Court may dismiss case vs cops in teens’ slay
The murder charges against two policemen accused of killing teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman may be dismissed on a technicality.
During the continuation of the hearing on Tuesday, Judge Georgina Hidalgo of the Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 122 did not hide her displeasure over the mix-up that led to the filing of the case in the wrong venue.
Earlier, the prosecution filed a motion to withdraw the murder charges against Police Officers 1 Ricky Arquilita and Jeffrey Perez after a witness, Joe Daniels, revealed last month during cross-examination that Arnaiz was killed in Navotas, not in Caloocan City.
The prosecution asked Hidalgo to approve their motion to allow them to refile the case in the proper court.
An obviously irate Hidalgo asked the prosecution panel led by State Prosecutor Xerxes Garcia why they did not bother to “study the case thoroughly” when they knew it was a “delicate” one.
Mistake goes undetected
“There are so many of you and yet no one was able to spot that mistake,” she said in court.
Hidalgo, however, pointed out that there was no law allowing the withdrawal of a case in the middle of trial. What was possible, she added, was a dismissal of the case “without prejudice” so that it could be refiled.
For his part, the defense lawyer, Dodjie Encinas, objected to a partial withdrawal of the charges. The prosecution want the murder charges withdrawn but not the other charges of torture and planting of evidence.
According to the prosecutors, they want Hidalgo to continue trying the two other cases “because these offenses happened in Caloocan City.”
Encinas opposed the prosecution’s motion and insisted that there was no jurisprudence or previous rulings that said a criminal charge could be withdrawn in the middle of the trial.
He also wanted all three charges against his clients dropped and refiled in a Navotas court.
Hidalgo gave Garcia’s camp 10 days to file a comment on Encinas’ opposition after which the defense would reply within three days.
Encinas said that the problem could have been avoided if the National Bureau of Investigation or the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police had taken charge of the probe or at the very least, assisted in the investigation before the case was endorsed to the DOJ.
PAO to blame?
“Instead, the Public Attorney’s Office took charge of the initial investigation. But they’re not even investigators,” he pointed out.
Daniels told the court on March 2 that he saw Arnaiz, who was on his knees, being shot “on C3 Road, corner Dalagang Bukid and Tanigue Streets.”
A check with the Navotas City assessor confirmed that the area fell “within [its] territorial boundary.”
The deaths of the teenagers, alongside that of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, resulted in widespread criticism of the President’s war on drugs.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.