Taxi driver in Carl Arnaiz case recants statements given to cops
Tomas Bagcal, the driver who was allegedly robbed by slain teen Carl Angelo Arnaiz, filed his counter-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday disowning his two previous sworn statements given to the police.
During the resumption of the preliminary investigation of the case, Romeo Manalo, Bagcal’s lawyer, filed the driver’s counter-affidavit saying Bagcal was made to sign the two statements under duress.
“Because I noticed that the two previous affidavits by Tomas Bagcal were attached to the joint counter-affidavit of the two policemen and we are disowning that affidavits of Tomas Bagcal,” Manalo told reporters.
Manalo said his client submitted the same handwritten sworn statement he had submitted to the Senate, which narrated the “real things” that transpired before the death of Arnaiz up to the time he was supposedly coerced to sign conflicting affidavits before the police.
According to his counter-affidavit, Bagcal said Police Officer 1 (PO1) Ricky Arquilita and Jeffrey Perez prepared his sworn affidavit and immediately signed it out of fear of being killed next.
The driver said he was contacted again by Perez on August 29 to revise a portion of his affidavit where he said “robbers.” He recounted that Perez forced him to change it to just “robber” and remove the participation of Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman in the incident.
“At sa takot ko pumayag na lang ako na ‘hinabol ang holdaper.’ At pinirmahan ko rin iyon para makabyahe na rin ako,” he said.
(Out of fear, I just agreed to write ‘the robber was chased.’ And I signed it so I could continue driving.)
Bagcal is one of the primary suspects in the death of Arnaiz, 19, and de Guzman, 14, who was found dead in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija riddled with 30 stab wounds.
The driver, together with Arquilita and Perez, is facing double murder, torture and planting of evidence under Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act (Republic Act 10591) and Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165).
In his testimony, Bagcal said on the wee hours of August 18, two men—whom he identified as Arnaiz and de Guzman—flagged down his taxi in Mariwasa, Pasig City and asked to be brought to 5th Avenue, Caloocan City.
Bagcal said Arnaiz declared the robbery at knifepoint shortly after reaching their destination and took his wallet. When the boys tried to escape, tricycle drivers in the area gave chase and seized the duo. De Guzman shouted that Arnaiz was the robber, not him.
Bagcal said he turned over Arnaiz to the police station along 9th Avenue. A few moments later, a policeman only identified as “Sir Lakay” rode in his cab and asked him to drive his taxi to 10th Avenue.
While inside the cab, the Sir Lakay told Bagcal in Ilocano: “Ayaw mo bang mabawasan ang humoholdap sa inyong taxi driver?” (Don’t you want to lessen those who rob you?)
When they went back to the police station, Sir Lakay ordered the two robbers to go inside a police car and told Bagcal to drive his cab to C-3 Highway.
Upon reaching 5th Avenue, the driver noticed he had passengers at the back of the vehicle – another police and the two robbers. They stopped along C-3 and after a few minutes, another policeman boarded the cab.
When they reached the Shell gasoline station along the highway, Sir Lakay ordered Bagcal to park a few meters away from the police mobile, where the two robbers were transferred.
Bagcal then saw the two other policemen left on motorcycle back to Dagat-Dagatan. After a few minutes, Arnaiz was brought out of the police car. While on his knees, the teenager was shot by motorcycle-riding policemen.
Bagcal said he was about 20 meters from the crime scene.
The driver was then asked to tell anyone who would interview him of the script: that Arnaiz flagged him down at the Navotas Highway, declared robbery at C-3 Highway, and the nearby police immediately responded to the incident, shooting Arnaiz while he was just walking away from the taxi.
Bagcal said the police warned him that if he did not subscribe to the script, he and his family would be put into danger.
“Dito ako sobrang takot kasi sinabihan ako ng tatlong pulis na itong script nila ang sabihin ko kung sino man ang magtatanong tungkol sa pagpatay nila kay Carl,” he said.
(I was really afraid because I was told by the three policemen to follow their script whoever would ask me about what they did to Carl.)
The DOJ investigating panel led by Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio scheduled the next hearing for October 23 for the filing of reply, and October 26 for the filing of rejoinders by the parties.
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