MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday assured the prosecution of two Caloocan policemen linked to the killing of teenagers Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo Kulot de Guzman in August last year.
Guevarra made the statement after Judge Georgina Hidalgo of the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 122 raised the issue of jurisdiction during the resumption of the trial of Police Officers 1 Ricky Arquilita and Jeffrey Perez Tuesday.
State prosecutors already asked Hidalgo to let them file the murder charges against Arquilita and Perez in Navotas City.
A witness for the prosecution, Joe Daniels, had earlier disclosed that Arnaiz was actually killed in Navotas, not in Caloocan as previously reported.
It's just a territorial jurisdiction issue that does not affect the merits of the case. In any event, I will look into the matter more closely, Guevarra said when sought for a comment.
The Justice Secretary pointed out even the case will not be affected even if the court itself dismissed it due to jurisdiction issues.
Any dismissal based on lack of territorial jurisdiction is without prejudice to the re-filing of the case before the proper prosecutor's office, he explained.
Perez and Arquilita are facing two counts each of murder and planting of evidence in violation of Section 38 of Republic Act (RA) 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunitions Regulation Act, in connection with the handgun found in Arnaiz possession.
The Department of Justice also filed two more counts of planting of evidence in violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, due to the shabu and marijuana found from Arnaiz, and two counts of torture in violation of Sections 4 and 14 of RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
The filing of charges against the two cops was based on the complaint filed by the parents of Carl Angelo and Kulot, which was represented by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO).
Arquilita and Perez said Arnaiz died during a legitimate police operation but they did not tackle De Guzman's death in their joint counter-affidavit.
Arnaiz and de Guzman were last seen alive together on Aug. 18, 2017 in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal. They were aged 19 years and 14 years, respectively, at the time of their disappearance.
Caloocan City police claimed Arnaiz died during a shootout last Aug. 18 when he resisted arrest and fired his handgun at chasing cops after allegedly robbing a taxi driver.
Arnaiz's body was found at Ezekiel Funeral Homes, also in Caloocan City, weeks after he disappeared.
De Guzman's body was fished out of a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija on September 5. It bore at least 28 stab wounds with his head wrapped in packing tape and a shirt. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency