MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed criminal charges against two Caloocan policemen implicated in the killing of teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman in August last year.
In a 35-page resolution dated Dec. 18, 2017 but was released to media on Friday, the three-man DOJ panel of prosecutors, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio, found probable cause to indict Police Officer 1 (PO1) Jeffrey Perez and PO1 Ricky Arquilita for murder and planting of evidence in violation of Section 38 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunitions Regulation Act, in connection with the handgun found with Arnaiz.
The justice department also filed two more counts of planting of evidence in violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, due to the shabu and marijuana found with Arnaiz, and two counts of torture in violation of Sections 4 and 14 of RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 before the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court.
“The panel finds the same to be matters of evidence that should be ventilated in a full-blown trial before the court. For purposes of determining the existence of probable cause in this preliminary investigation, the quantum of evidence required to charge them in court has been sufficiently met in the instant case,” the resolution read.
The DOJ said examinations conducted by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) forensic laboratory showed handcuff marks around Arnaiz’s wrists and traces of bruising all over his body.
It added that a male witness, identified as Joe Daniel, also said Arnaiz was kneeling and handcuffed when he was killed by the two policemen.
In a press conference on Friday, Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. said murder charges were filed against the two policemen for killing the teens “without any danger to their lives”.
“Murder was filed because it was done in a treacherous manner without risk to themselves,” he told reporters.
Catalan said the panel cleared taxi driver Tomas Bagcal from indictment even after insisting that Arnaiz robbed him.
“The panel found no probable cause against Tomas Bagcal, considering that there were no overt acts, for his participation was not clear. So, his case was dismissed,” said the Prosecutor General.
Catalan said the panel, chaired by Victorio, would be handling the prosecution of the two policemen.
“The panel of prosecutors would be handling the prosecution of this case unless referred or endorsed by the Department to the Office of the City Prosecutor of Caloocan, in which case, the prosecutors of Caloocan will be handling the prosecution of these cases,” he said.
The filing of charges against the two cops was based on the complaint filed by the parents of Carl Angelo and Kulot, which was represented by the PAO.
Arquilita and Perez said Arnaiz died during a legitimate police operation but they did not tackle de Guzman’s death in their joint counter-affidavit.
Arnaiz and de Guzman were last seen alive together on Aug. 18, 2017 in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal. They were aged 19 years and 14 years, respectively, at the time of their disappearance.
Caloocan City police claimed Arnaiz died during a shootout last Aug. 18 when he resisted arrest and fired his handgun at chasing cops following the robbery of Bagcal.
Arnaiz’s body was found at Ezekiel Funeral Homes weeks after he disappeared.
De Guzman’s body was fished out of a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija on September 5. It bore at least 28 stab wounds with his head wrapped in packing tape and a shirt. PNA-northboundasia.com