MANILA – Tomas Bagcal, the taxi driver whom teenager Carl Arnaiz allegedly robbed before he was killed by Caloocan police at dawn of Aug. 18, surfaced Sunday afternoon and said he turned over a suspect, whom he identified as Carl – “buhay [alive]” – to a police station in Caloocan. He was later told to proceed to C3 Road several kilometers away where, he said, he saw the suspect walking, and then heard repeated shots, after which he saw the young man dead.
Bagcal, who went into hiding as speculation arose he may also have been neutralized as a potential witness to the 19-year-old former UP student’s killing, faced reporters in the protective custody of the church-backed group Rise Up for Life and for Rights.
He said he just wanted to assure people he was alive, but declined to answer some key questions, leaving journalists with more gaps in the narrative.
Bagcal – whose two affidavits as produced by police had early on sparked fears he was being pressured to cover up for an apparent summary execution of a young suspect – was categorical about two things:
One, that he had turned over a “live” Arnaiz to police at Caloocan’s 9th Avenue Precinct but was told to proceed to C3, where the suspect was shot dead. He related that Arnaiz was acting alone, and even attempted to shoot him but the weapon misfired, that a crowd had gathered at the scene, overpowered him, and brought him to the Police Station on 9th Avenue;
Two, only one boy held him up at gunpoint, and said he recognized Arnaiz because “I was able to take off his bonnet.” He he had no knowledge of how Arnaiz’s companion that night, the 14-year-old neighbor Reynaldo de Guzman, could have also ended up dead. He never saw de Guzman that night.
De Guzman’s body – head wrapped in packaging tape, body with 31 stab wounds – was found in a creek in Nueva Ecija Tuesday (Sept. 5), a day after the Arnaiz case broke in the news. The two boys had gone out late Aug. 17 for a midnight snack and went missing. Arnaiz’s family saw his body in a morgue 10 days after, and police then claimed he was shot while fighting them after his arrest in the taxi robbery.
Rise Up said Bagcal sought their help on Sept. 4, fearing for his life amid relentless stalking by media, but more because his apartment had been ransacked by unknown people.
Was he forced to sign two affidavits, a curiosity that had prompted Sen. Grace Poe to express concern for his safety, Bagcal said: “Kasi yung una (affidavit), tungkol dun sa holdapan, kasi ini-implicate nila yung 14-year-old na kasama daw sa C3. Kaya ang sinabi ko ang “mga holdaper” — means more than one.” But, he explained, he felt guilty about lying because he was certain only one boy had robbed him.
“Pero yung dala ko dun (na holdaper), ay isa lang [I brought to the station only one robber].
He hesitated when asked if he had positively identified Arnaiz, and asked if he could answer “sa tamang [in the right] venue?
“Actually, nakita ko na naglalakad. And then a few seconds, may putok na akong narinig. So nag-cover ako dun sa poste ng Meralco. Pero in a few seconds, nakita ko, bagsak na yung naglalakad na humoldap sa akin [Actually, I saqw the boy walking. and then a few seconds, I heard gunshots, so I took cover behind a Meralco post. But in a few seconds, I saw the hold-up suspect lying on the ground].”
He was certain the hold-up man had a gun: “Opo, kinalabit n’ya yung baril pero hindi lang pumutok [Yes, he cocked the trigger],” and then, he said the robber hit him with the gun.
He was able to collar the suspect with the help of some men who were hanging out near the area, and in fact they even beat up Carl. He said he stopped them because his only purpose was to have the suspect placed in police custody and inquested.
He was surprised, however, at the next turn of events: “Yung pagkapatay nung prinesent ko na holdaper parang staged o scripted yung pagkapatay [The killing of the hold-up man I presented to police seemed staged or scripted].”
Click and watch the video report below: