Policeman guilty of torture, planting of evidence

Regional Trial Court

The Caloocan City regional trial court (RTC) has convicted a policeman for the 2017 planting of evidence and torture of two slain youths – former University of the Philippines (UP) student and his male companion.

Convicted was Police Officer 1 (PO1) Jeffrey S. Perez who was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for two counts of violations of Section 4 and 14 of Republic Act No. 9745, the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, and two counts of planting of evidence under RA 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Perez was sentenced “to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua” for the torture of then 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, and imprisonment “of six months to four years and two 2 months for the torture of UP student Carl Angelo M. Arnaiz, who, at the time of his death, was 19 years old.

For planting of evidence, Perez was sentenced to two life imprisonments in addition to absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office.

Perez was also ordered to pay to the heirs of each of the victims P1 million moral damages and P1 million exemplary damages with an interest rate of six percent per annum from the date of the finality of decision until fully paid.

The decision stated that “pursuant to Section 18 of Republic Act No. 9745, the victim’s heirs, are likewise entitled to claim for compensation as provided under Republic Act No. 7309 for an amount to be determined by the government agency concerned.”

Judge Rodrigo F. Pascua Jr. of RTC Branch 122 handed down the decision.

Perez’s co-accused, PO1 Ricky E. Arquilita, died on April 22, 2019. The case against him was dismissed as a result of his death.

In his decision, Judge Pascua said: “Be it noted, that the charges for double murder were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, without prejudice to the filing of these cases with the appropriate court of competent jurisdiction.”

Case records showed that Arnaiz and De Guzman were last seen together on Aug. 18, 2017 in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal.

Perez and Arquilita claimed Arnaiz was armed with a firearm and died in a gunfight while fleeing on Aug. 18, 2017 in Caloocan City after having allegedly attempted to rob a taxi.

De Guzman’s body, on the other hand, was found on Sept. 5, 2017 in a creek in Kinabayuhan in Gapan City with a packing tape wrapped around his head and his body bearing around 30 stab wounds.

The decision stated that seven charges, including murder, were filed against the two policemen on Jan. 19, 2018 but the prosecution, on April 12, 2018, withdrew the murder charges which was granted by the court.

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said the cases of Arnaiz and De Guzman were among the first torture cases filed by her office with the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the administration of then President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

TAGS: #EJK #PAO #Arnaiz #De Guzman