Arnaiz slay: Aguirre tells NBI to find taxi driver
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look for the taxi driver who claimed he was robbed by Carl Angelo Arnaiz, leading to the killing by police of the 19-year-old former University of the Philippines student in an alleged shootout in Caloocan City on Aug. 18.
The death of Arnaiz came two days after police shot dead 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos during a drug raid in Caloocan City, which sparked widespread public anger over President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
In an order issued on Thursday, Aguirre directed NBI Director Dante Gierran to find taxi driver Tomas Bagcal and to investigate the circumstances that led to Arnaiz’s death.
He also ordered the NBI to investigate the killing of Arnaiz’s last known companion, 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman.
The body of De Guzman was fished out of a creek in Gapan City in Nueva Ecija province on Tuesday. His head was completely covered with packaging tape and his body bore 31 stab wounds. Aguirre said an NBI examination found only 26 wounds.
Senior Supt. Antonio Yarra, Nueva Ecija police director, said investigators were trying to find out why De Guzman was killed and how the boy ended up in Gapan.
They were also trying to establish the “original crime scene,” or where the boy was killed and when, Yarra said.
De Guzman’s body was taken home to Cainta town in Rizal province on Thursday.
The brutal slaying of De Guzman fueled public outrage over the police killings and even Malacañang said on Thursday that it was “very concerned” over the killings of the three teenagers.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said President Duterte was committed to the war on drugs, but how it was being carried needed to be “reexamined.”
The Philippine National Police is “rethinking the way it has been doing things,” he said.
He said the Palace expected the authorities to bring to justice the people behind the “disturbing” and “suspicious” killing of De Guzman.
At the justice department, Aguirre told reporters that he had ordered a search for Bagcal because the cabbie was a potential witness to the killing of Arnaiz.
Bagcal is considered a “person of interest,” Aguirre said, “because if he was really robbed, then he is a victim. But if he was not and he just made up his story, then he can be included among those [to be] charged.”
Bagcal, 54, has not been seen since he last reported for work at R&E Taxi Services in Caloocan on Sept. 3.
The Caloocan police claimed Arnaiz was killed in a shootout after he allegedly robbed Bagcal along C-3 Road in Caloocan City and fled.
The two policemen involved—PO1 Ricky Arquilita and PO1 Jeffrey Perez—have been relieved pending investigation.
Aguirre said the NBI had reported the result of its autopsy on De Guzman’s body conducted in a funeral parlor in Gapan on Wednesday.
Aguirre said the NBI forensic examination showed the teenager sustained 26 stab wounds and that the knives pierced his lungs and heart.
The examination also suggested that the killers continued to stab De Guzman even the teenager was already dead, Aguirre said.
He said he offered to place the teenager’s parents under the witness protection program. —WITH REPORTS FROM LEILA B. SALAVERRIA AND ARMAND GALANG