By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang welcomed the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to charge Caloocan City police officers for the killing of teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman last year.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing in Kalibo, Aklan, said the DOJ’s decision only proves President Duterte’s assurance to punish erring police officers.
“Patunay po ito na alingsunod sa utos ng Presidente na ‘pag ang pulis pumatay nang labag sa batas, hindi lang sila aarestuhin, sila po ay lilitisin at paparusahan (This proves what the President said that when a police unlawfully kills, he will not only be arrested. He will be tried and punished),” Roque said this afternoon.
“Pero at the same time, sabi naman po ng Presidente, kung ang pagpatay ay legal, sang-ayon sa legal na katungkulan, suportado po niya ang pulis (But at the same time, the President also said that if the killings was done in the line of duty, he will support the police),” he added.
Roque also noted the increase in the salary of police officers as promised by the President. However, the Palace official said the police have to earn their keep.
“[Ito] ay pagkilala doon sa napaka-importanteng papel na ginagampanan ng ating mga men in uniform. Pero kinakailangan po maging propesyonal sila (This pay increase is to recognize their important role but they have to be professionals),” he said.
“Kapag ang patayan [ay] iligal, litis at parusa (If the killing is illegal, there will be trial and punishment),” he added.
In a 35-page resolution, the DOJ panel found probable course to bring to court Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita for two counts of murder, two counts of torture, and three counts of planting evidence for the slay of Arnaiz and De Guzman.
The two teenagers went missing August 17 last year. Arnaiz’s body was recovered in a morgue 10 days later, while De Guzman was found 20 days later in Nueva Ecija with 26 stab wounds.
The policemen admitted to killing Arnaiz but claimed it was a legitimate police operation, saying the latter was caught robbing a taxi driver and that he had fired at them first. They, however, did not address De Guzman’s slay.
The news about the killing of the two teenagers came weeks after the death of another teenager, Kian delos Santos, also in Caloocan City.
Duterte assured the parents of Delos Santos later that month that justice will prevail and that there will be no interference in the case.
In September 2017, the President promised Arnaiz’s parents that he will pursue with the filing of cases against the policemen who killed the teenager.
“Ang sinabi ko naman (What I said was) we will protect the soldiers and the policemen no doubt about it. But there should always be the element of performance of duty and you do not kill defenseless persons,” Duterte said in a speech September last year.
“I’m sorry but I will pursue the case against the policemen and if need be, they will go to jail,” he added.
Duterte reiterated that it was not his order to kill innocent people because it is not the rule of democracy.
“Wala ako inutos na patayin mo ang bata (I did not order that the police kill the children) and even the enemy on bended knees. It’s not the norm nor rule of democracy,” he said.
“I would never, never condone or allow it,” he added