he said.

Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez And Ricky Arquilita of the Caloocan police had claimed they killed Arnaiz in a gunfight after he robbed Bagcal. The Public Attorney’s Office, however, said that based on autopsy results Arnaiz was in cuffs and possibly kneeling when he was shot dead.

Bagcal also promised the Arnaiz family that he will help them seek justice for the teenager’s death.  
 
SABOTAGE?

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe if the spate of killings targeting teenagers tagged by the authorities as being involved in the illegal drugs trade is being carried out to sabotage the administration’s anti-drug war.

Duterte earlier said that there seems to be a deliberate effort to sabotage his anti-drug campaign in the wake of the killings of Delos Santos, Arnaiz and De Guzman.

“The NBI is to determine if there are other motives other than killings these teenagers because we can see a trend that is targeting teenagers. This appears to me as an effort to ultimately destroy our police and of course the President,” Aguirre said.

The Justice Department had placed the parents of Delos Santos under the Witness Protection Program. Aguirre also said the DOJ would extend the same assistance to the parents of De Guzman.

The DOJ has set the next round of preliminary hearing on the murder and torture charges against Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares and Police Officers 1 Jeremiah Pereda and Jerwin Cruz of Caloocan City police station 7 for the killing of Delos Santos on September 14 and 21.
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