Cabbie in Carl Arnaiz slay probe yields to NBI to ‘cooperate’
The National Bureau of Investigation has taken into “protective custody” the taxi driver who claimed he was robbed by Carl Angelo Arnaiz, the 19-year-old who would later be killed by the Caloocan police in an alleged shootout.
Tomas Bagcal went to the NBI on Wednesday afternoon, saying he was “very much willing to cooperate in the investigation,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Bagcal was charged with murder in the DOJ, along with Police Officers 1 Ricky Arquilita and Jeffrey Perez, by the families of Arnaiz and his companion Reynaldo de Guzman, 14.
The two teenagers were last seen having snacks near their houses in Cainta, Rizal, on Aug. 17. After being reported missing, Arnaiz was the first to be found at a Caloocan funeral home.
The Caloocan police said he was killed in a shootout with Arquilita and Perez, whom Bagcal asked for help after the teenager allegedly held him up on Aug. 18.
Forensic findings, however, noted bruises and contusions on Arnaiz’s body as well as handcuff marks on his wrists. These belied the claim of Bagcal and the police that the teenager was killed on the spot after he shot it out with the two lawmen.
But later in a press conference, Bagcal changed his story, saying he brought Arnaiz alive to the Caloocan police station after the teenager was caught with the help of bystanders. Pressed for details, the driver vowed to tell all at the “proper venue.”
A witness who has not been identified has come forward claiming to have seen a handcuffed young man believed to be Arnaiz being dragged out of a police car in Caloocan City on Aug. 18. The young man pled for his life before he was shot dead by the policemen, the witness said, adding that he also saw a young boy who might have been De Guzman inside the police car.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Bagcal’s voluntary surrender “shows that the people still trust our government agencies like the NBI.”
“You can trust us, you can depend on us,” continued Aguirre who urged the taxi driver to apply for the witness protection program.
Bagcal was accompanied by his family and representatives of the Commission on Human Rights and the advocacy group Rise Up for Life and for Rights when he surrendered to the NBI.
He said he did not see De Guzman on the night Arnaiz held him up. On Sept. 5, a body that bore more than two dozen stab wounds with the head covered in duct tape turned up at a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija.
De Guzman’s parents positively identified it as that of their son but the Philippine National Police claimed that a DNA test said otherwise.
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