DESPITE the objection of lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the three-man panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) gave three suspects, including two policemen, linked to the deaths of two teenagers in August until Friday to produce their two witnesses.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio instructed the lawyers of Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez, Ricky Arquilita, and taxi driver Tomas Bagcal to produce Madeline Somilan and Solomon Rosca or submit their original sworn statements.
PAO Chief Persida Rueda Acosta objected, saying that the preliminary investigation had been going on for two months and that justice was being denied to the two teenagers.
“It seems that the testimonies of Soliman and Rosca are their main defense. We don’t want to deprive them of their right. So, you have until Friday to submit the original affidavits or bring them here and subscribe to their testimonies,” Victorio directed the lawyers of the accused.
Dodjie Encinas, lawyer of the two police officers, said his clients received the photocopy of the testimonies of the witnesses only last Nov. 4 through courier service and that they could not locate them at once since their movement was limited having been detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
“We are thankful to the panel for granting our request since the two witnesses could give a clearer account of what really happened. If it was not granted, our defense is still strong since they don’t have credible witnesses,” Encinas told The Manila Times.
The three accused were being implicated in the death of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman , 14. The DoJ is conducting a preliminary investigation on charges for double murder, torture and planting of evidence under Republic Act 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act) and RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act) filed against them by the parents of the victims.
The accused police officers insisted that Arnaiz was killed in a shootout when he robbed Bagcal along C-3 Road in Caloocan City sometime on August 18. De Guzman’s bloated body with at least 28 stab wounds was found floating in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija on September 5.
Arnaiz and De Guzman were neighbors in a village in Cainta, Rizal, a province adjacent to Metro Manila.
Encinas said Soliman and Rosca saw Arnaiz engage police in a shootout.
However, witnesses of the victims said there was no shootout and Arnaiz even begged for his life when he was shot by the police officers.
The parents of the victims attended the hearing on Tuesday but avoided being interviewed. The two accused police officers were present but Bagcal failed to attend the hearing.