MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe on the death of Reynaldo De Guzman, the companion of former University of the Philippines student Carl Angelo Arnaiz who was killed in an alleged shootout with members of the Caloocan police last month.
In his Department Order No. 581 issued Wednesday, Aguirre directed NBI Director Dante Gierran to conduct a probe and case build-up on the killing of De Guzman.
De Guzman and Arnaiz were last seen together on the night of August 17 while buying snacks in a convenience store near their residences in Cainta, Rizal.
Arnaiz was found dead with five gunshot wounds and bruises in Caloocan 10 days after they went missing, while De Guzman’s body, on the other hand, was found in Nueva Ecija with 30 stab wounds and his head wrapped in packaging tape early.Tuesday.
“The NBI, through Director Dante Gierran is directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up over the death of Reynaldo De Guzman and if so warrants, to file appropriate charges thereon,” the order said.
In a related development, Aguirre said President Rodrigo Duterte tasked him to conduct an independent and impartial investigation on the killing of Arnaiz through the NBI.
According to Aguirre, the parents of the victim Carlito and Eva Arnaiz, together with Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, met with President Duterte at the Malacanang on Wednesday afternoon.
“President Rodrigo Duterte said to the parents that he will ask the NBI to take over the investigation of Carl Arnaiz killing. (The) President Duterte assured the parents that the investigation to be conducted by the NBI under DOJ Sec. Aguirre will be fair and impartial,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre ordered Carl Angelo’s parents to be placed under the provisional coverage of the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
WPP is a program under the DOJ established under Republic Act No. 6981 or “The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act”, which seeks to encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by protecting the witness from reprisals and from economic dislocation.
On Monday, the DOJ chief directed the NBI to conduct a probe and case build-up on the death of Arnaiz.
The Arnaiz couple, along with the PAO chief, on Monday went to the DOJ to seek assistance for the immediate investigation of their son’s killing.
Acosta said they are still gathering more evidence before filing a case against the policemen involved in the operation.
She said initial investigation and forensic analysis contradicted the claim of policemen that Arnaiz was killed in a shootout.
Acosta said forensic analysis conducted by PAO showed that Arnaiz was tortured before he was killed, saying his wrists were swollen while his eyes were bruised.
His wrists, according to Acosta, also bore handcuff marks.
She said they are preparing the filing of murder charges against the two policemen before the DOJ.
According to the police, Arnaiz robbed taxi driver Tomas Bagcal along C3 Road in Caloocan and took the latter’s wallet before fleeing the scene.
The taxi driver, according to the police, sought their assistance but that Arnaiz allegedly fired at the responding policemen, prompting them to retaliate.
Police said Bagcal’s wallet was recovered at the crime scene along with some pieces of marijuana.
But the family of Arnaiz belied the allegations and called for an investigation into his death.
The death of Arnaiz and De Guzman came after 17-year old Kian Loyd Delos Santos was also killed by members of the Caloocan police in a supposed anti-drug operation last August 16. (PNA)