By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

MANILA November 24, 2022 (PNA) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said it respects the decision of a Caloocan City court which convicted a police officer in the torture and planting of evidence against two teenage boys Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman in 2017.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. (PNA photo)

“The PNP never ceased to keep track of this case since the early stages of the investigation until its successful prosecution. We respect the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Caloocan City finding the accused Jefrey Perez guilty of the charges filed against him for the deaths of Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman in August 2017,” PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said in a statement.

Azurin added that the PNP remains steadfast in its sworn duty to uphold and respect human rights in all aspects of police operations in fighting criminality.

“The decision was a result of a fair full-blown trial hence, we believe that the accused was given his day in court to present his side. Nevertheless, any acts committed by erring personnel do not reflect the views of the whole PNP organization,” he stressed.

Azurin said the PNP has always maintained its stance to uphold the rule of law in all its undertakings.

“The PNP (is ought) to shift its strategy to anti-crime and illegal drug campaign. We aim to utilize a more holistic approach to combating crimes which would involve the church and the community through our Kasimbayanan program.

However, Azurin said a zero casualty in police operation is not always possible, as they are also prioritizing the safety of their personnel which includes the need to defend themselves “when attacked or the lives of innocent civilians are on the line”.

He, meanwhile, said the protection of human rights are observed in these measures.

“We are keen on observing different approaches on our anti-crime campaign to minimize, if not avoid, armed confrontations in our police operations,” he noted.

Meanwhile, PNP Public Information Office chief Col. Red Maranan said Perez was dismissed from the service on Oct. 4, 2018.

“This has been a manifestation that the PNP do not tolerate wrongdoings committed within its own ranks and is fully committed in the implementation of its internal cleansing program. This has been a result of the quick response of the PNP on the irregularity committed by one of its personnel. This is likewise a manifestation that the PNP do not tolerate wrongdoings committed in its own ranks,” Maranan said.

In a decision promulgated Nov. 10, Judge Rodrigo Pascua Jr. of the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court Branch 122 found Perez guilty of violation of Sections 4 and 14 of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 for torturing Arnaiz and De Guzman and sentenced him to reclusion perpetual or up to 40 years imprisonment.

He was also found guilty of planting of evidence under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in Arnaiz’s case.

Perez was also ordered to pay PHP1 million in moral damages and another PHP1 million in exemplary damages, or a total of PHP2 million for each of the two victims’ heirs.

Arnaiz and De Guzman, who were suspected casualties of the drug war under the previous administration, were last seen alive together on Aug. 18, 2017 in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal. They were aged 19 and 14 years, respectively, at the time of their disappearance.

The 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 Sept. 5, 2017. It bore at least 28 stab wounds with his head wrapped in packing tape and a shirt. (PNA)