The Department of Justice (DoJ) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the death of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, who allegedly shot it out with Caloocan City policemen who had accosted him for allegedly robbing a taxi driver.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd made the directive after the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) took over the case.
“The written order was issued today [Monday] but I already issued a verbal order to that effect last Saturday,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre also ordered the NBI to probe the killing of a former chief prosecutor in Mandaluyong City.
Under Department Order 575, he directed NBI Director Dante Gierran to conduct a probe and case build-up on the death of Pablito Gahol, who was ambushed and gunned down by motorcycle-riding men last September 2.
The Arnaiz family asked for the help of PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta over the police’s version of events that led to the killing of the 19-year-old former University of the Philippines student on August 18.
The alleged assailants are Police Officer 1 Jeffrey Perez and PO1 Ricky Arquilita.
PAO Medico Legal Dr. Erwin Erfe noted that many bullets entered Arnaiz’s body.
It appeared from initial findings that the teenager was tortured before he was killed as his wrists were swollen and bore handcuff marks and his eyes were bruised.
It also appeared that Arnaiz could be kneeling when he was shot several times in the chest.
But the Caloocan City police said Arnaiz held up taxi driver Tomas Bagcal on C3 Road in the city, hit the driver on the head with a gun, took his wallet and immediately ran away.
The taxi driver then asked for help from the policemen patrolling the area to apprehend Arnaiz but the young man allegedly opened fire on them, prompting them to fire back.
The police said the wallet of the taxi driver containing P450 and the taxi were recovered from the crime scene.
They added that shabu and marijuana were recovered from Arnaiz.
The police’s claims were refuted by the family of the victim.
The two policemen said to be involved in the killing of Arnaiz have been sacked by Manila Police District chief Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa told a news conference also on Monday.
Perez and Arquilita of the Caloocan City Police were transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
De la Rosa called on the public to not be “too quick in condemning our policemen,” saying the Arnaiz case is “very different” from that of slain senior high school student Kian Loyd de los Santos who was also allegedly killed in Caloocan City last month by three members of the city police.
According to de la Rosa, the killing of Arnaiz was a “case of police response” wherein Perez and Arquilita supposedly came to the rescue of “a taxi driver [being held up]by Arnaiz.”
“So I told the policemen, find the taxi driver so you have proof [that he was held up],” he said.
De la Rosa added that Arnaiz “had a shootout with the policemen,” which led to his death.
According to him, “no one” was able to identify the student’s body until his parents came to the morgue on August 28 and identified him.
The PNP chief said he has no problem with a PAO report that Arnaiz’s body showed signs of “torture” before his death.
Two days before Arnaiz was killed, de los Santos was also killed in an anti-crime police operation in Caloocan City’s Barangay 160.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara also on Monday urged the government to compel policemen to observe the rule of law and stop them from becoming “killing machines” in their effort to pursue the war on drugs.
Angara and Sen. Joel Villanueva deplored the killing of Arnaiz.
“It looks like a repeat of the Kian killing and in the same area reportedly. The PAO reports an execution-type of killing with bullet wounds in the back. This is simply unacceptable,” Angara said.
“We should teach our police proper law enforcement and that their role is to bring suspects to justice and not be executioners,” he added.
Angara said, “We don’t need killing machines. We need speedy fair and efficient justice machines that people can trust, and don’t fear.”
“Recently, our nation went in mourning for the death of [de los Santos]in the hands of our police. And yet again, we have witnessed another injustice as a young life was once again claimed by our policemen,” Villanueva said.
Senators from the Liberal Party (LP) also expressed outrage over the Arnaiz case.
The party said the continuing denial of the PNP of its involvement “in the tide of extrajudicial killings, a spillover of the [Duterte] administration’s anti-drug war, now rings more hollow amid the emerging pattern of how the victims are killed.”
The PNP should act on the two cases with dispatch and transparency, and bring to the bar of justice the perpetrators, said Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes 4th, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th and detained Sen. Leila de Lima.
“Otherwise, its credibility would even be in deeper pits and the institution would face the risk of being perceived as no different from criminal syndicates. The PNP should start with the Caloocan policemen,” according to the LP senators who comprise the Senate minority bloc.
AND BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO