Cabbie Tomas Bagcal answers reporters’ question during a news conference held in Quezon City on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Taxi driver Tomas Bagcal confirmed on Sunday that it was Carl Angelo Arnaiz who robbed him in Caloocan last month, but he belied the police narrative, calling the killing of Arnaiz as “scripted.”
After more than a week in hiding, the 54-year-old cabbie finally surfaced, this time under the protective custody of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, a network of church people and human rights advocates.
In a hastily arranged press briefing in Quezon City, Bagcal said he was able to catch the robber, whom he later identified as Arnaiz, with the help of bystanders whom he said mauled the teenager.
“I brought him to the police station, alive,” he stressed, adding that he had wanted the 19-year-old Arnaiz to undergo inquest proceedings.
Bagcal positively identified that the person who robbed him was the same victim who was later identified as Arnaiz.
“When I grabbed him while he was being mauled, I was able to remove the hood of his jacket,” he said.
At the police station on 9th Avenue in Caloocan, Bagcal said police officers told him to follow them in his cab along C3 Road, but he did not know why.
“I saw someone walking ahead. Then I heard several gunshots,” he said, adding that he hid behind a nearby electric post for fear of his life. “After that, I saw that the person who robbed me was already dead.”
“But the manner that they killed him seemed staged or scripted,” he added.
The Caloocan police told a completely different story: After the robbery, Arnaiz allegedly stepped out of the cab and Bagcal “chanced upon” operatives who were then doing beat patrol.
The two police officers, identified as PO1 Jeffrey Perez and PO1 Ricky Arquilita, then supposedly traded shots with the robber, who was killed on the spot.
“That is not my real statement,” he said, referrring to his two different affidavits.
The cabbie said that, when he took Arnaiz to the police station, the police only asked for his name, age, and birthday as well as his cab’s original receipt and certificate of registration.
“The police implicated a 14-year-old in my first affidavit, but only one person robbed me,” he said, referring to Reynaldo de Guzman, who was last seen with Arnaiz in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal province.
De Guzman was found dead in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, last week, with 28 stab wounds and his head wrapped in packing tape.
Bagcal also noted that Arnaiz was not handcuffed in the police station.
Autopsy done by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), however, showed that the former University of the Philippines student had several bruises in his wrists, apparently caused by handcuffs.
A crime scene search done also by PAO led to the conclusion that the slay was staged, with no bullet tracks or slugs found at the grassy lot.
Bagcal also belied police statements that said the cops were with then Caloocan prosecutor Darwin Cañete during the patrol.
“After Arnaiz was killed, it was when that person arrived, and the cops even saluted him,” he added.
Cañete was later transferred to Mandaluyong City, claiming it was by his request.
The cabbie admitted that there had been threats to his life, with his apartment recently ransacked, which is why he sought protection under Rise Up.