MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday took up the cudgels for the police and said that the recent killings of youngsters, including 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, were a “sabotage” carried out by those who didn’t want his pet campaign against illegal drugs to succeed.
“Silipin mong mabuti kasi…sinasabotahe kayo [Look into it closely because you’re being sabotaged],” Duterte told Philippine National Police chief Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa in his speech during the celebration of the 17th founding anniversary of Digos, Davao del Sur at the City Gymnasium.
“Sinasadya talaga ‘yan [That’s really being done intentionally],” the President said.
He said that while policemen shoot violators or might have engaged in extrajudicial killings, authorities don’t wrap dead bodies, apparently referring to what happened to 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman, whose remains, wrapped in cloth and plastic, were found last Sept. 5 floating in a creek in Brgy. San Roque, Gapan, Nueva Ecija, 19 days after he went out with Arnaiz and went missing.
“Alam mo ang pulis, magbaril ‘yan, if at all, o sabihin mo extrajudi — pero hindi nagabalot ng…That is not the job of the police to…kalokohan,” said Duterte.
According to the President, vigilance is needed because there are people cooking up something to discredit his administration.
But he said that if they would launch a massive rally to denounce the killings, the police should just let them carry out their protest.
“Bantay ka diha. May nagaluto diha somewhere to discredit us. So naa silay massive rally, hayaan mo,” he said.
Duterte says Arnaiz was his relative
The President said Arnaiz, a former University of the Philippines student, was his relative. The teenager’s father, Carlito, is from Maasin, South Leyte, where Duterte was born.
“Isa diyan sa pinatay, relative ko [One of those killed was my relative],” he said, referring to Arnaiz.
According to the police, Arnaiz died in a shootout with authorities after the teenager allegedly robbed at gunpoint taxi driver Tomas Bagcal in Caloocan. But according to forensic experts from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), it looked like Arnaiz was first tortured before he was killed.
Dr. Erwin Erfe said it appeared that Arnaiz was dragged, beaten up, and handcuffed because his bruises were deep, his eyes were severely distended, and he had many shackle marks in his right hand.
Also, according to Erfe, it appears that the scene of the crime in Caloocan where Arnaiz’s shootout with the police supposed to have happened was a “secondary crime scene” because it appears that the teenager was “just dumped” there.
He said PAO forensic experts did not see any traces of blood or bullet marks in area where the alleged gunfight took place.
A separate autopsy done by Dr. Jocelyn Cruz of the Northern Police District’s Scene of the Crime Operatives, showed that Arnaiz sustained five gunshot wounds — four in the chest and one in the abdomen — an indication that he found it difficult to fight back against his assailants.
PAO chief believes only one group killed Arnaiz, De Guzman
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta believes that only one group killed Arnaiz and De Guzman. Last August 17, the two went out together to buy midnight snack near their residences in Cainta, Rizal but were found both dead in different areas weeks later.
“Napakahalintulad nila. Nasa Cainta si Carl pero bakit sa madilim na bahagi ng C-3 Caloocan natagpuan ang kanyang bangkay? Kung si Reynaldo ay nasa Cainta, bakit napunta sa Gapan ang kanyang bangkay?,” Acosta said in an media interview on Friday.
Acosta also believes that De Guzman was killed to prevent him from testifying about what really happened to Arnaiz. The 14-year-old boy sustained 28 stab wounds, including three fatal attacks in his heart and liver.
De Guzman’s body bore torture marks, including in his eyes, and appeared to have been continuously stabbed even when he was already dead based on autopsy result, according to Acosta.
READ RELATED STORY: SHOOTOUT OR EXECUTION? | Forensic findings, witnesses’ statements clash with driver, cops’ claims on how Carl Arnaiz died
Before the two were killed, Grade 11 student Kian delos Santos died in the hands of the Caloocan police during an anti-drug operation last August 16.
He was kneeling with his face down when he was shot, based on findings by the PAO and the Northern Police District’s Dr. Cruz.
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