Conviction of Arnaiz, Kulot killers only 2nd win, shows need for ICC probe — Bayan Muna
MANILA, Philippines — A group has insisted on the need for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into the drug war, as the recent guilty verdict against police officers involved in killing two teenagers marks only the second time anti-narcotics cops were convicted.
Party-list group Bayan Muna emphasized this on Wednesday, responding to the Navotas Regional Trial Court decision convicting Pat. Jefrey Perez for two counts of murder for the death of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman during a drug war operation in 2017.
Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares stressed that the conviction of Perez does not minimize the fact that it is only the second conviction — after three police officers were found guilty of killing Kian delos Santos in 2018. Delos Santos was killed just two days before Arnaiz and Perez were neutralized.
READ: 3 policemen guilty of killing Kian delos Santos — court
“This conviction does not in any way detract us from our assertion that the justice system in the Philippines is inhospitable to human rights prosecution. Thousands of families continue to wait for justice years after their loved ones were brutally executed in ex-president Duterte’s drug war,” Colmenares said.
“The prosecution of a few cases against low-ranking policemen in the thousands of killings is proof that genuine investigation of the [ICC] is necessary for the families to achieve justice. In fact, Duterte remains unscathed from any genuine investigation and prosecution. We will continue to pursue the crimes against humanity case against Duterte and his subordinates in the ICC,” he added.
READ: Caloocan cop found guilty for ‘drug war’ deaths of two teens
Colmenares, however, still welcomed the said development, thanking the presiding judge for arriving at that decision.
“While it’s true that justice delayed is justice denied, we are still glad that the families of Arnaiz and Kulot received initial justice. It was mainly through public outrage and protest that the government was forced to prosecute this case,” he noted.
“We commend Judge Romana Lindayag del Rosario of the Navotas Regional Trial Court RTC for convicting the accused for the gruesome murder of Arnaiz and de Guzman We also call on their families as well as families of the other victims to continue the battle for justice and genuine justice system reforms in the Philippines,” he added.
In August 2017, the bodies of the two teenagers were found in different areas — Arnaiz at a funeral in Caloocan City, and de Guzman, in a creek in Nueva Ecija. Both hailed from Cainta, Rizal, and went out on the evening of August 18, 2017, just to buy snacks.
Both disappeared after that night.
READ: Parents of Carl Arnaiz urge DOJ to quickly resolve murder case vs cops, cabbie
Aside from Perez, another police officer in Pat. Ricky Arquilita was also accused of murder. However, Arquilita died in detention.
Perez was also previously convicted for violating Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2010 for the same incident and was sentenced to serve a jail time of six months as a minimum, up to four years and two months as a maximum in the case involving Arnaiz.
For violating the same law in relation to De Guzman, Perez was sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years imprisonment.
READ: Court finds cop guilty of torturing teens, planting evidence during drug war
The lack of convictions for alleged extrajudicial killings in the anti-drug campaign has propelled critics of former president Rodrigo Duterte to call for an ICC probe. Through prosecutor Karim Khan, ICC has allowed the resumption of the investigation on the crime against humanity complaint versus Duterte.
However, incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. maintained that an ICC probe would be an intrusion to the country’s sovereignty. With reports from MJ Soriano, INQUIRER.net trainee
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