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Arnaiz a robber? Impossible – mom

The parents of Carl Angelo Arnaiz have disputed reports that he robbed taxi driver Tomas Bagcal before getting killed in an alleged shootout with Caloocan policemen. File

MANILA, Philippines — The parents of Carl Angelo Arnaiz have disputed reports that he robbed taxi driver Tomas Bagcal before getting killed in an alleged shootout with Caloocan policemen.

In a press conference in Manila yesterday, Arnaiz’s mother Eva branded as “impossible” the taxi driver’s claim that it was Carl Angelo who held him up at gunpoint.

“Imposible po na magawa niya ang ganung bagay. Ni minsan wala po siyang record sa guidance. Kahit doon kung saan po kami nakatira, hindi yan nakipag-away, kahit
suntukan (He couldn’t have possibly done that. He never had any bad record in school. Even in the community where we live, he was never involved in any fight),” she stressed.

Eva also belied the police report that a sachet of shabu was recovered from Carl Angelo.

“Hindi po siya nagda-drugs. Nagsisigarilyo po siya pero hindi po siya mabarkada (He doesn’t do drugs. Yes, he smokes but he doesn’t join gangs),” she lamented.

Eva said Carl was a “simple child who was a homebody.”

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“Pag galing niya ng school, nasa bahay po siya. Hindi po yan nakikita lumabas except kung aalis o may bibilhin na importante (From school, he goes straight home. He doesn’t go out often except when he needs to buy something important),” she added.

Carl Angelo’s father Carlito, for his part, urged officials not to politicize the case of their son, saying in Filipino: “If they want to help, then just help us. All we want is justice for our son.”

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also called on a human rights group yesterday to turn over the taxi driver allegedly robbed by Carl Arnaiz to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“I appeal to those who have custody of Mr. Tomas Bagcal to give our NBI a chance to investigate this case so the truth would come out,” he said in an interview, assuring the taxi driver that he would be given protection under the witness protection program of the Department of Justice.

Bagcal has been taken into protective custody by Rise Up for Life and Rights, a network of church people and human rights advocates that is helping families of persons killed in the administration’s war on drugs.

He surfaced in a press conference last Sunday and detailed what he said was the true account of the robbery incident involving Carl Angelo.

Malacañang hopes Bagcal would tell the truth and cooperate with agencies probing the killing.

“We look forward to Mr. Tomas Bagcal’s cooperation with authorities, as he willingly expressed during his press conference. We expect the truth of the matter to be clarified and those responsible made accountable before the law,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing yesterday.

According to Bagcal, Carl Angelo indeed robbed him using a gun while they were cruising along C3 Road. When the gun jammed, he fought back and ran after the teenager who was eventually caught and beaten up by several persons before being brought to the police station.

Bagcal said the policemen brought them back to the crime scene where he heard gunshots and saw Carl Angelo fall.

Abella noted that the NBI is conducting a parallel investigation on the death of Arnaiz.

“Mr. Bagcal is vital in its speedy resolution. He is the one identified by the Caloocan police as the victim of the alleged robbery committed by the slain teenager,” Abella pointed out.

On Sunday, Bagcal disowned the statements that were attributed to him in the police affidavits and expressed belief that the killing of Arnaiz was “scripted.”

He said one of the affidavits tagged a 14-year-old in the robbery even if only one person was involved in the crime.

The 54-year-old taxi driver said he brought Arnaiz to a police station alive after the teenager had robbed him in Caloocan. Arnaiz was killed an hour later, he added.

He expressed his readiness to testify before the Senate and the courts.

Cesar Bacani, NBI-National Capital Region chief, said it is important for Bagcal to issue an official statement on what he knows about the incident. He added that his office would also monitor the driver’s statement if he appears before the Senate.

A single death regrettable

Pressed how Bagcal’s statement could affect the validity of Duterte’s claim that there are groups out to sabotage the anti-drug campaign, Abella said: “A single death is regrettable already… These deaths of teenagers should be seen with a second eye… But at this stage, we cannot speculate about whether there are saboteurs or non-saboteurs.” –Alexis Romero, Rey Galupo, Romina Cabrera

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