Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Guillermo Eleazar ordered on Friday, May 28, the speedy resolution of the case involving a young man with autism who was shot dead by a policeman during a “tupada” (illegal cockfight) raid in Valenzuela City.
Eleazar urged the public to allow the investigators of the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to do their probe and come up with their findings on the May 23 killing of Erwin Arnigo. This, after two new witnesses surfaced to shed light on the incident.
Eleazar said he received word that Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian had found a witness who claimed that there was no gun scuffle at the time that the 18-year-old Arnigo was shot by Senior Master Sergeant Christopher Salcedo, a member of the local police station.
This contradicted the Valenzuela police’s position that Arnigo tried to grab the handgun of the accused policeman which resulted in the boy’s shooting.
In a Twitter post on Thursday, Gatchalian said the new witness was among those apprehended by the police during the raid on May 23.
According to Gatchalian, the new witness claimed that “there was no scuffle between [Arnigo] and the policeman,” and that the shooting incident happened “a few meters away” from the tupada site.
The family of Arnigo previously slammed the policeman involved in the raid as they claimed the cop allegedly shot the victim in a nearby homeowner’s office before dragging his body into the cockfight area.
However, Gatchalian was quick to add that the new witness was “very adamant” in saying that the incident “was accidental” because “he saw the reaction of the officer after the shooting.”
As this developed, Eleazar said he also met with another witness, a male observer who saw the killing. The second witness allegedly sought the assistance of journalists to meet with Eleazar to relay his version of the incident.
“Siya mismo ang nag-request na makausap ako para sabihin kung ano ang nakita niya at ‘yong mga nasaksihan niya ay tumutugma sa mga pahayag ng panibagong witness na sinasabi ni Mayor Gatchalian (He was the one who requested to meet me and reveal what he saw which matched the accounts of the new witness presented by Mayor Gatchalian),” Eleazar said.
“Pero minabuti natin na i-turn over siya sa NBI upang maiwasan ang anumang pagdududa sa isinasagawa naming imbestigasyon (However, we decided to turn him over to the NBI so as to prevent any suspicion in the conduct of our investigation), he added.
Eleazar said that he personally called up NBI Director Eric Distor in this regard. “I don’t want to preempt the investigations being conducted on the case, particularly that of the NBI,” he said.
“We will accept and abide by any findings of the NBI and of the IAS in the case. In the meantime it would be prudent to wait for the outcome of the investigations being conducted,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PNP chief commended the two witnesses who came forward to give their statement on the incident, noting that this will help the investigators determine the truth behind Arnigo’s death.
The family of Arnigo has reportedly expressed interest to allow only the NBI to handle the case.
But Eleazar directed the IAS to conduct a thorough probe on the incident to determine if there were procedural lapses committed by the Valenzuela policemen that could have contributed to the teenager’s death.
Salcedo has already been disarmed and placed under restrictive custody as a matter of investigative procedure.