A TAXI driver who claims he was robbed by 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz said the teenager was caught alive by bystanders and brought to a Caloocan City police station, contradicting police accounts that the boy died in a shootout on Aug. 18.
In a press conference late Sunday afternoon, taxi driver Tomas Bagcal said he sought the protection of a church group called Rise Up for Life and for Rights, for fear that he might be also killed by the police, after his apartment was ransacked by unidentified men.
The taxi driver said it was Arnaiz who tried to rob him and even had his finger on the trigger of the gun but did not fire.
Bagcal said he chased the thief and cornered him near a street where tricycle drivers hung out. The drivers and a barangay watchman beat the suspect, but he managed to pacify them and bring Arnaiz to the Police Community Precinct 2 of the Caloocan City Police Station.
There the police asked for his birth date, his age, and the certificate of registration of his taxi.
“I never executed any affidavit,” he said in Filipino.
But police officers insisted that he implicate Arnaiz’s 14-year-old companion, Reynaldo de Guzman, in the robbery as well, even though he said only one person robbed him.
Bagcal said he then saw Police Officers 1 Jeffrey Perez And Ricky Arquilita take Arnaiz in their patrol car to the scene of the holdup.
Another policeman—an Ilocano—got into his taxi, he said.
After the police released the robbery suspect, Bagcal said he heard a succession of shots.
The supposed shootout, he said, “was scripted.”
The taxi driver did not say if he saw De Guzman, who was found dead last week in Nueva Ecija with more than 30 stab wounds in the body.
Police earlier said Bagcal executed two affidavits.
Bagcal’s revelations came as the government and the Catholic Church fought for custody over a witness who allegedly saw the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos on Aug. 16, also in Caloocan City.
The 13-year-old witness and two other minors insisted on staying with the Diocese of Caloocan even after her father, Roy Concepcion, who was accompanied by police, tried to fetch her late Saturday.
Concepcion later had a change of heart and decided to stay at the Diocese office with his daughter, ending a two-hour standoff.
“All witnesses, if they are under the witness protection program, should go to the government,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in Filipino, during an interview on dzMM.
“We understand that the Church, of course, is the holy refuge of every church member and even those who are not church members. But our Department of Justice is merely upholding the law and due process,” said Andanar.
Andanar did not say whether the government would seek custody of the witness again.
Delos Santos was killed in an alleged shootout with anti-narcotics policemen last August.
The 13-year-old witness was among those called to the Senate to testify that Delos Santos was mauled by the officers, given a gun and told to run for his life before being shot to death.
Delos Santos was slapped and punched by one of three men when he refused to accept from them what looked like a gun wrapped in a face towel, a 13-year-old girl said in a statement submitted to the Senate.
“No, no,” the witness quoted Delos Santos as saying to the three men in civilian clothes who seized him as he was on his way home in Barangay 160 in Caloocan City on the night of Aug. 16.
The three men turned out to be Caloocan police officers. They claimed Delos Santos was a drug runner and they shot him when he fired at them with a .45-cal. pistol.
But the testimony of the girl and that of another child, a 16-year-old girl, as well as CCTV footage showing the policemen dragging the boy to where he was shot, contradicted the police account.
An autopsy, moreover, showed Delos Santos had not fired a gun, and that he was most likely shot when he was down on the ground.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo David said Saturday evening that the father of the 13-year-old witness had left the custody of the Philippine National Police and had sought the protection of the Church.
David said the witness and her siblings, two adults and four minors all in all, had sought the Church’s protection after giving testimony at a Senate hearing.
David had agreed, as long as the sibling’s legal guardians gave their consent.
The witness’ father had been in police custody because of an illegal-drugs charge and was unable to give his approval.
On Saturday, after the Public Attorney Office paid for Concepcion’s bail, he went to David’s office accompanied by a police officer and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption members and handed over a letter demanding custody of his children.
David said he had no problem with the father’s request, and prepared to turn them over to him, but when they met—and after a call to his wife in the Middle East—Concepcion declared he would leave police custody and join his children under the church’s protection.
Police and the VACC and their lawyers tried to gain their custody, but later backed down when the father remained adamant.
David said he had agreed to offer Concepcion the church’s protection because the children seemed genuinely distressed that their father would remain with the police.
“Victims of crime should go to the police, but when the accused is a policeman, who should they go to?” the bishop said in Filipino.
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