MANILA, Philippines — Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman went out together and disappeared until their bodies were discovered in two different places.
Now, amid investigations into the teenagers’ deaths, Tomas Magleo Bagcal — the R & E taxi driver who was allegedly robbed at gunpoint by Arnaiz in Caloocan and died during a supposed shootout with Caloocan policemen after the purported Aug. 18 holdup — can’t also be found.
Cecile Ramirez, the caretaker of the Paras Compound in Caloocan where Bagcal rents a room, on Thursday said she last saw the 54-year-old taxi driver Tuesday night, September 5, while the Senate Committee on Public Order was investigating the killings of the 19-year-old Arnaiz and 14-year-old De Guzman, whose remains were found in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija the same day.
The caretaker said that when reporters who wanted to interview the driver arrived in the compound, Bagcal was no longer in the place. After the reporters left, Ramirez said Bagcal went back to the compound at around 7 p.m. but again left.
“Baka ayaw niya lang siguro magpa-interview. Baka natakot [Maybe he just didn’t like to be interviewed. Maybe he got scared],” said Ramirez.
“Natatakot po siguro siya, naguguluhan na po siguro siya kaya hindi siya lumalantad [Maybe he’s scared and at a loss that’s why he doesn’t show up],” she added.
NCRPO chief: Bagcal not yet under police custody but ‘I’m sure he’s still alive’
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Oscar Albayalde, during a radio interview Thursday night, said Bagcal was not yet under police custody but he said he was sure that he is alive and had just transferred to another area because journalists were jostling for interviews with him.
“Ang huli din po ay di na s’ya pumapasok sa taxi company kung sa’n s’ya namamasukan. Pero I’m sure buhay po ‘yan dahil ‘yan po ang magpapatunay at magbibigay ng liwanag, linaw, dito sa kasong ito. S’ya lang po ng makakapagbigay-linaw,” said Albaylde.
[The last time I knew, he was no longer reporting to the taxi company where he was employed. But I’m sure he’s still alive because he’s the only one who can testify and shed light to this case.]
“At saka kung ako po, ang mga pulis, d’yan, I’m sure mas gusto ko pong buhay ‘yan dahil ‘yan din po ang magpapatunay kung sila ay inosente o hindi,” the NCRPO chief added.
[And if I’m among the concerned police officers in that case, I’m sure I’d like him to be alive because he’ll be the one to prove whether they are innocent or not.]
NBI ordered to look for Bagcal
Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look for Bagcal and look into the latter’s allegation that he was robbed by Arnaiz. The DOJ chief also instructed the bureau to investigate the death of De Guzman.
“Nag-issue ako ng department order just now directing the NBI na hanapin itong tao na ito, tingnan kung nasaan. Kasi if ever na magkakaroon ng posibleng gawing state witness, ay isa siya sa posibleng gawin natin,” Aguirre said on Thursday.
[I issued a department order just now directing the NBI to look for this person. Because we could possibly make him as among our state witnesses.]
He can be state witness
If it would be proven that Bagcal was indeed robbed by Arnaiz, he would be considered the victim, according to Aguirre. But if not, he would be among those charged.
“Hindi lang person of interest kasi siya ay kung siya ay talagang hinoldap, then siya ay biktima. Pero kung hindi naman, at siya ay gumawa lamang ng salaysay niya, then p’wede siya masama sa idedemanda. Kaya importanteng importante na makuha natin ang driver na ito,” Aguirre said.
If it would be proven that Bagcal lied about what Arnaiz did to him but he’s not the most guilty and was just forced to falsify his affidavit, he could still become witness and be given state protection, according to the DOJ secretary.
“Kung totoo syang napilitan lamang na gumawa ng statement puwede rin s’yang mag-apply gawa ng as long as you do not appear to be the most guilty, pup’wede kang bigyan ng coverage ng WPP (Witness Protection Program),” said Aguirre.
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