The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has welcomed the decision of the Caloocan City regional trial court (RTC) that convicted Police Officer 1 (PO1) Jeffrey S. Perez of two counts each of torture and planting of evidence against 19-year-old Carl Angelo M. Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman in 2017.
The murder case against Perez for the death of Arnaiz is pending with the RTC in Navotas City where the victim was reportedly killed. It was not known immediately if a case has been filed for the death of De Guzman.
“CHR acknowledges the court’s decision and thanks all those who worked to ascertain justice for the victims and their families,” the CHR said in a statement.
It said it conducted its own investigation on the deaths of Arnaiz and De Guzman.
It pointed out that it had issued a resolution stating that a human rights violation, by means of arbitrary deprivation of lives, was indeed perpetrated by the police.
“The indiscriminate employment of force and violence cannot be tolerated unless necessity is truly justified,” the CHR stressed.
“Lawlessness must be dealt with according to the law. This case reveals that there was indeed no legitimate police operation conducted, but a summary execution of the innocent,” it said.
It expressed its hopes that “more cases similar to this will reach the courts and that more eyewitnesses will come forward and speak out against the thousands of drug-related killings still pending investigations and trials.”
“In this regard, CHR calls on the government for a systematic pursuit against impunity by holding accountable all liable officials for possible human rights violations, including the protection of witnesses against harassment and all forms of intimidation,” the CHR said.
Case records showed that Arnaiz and De Guzman were last seen together on Aug. 18, 2017 in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal.
Perez and his co-accused PO1 Ricky E. Arquilita claimed that Arnaiz was armed with a firearm and died in a gunfight while fleeing on Aug. 18, 2017 after having allegedly attempted to rob a taxi.
Aquilita died on April 22, 2019. The cases against him were dismissed as a result of his death.
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.
After trial, Perez was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 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 De Guzman, and imprisonment “of six months to four years and two 2 months for the torture of Arnaiz.
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.”
TAGS: #CHR #PO1 Perez #Arnaiz, De Guzman