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Parents bury Kulot amid cries for justice, police doubts

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‘HE IS REALLY OUR SON’

Parents bury Kulot amid cries for justice, police doubts

LAST LOOK Wearing bulletproof vests, Eduardo Gabriel and his wife, Lina, take a last look at their 14-year-old son Reynaldo before the boy’s burial in Pasig City on Wednesday. —EDWIN BACASMAS

The body of a boy fished out of a creek in Nueva Ecija province last week was buried on Wednesday amid doubts that he was Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, who may have witnessed the killing of an alleged  robber by police in Caloocan City last month.

“He is really our son. He looks like his father,” said Lina de Guzman, wife of Eduardo Gabriel, who identified the body in a funeral parlor in Gapan City on Sept. 5 as that of his 14-year-old son, Reynaldo.

Gabriel vowed that nobody could get the boy’s body without the family’s permission.

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“We will fight for it,” he said.

For identification

A report spread on Tuesday that officers from the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) went to the wake for the boy in Cainta, Rizal province, to get the body.

But Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos explained on Wednesday that the CIDG team went to the wake only to examine the body for identification, not to get it.

When the parents refused, the team withdrew, Carlos said.

He said the PNP respected the family’s decision to bury the body, but added: “At the end of the day, we have the mandate to investigate the case, particularly who he is. He also has a family.”

Carlos said the PNP would look at the place where the body was buried and make sure it was really there—in case it would be “needed in the ongoing investigation.”

‘Missing person’

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On the request of Gapan police, the PNP Crime Laboratory conducted a DNA test on the boy’s body and returned a report on Monday that the body was not that of the Gabriel couple’s son Reynaldo.

The PNP then declared Reynaldo de Guzman a “missing person.”

The parents rejected the PNP finding and refused a second test.

Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office, said the National Bureau of Investigation had done a DNA test on the body and found that it was the couple’s son.

The boy was the last known companion of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, whom police said they killed in an exchange of gunfire after the former University of the Philippines student robbed a taxi driver in Caloocan on Aug. 18.

But the taxi driver, Tomas Bagcal, told a news conference on Sunday that he caught Arnaiz with the help of bystanders and took him to the police station on 9th Avenue alive.

Justice for victims

Bagcal did not mention De Guzman.

The body found in the Kinamatayang Kabayo creek in Gapan bore 26 stab wounds, and Gabriel said he recognized it as his son’s because of familiar marks.

De Guzman, Arnaiz and 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, whom Caloocan police shot dead in a drug raid on Aug. 16, were the latest victims in President Duterte’s fierce campaign again drugs and crime.

During the Mass held at San Antonio Abad Parish Church before De Guzman’s burial in Pasig Public Cemetery on Wednesday morning, Fr. Loreto Sanchez Jr. demanded justice for the boy and other victims of the crackdown.

Sanchez also excoriated the country’s leaders for playing politics for personal gain.

“To our leaders, I hope you avoid politicking. The campaign and the elections are over. There are now many issues we need to face,” Sanchez said in his homily.

He also urged those present to pray for innocent victims of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, saying one death in a family is a loss for all families.

“The Church will continue to advocate for the value of each life,” Sanchez said, adding that keeping quiet is cowardice.

He said he hoped the killers of De Guzman would feel remorse and turn themselves in for a “chance to renew themselves.”

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TAGS: Carl Angelo Arnaiz, drug killings, Eduardo Gabriel, extrajudicial killings, Kulot de Guzman, Reynaldo de Guzman, war on drugs
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