Hontiveros: Conviction of cop in drug war torture, frame up of teenagers a sorrowful, partial victory

The criminal conviction handed down by the Caloocan City court against the police officers involved in former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs was a “sorrowful and partial victory,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Thursday, November 24.

“We hail as sorrowful and partial victory the verdict in the trial of erring cops responsible for the deaths of drug war victims Carl Angelo Arnaiz and ‘Kulot’ Guzman,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“To the families of Carl and Kulot: Hindi natin maibabalik ang mga anak ninyo, but I hope it eases your pain. May Carl and Kulot rest in peace,” she said.

The court charged Caloocan police officers Jeffrey Perez and Ricky Arquilita with murder, torture and planting of evidence in the deaths of Arnaiz and De Guzman who were teenagers at the time they were killed in August of 2017.

Both Perez and Arquilita were eventually dismissed from the Philippine National Police (PNP) service.

“This case shows us that state violence is not law enforcement. It shows that torture, planted evidence, and false police reports have no place in our national police force,” Hontiveros said.

“Sa kabila nito, libu-libong pamilya pa ang naghihintay ng katarungan mula sa madugong drug war ng nakaraang administrasyon. Ilan sa mga pinatay nilang mahal sa buhay, tulad rin nina Kian, Carl, at Kulot, ay mga teenagers, na punong-puno ng pangarap sa buhay. (Despite this, thousands of families are still waiting for justice from the previous administration's bloody drug war. Some of their loved ones killed, like Kian, Carl, and Kulot, were teenagers, full of dreams in life),” she said.

“They are also looking for closure...Until that day comes, we should not look away. The time for full atonement for the sins of the war on drugs is approaching,” she stressed.

Five years, she said, was too long for the families of Carl and Kulot: “Our justice system must be insulated from the politics that obstructs the fulfillment of its mandate.”

Hontiveros said she still finds it necessary that the one who ultimately gave orders for their death be held accountable.

“Justice is not served when only the foot soldiers are called to account. The whole policy of the War on Drugs must be called into question. The administration should reconsider joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) so that justice can run its course quicker,” she said.

“I am calling on the PNP to look into long term institutional reforms that will prevent officers and personnel from acting so brazenly and bding emboldened into committing such brutal crimes. Full accountability is the only way the public can once again trust the institutions meant to protect them,” the lawmaker emphasized.