Court may dis­miss case vs cops in teens’ slay

Judge scores pros­e­cu­tion panel for not study­ing ‘del­i­cate case’ thor­oughly, caus­ing it to be filed in wrong venue

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - METRO - By Aie Balag­tas See @AieBalag­tasSee

The mur­der charges against two po­lice­men ac­cused of killing teenagers Carl An­gelo Ar­naiz and Rey­naldo de Guz­man may be dis­missed on a tech­ni­cal­ity.

Dur­ing the con­tin­u­a­tion of the hear­ing on Tues­day, Judge Ge­orgina Hi­dalgo of the Caloocan Re­gional Trial Court Branch 122 did not hide her dis­plea­sure over the mix-up that led to the fil­ing of the case in the wrong venue.

Ear­lier, the pros­e­cu­tion filed a mo­tion to with­draw the mur­der charges against Po­lice Of­fi­cers 1 Ricky Arquilita and Jef­frey Perez af­ter a wit­ness, Joe Daniels, re­vealed last month dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion that Ar­naiz was killed in Navotas, not in Caloocan City.

The pros­e­cu­tion asked Hi­dalgo to ap­prove their mo­tion to al­low them to re­file the case in the proper court.

An ob­vi­ously irate Hi­dalgo asked the pros­e­cu­tion panel led by State Prose­cu­tor Xerxes Gar­cia why they did not bother to “study the case thor­oughly” when they knew it was a “del­i­cate” one.

Mis­take goes un­de­tected

“There are so many of you and yet no one was able to spot that mis­take,” she said in court.

Hi­dalgo, how­ever, pointed out that there was no law al­low­ing the with­drawal of a case in the mid­dle of trial. What was pos­si­ble, she added, was a dis­missal of the case “with­out prej­u­dice” so that it could be re­filed.

For his part, the de­fense lawyer, Dod­jie Enci­nas, ob­jected to a par­tial with­drawal of the charges. The pros­e­cu­tion want the mur­der charges with­drawn but not the other charges of tor­ture and plant­ing of ev­i­dence.

Ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tors, they want Hi­dalgo to con­tinue try­ing the two other cases “be­cause these of­fenses hap­pened in Caloocan City.”

Enci­nas op­posed the pros­e­cu­tion’s mo­tion and in­sisted that there was no ju­rispru­dence or pre­vi­ous rul­ings that said a crim­i­nal charge could be with­drawn in the mid­dle of the trial.

He also wanted all three charges against his clients dropped and re­filed in a Navotas court.

Prob­lem avoid­able

Hi­dalgo gave Gar­cia’s camp 10 days to file a com­ment on Enci­nas’ op­po­si­tion af­ter which the de­fense would re­ply within three days.

Enci­nas said that the prob­lem could have been avoided if the Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion or the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion and De­tec­tion Group of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice had taken charge of the probe or at the very least, as­sisted in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­fore the case was en­dorsed to the DOJ.

PAO to blame?

“In­stead, the Pub­lic At­tor­ney’s Of­fice took charge of the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion. But they’re not even in­ves­ti­ga­tors,” he pointed out.

Daniels told the court on March 2 that he saw Ar­naiz, who was on his knees, be­ing shot “on C3 Road, cor­ner Dala­gang Bukid and Tanigue Streets.”

A check with the Navotas City as­ses­sor con­firmed that the area fell “within [its] ter­ri­to­rial bound­ary.”

The deaths of the teenagers, along­side that of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos San­tos, re­sulted in wide­spread crit­i­cism of the Pres­i­dent’s war on drugs.

—IN­QUIRER FILE PHO­TOS

Po­lice Of­fi­cers 1 Ricky Arquilita and Jef­frey Perez (top) were charged with the mur­der of 19-year-old Carl An­gelo Ar­naiz.

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