‘Tisoy’ killed by 2 cell mates, QC cops say; kin blame police
The Quezon City police has filed murder charges against two jail inmates who allegedly beat to death a 22-year-old man who was arrested for being half-naked during a police anti-“tambay” campaign.
Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel, chief of the Quezon City Polic District, said Justin Mercardo and Richard Bautista were the main suspects in the killing of Genesis “Tisoy” Argoncillo inside a Novaliches Police Station jail cell on Tuesday, four days after his arrest.
The two men, alleged members of the Sputnik gang, were being held for illegal gambling.
Esquivel earlier said Argoncillo had no external injuries when inspected by a doctor, but his death certificate showed his death by “homicide” was due to multiple blunt force trauma with contusions and bruises on the neck, head, chest and upper extremities.
Both men were charged based on the testimonies of inmates Nestor Villejo, Terrence Llamac, Rolly San Jose who said the two punched and kicked Argoncillo because he was “unruly.”
One of the witnesses said Argoncillo was “running around” inside the cell, which was built to accommodate only 40 inmates but held 128 at the time.
“I helped him and used a fan to make him feel better while he lay down,” he said.
Inmates blocked cop’s view
The witnesses said the jailer on duty twice checked the commotion, but the other inmates hid Argoncillo.
The police report said Argoncillo complained of breathing difficulty and was brought to the hospital where he later died.
National Capital Region Police Office Director Guillermo Eleazar has ordered the relief of Station 4 Commander Supt. Carlito Grijaldo, the duty jailer, the staff duty officer, the desk officer and the chief patrol supervisor while an investigation was under way to determine the liability of the officers and other inmates who also may have been involved in the beating.
Sis cries negligence
Argoncillo’s sister, Marilou Argoncillo, bewailed what she believed was police negligence.
“Look what happened to my brother’s life. It was wasted because of your neglect. It was your obligation to secure him,” she said tearfully during a confrontation with police officials on Friday at the Quezon City police headquarters in Camp Karingal.
Marilou said her brother, the ninth of 11 siblings, had just bought cell phone load to watch films on YouTube, his only hobby, when he was arrested for being shirtless.
The Station 4 spot report, however, said he and four other men were arrested along Old Sauyo Road in Barangay Sauyo for alarm and scandal, alleging that they were shouting at “the top of their voice” and disturbing “the peace and serenity of the night.”
Barangay records confirmed that Argoncillo was nabbed for being half-naked, not for alarm and scandal.
Marilou said she pleaded with the officers not to take her brother to jail because he was involved only in a minor case.
“You did not listen to me,” she cried.
Marilou said she was determined to file charges not only against the suspects but also against the officers who may have been involved in her brother’s death.
CHR to visit jails
Following Argoncillo’s death, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday said it would visit jails to inspect the condition of detainees.
Law enforcers must respect the rights of an inmate, as prescribed by Republic Act No. 9745 and the UN Convention against Torture, of which the Philippine was a signatory, the CHR said in a statement.
It also deplored the mass arrest of tambay, saying that loitering was not a crime.
CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana warned the PNP against arbitrarily arresting loiterers on the mere presumption that they might be “potential trouble for the public.”
“How will you know that one person is a potential criminal merely for loitering? You cannot presume any person guilty; he must be presumed innocent first,” she said. —With reports from Melvin Gascon, Andrea Alcaraz and Julia Ornedo
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