November 24, 2022
MANILA, Philippines – A police officer from Caloocan City has been convicted of planting evidence and torturing teenage victims Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman.
Arnaiz and De Guzman were among the thousands of casualties when former President Rodrigo Duterte waged war on drugs.
During the promulgation of the case at the Caloocan City regional trial court Branch 122, found guilty of the violation of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2010 against Arnaiz is Patrolman Jefrey S. Perez.
Perez was sentenced to a prison term of six months, as a minimum, to four years and two months as a maximum.
For violation of the same law in relation to De Guzman, the police officer was sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years imprisonment.
With regards to Arnaiz, the court meted two life terms to Perez for the planting of evidence under RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, in addition to “absolute perpetual disqualification from any public office.”
“After a careful scrutiny of the records and evaluation of the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is convinced that the prosecution was able to overcome its burden,” the court said.
The court also ordered Perez to pay the heirs of Arnaiz and De Guzman moral damages amounting to P1 million and exemplary damages amounting to P1 million, or a total of P2 million for each victim’s heirs.
“An interest at the rate of six percent per annum shall be imposed on all monetary awards from the date of finality of this decision until fully paid,” the court added.
Who were Arnaiz and ‘Kulot’?
Arnaiz, a University of the Philippines student, and 14-year-old Kulot were neighbors from Cainta, Rizal. On the evening of Aug. 18, 2017, they went out for a snack and disappeared. After 10 days, Arnaiz’s body was found at a funeral in Caloocan, while Kulot’s body was found in a creek in Nueva Ecija on Sept. 6, 2017. He sustained 25 stab wounds.
Arnaiz and De Guzman’s killings occurred just two days after Caloocan policemen in an anti-drug operation killed 17-year-old Kian de los Santos.
The court’s ruling
A witness alleged that Arnaiz was killed in a shootout after he was chased for robbing a taxi driver. However, the witness recanted his testimony and gave another version of the incident. His testimony corroborated what the eyewitness has said–that Arnaiz was dragged handcuffed from a police vehicle and shot while kneeling. The eye witness said Kulot remained in the vehicle.
“The Court holds that the foregoing narrations lead to a reasonable hypothesis that the evidence of physical torture sustained by the victims, were perpetrated by no other persons that the accused in this case,” the court said.
“All told, as police officers, [Patrolmen] Perez and Arquilita are considered agent of a person in authority; they inflicted physical torture to herein victim [Arnaiz and de Guzman], for the purpose of punishing them for a crime of robbery they allegedly committed… Hence, for the Torture of [Arnaiz and de Guzman], the court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” the court said.
The Public Attorney’s Office represents the victims’ families.
This is the second case of conviction against police officers in relation to the government’s war on drugs.