Aguirre backs Duterte’s ‘sabotage claim’ on anti-drug campaign

Aguirre backs Duterte’s ‘sabotage claim’ on anti-drug campaign


MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that the ongoing anti-drug campaign of the administration is being sabotaged in connection with the recent killing of male teenagers.

Aguirre shared the observation of the President Duterte, stressing that there seems to be a deliberate effort to sabotage and discredit the war on drugs.

“This appears to me as an effort to ultimately destroy our police force and of course, the President,” Aguirre noted. In his speech during the 17th anniversary of Digos City in Davao del Sur on Friday, the President said the spate of killings of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman alias “Kulot” was meant to sabotage the Philippine National Police (PNP) and its war on drugs.

The President also ordered the PNP leadership to investigate who could be behind such plot, which he attributed to narco-politicians and drug lords.

The DOJ chief ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into this angle in its ongoing investigations on the killings of Delos Santos, Arnaiz and De Guzman.

“We have to determine if there are other motives other than killing of these teenagers because we can see a trend that is targeting teenagers. This has not happened before when the war on drugs started,” he explained.

For her part, Public Attoneys Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta supports Aguirre’s opinion.

“It’s obvious already that there’s an agenda in these killings. They are sacrificing teenagers to pursue their agenda. How could they stand doing that?” the PAO chief said, who providing legal assistance to the parents of the three slain teenagers.

Acosta also said that they will be filing a criminal complaint for murder at the DOJ in the killing of Arnaiz, 19 and De Guzman, 14 this coming week.

This will be a joint case. The complaint will be filed as a double murder case, the PAO chief told reporters on Friday.

Acosta said that the respondents will be based on the memorandum of Police Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna identifying PO1 Jeffrey Perez and PO1 Ricky Arquilita as the policemen involved in Carl’s killing.

The PAO chief bared that they were able to find a key witness to support the criminal complaint.

“This witness gave us very important information on what really happened to Carl and Kulot. So together with the testimonial evidence and physicial evidence like forensic tests, we find basis to pursue murder and torture charges against these policemen,” she revealed.

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.

Acosta said that the taxi driver who was allegedly robbed by Carl, Tomas Bagcal, has yet to be determined whether or not he will be included in the charges.

Not yet. We are very fair. (We will know) when we see him, if he will ever surface. He is a person of interest because he has two conflicting statements,” Acosta said.

He is currently missing. That is why we have sought help to locate him to give him protection. He is one of the key persons to determine what really happened,” she said.

The PAO chief said that Carl and Reynaldo’s cases will be treated as one case as both teenagers, who are both from Cainta but ended up dead elsewhere, were both reported missing on the same day.

Police chief Chito Bersaluna has a memorandum report which will be used as basis on those who are involved here. It will also be used (as basis) to know the John Does involved,” the PAO chief said.

The DOJ has also placed the family of Carl Arnaiz under full coverage of the Witness Protection Program (WPP) pending the investigation into the teenager’s controversial killing that has sparked public outrage.

Acosta said that Carl’s parents, siblings and grandmother are now set to be transferred to a safe house after their application for witness protection was granted.

In addition, the PAO chief said that Reynaldo’s family has been granted provisional coverage of the WPP pending their application for government protection at the DOJ.

Now, full coverage of the DOJ’s WPP is now effective for the family of Carl Angelo Arnaiz,” Acosta noted.

Carls family is in good hands. PAO will continue to coordinate with the NBI on Sec. Aguirre’s directive to investigate the killing and to file cases against those who are involved here,” the PAO chief said.

Acosta said that it is the governments duty to provide protection to the Arnaiz and the De Guzman families after they reportedly received threats.

Suspicious motorcycle riders have been reported roaming within the vicinity of their homes. The residents there dont really know them. That is why we pursued to fast-track the evaluation of their application and place them in a safehouse, Acosta said.

Meanwhile, Acosta said that her legal team suspects that there is a primary crime scene where Carl was allegedly killed, leading them to speculate that the teenagers body was just dumped on C-3 Road in Caloocan City.

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 last week.

The PAO chief said it is probable that Carl’s killers threw his body on C-3 road, which she described as a dark, grassy area with no light posts on to illuminate the area at 3 a.m.

(C-3 Road) is just a secondary crime scene. The number of bullet shells recovered does not match. SOCO retrieved two, the PAO forensic team retrieved one. They are 9mm shells, Acosta said. Where are the other two?

Slugs should have been recovered in the crime scene. We didn’t even get one, the PAO chief said, adding that Carl’s body may have just been dumped on C-3 Road, but this has yet to be validated by eye witnesses.

The PAO chief said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has already conducted an autopsy on Reynaldo. She added that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) were present during the autopsy.

Acosta’s office, on the other hand, conducted a post mortem forensic analysis where it was discovered that Reynaldo died after sustaining three stab wounds.

What is mysterious, Acosta said, is that the perpetrator continued to stab Reynaldo 25 more times despite the fact the the victim had already died.

Earlier, the parents of Kian filed murder and torture charges before the DOJ against four Caloocan policemen involved in his killing – Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, Police Officer 3 Arnel Oares and Police Officers 1 Jeremiah Pereda and Jerwin Cruz of Caloocan City police station 7.

The DOJ panel of prosecutors has already summoned the policemen and set preliminary investigation hearings on Sept. 14 and 21.