Taxi driver says Carl Arnaiz held him up, claims killing 'scripted'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) — The taxi driver in Carl Arnaiz slay case confirmed the 19-year-old boy held him up.

In a press briefing with human rights group Rise Up for Life Sunday, Tomas Bagcal confirmed he identified Arnaiz as his assailant early morning of Aug. 18.

"Kasi noong pagkahuli ko, at 'yun nga, binubugbog na ng mga taumbayan na tumulong sa'kin, natanggal ko 'yung hood noon, kaya namukhaan ko po siya," Bagcal claimed.

[Translation: When we caught him, the people beat him up, and I was able to remove his hood, and identified him.]

When asked if it was Arnaiz who held him up, he answered, "Opo (Yes)."

Arnaiz was killed in a supposed shootout with police in Caloocan City, after allegedly holding up Bagcal. His death came two days after the killing of another teenager, Kian Delos Santos.

The driver claimed Arnaiz tried to shoot him but the gun failed to work. He added Arnaiz tried to hit him with the gun on the head, but he was able to deflect it with his right hand.

Bagcal said he picked up his holdupper on Navotas Highway, and turned him over to the police station on 9th Avenue in Caloocan.

Bagcal refused to answer other questions regarding his assailant, and said he will answer "in a proper venue" — a Senate hearing, or  the Justice Department.

Staged killing

When asked if Bagcal had any message to the police, he claimed the killing seemed staged.

"'Yung pagkapatay noong prinesent kong holdupper is parang may stage play o scripted 'yung pagkapatay," Bagcal said.

[Translation: The killing of the holdupper was like a stage play, or the killing was scripted.]

The taxi driver also claimed the police forced him to sign two affidavits, which state that Arnaiz resisted police arrest.

"Hindi 'yung totoong ano, statement ko 'yun eh. Ang tinanong lang sa'kin doon, 'yung pangalan, birthday tsaka edad. Saka 'yung OR/CR (original receipt and certificate of registration) ng sasakyan," he said.

[Translation: It's not my real statement. They just asked me my name, my birthday, and age. And the car's ORCR.]

Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on Sept. 4 said, "Na-pinpoint ng taxi driver 'yung suspect, so nandoon 'yung mga pulis at rumesponde. Nakipagbarilan itong suspect kaya namatay,"

[Translation: The taxi driver identified the suspect. So the police responded. The suspect fired his gun that's why he died.]

He added Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde relieved the police officers linked to the death of Arnaiz in Caloocan City.

Dela Rosa, however, asked the public to not be so quick in condemning policemen.

"Ibang-iba po 'yung kaso na 'yan [These are separate cases]. That is a case of police response," he said, explaining that police respond based on the threats they face.

No Reynaldo de Guzman

The taxi driver also said 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman was not with Arnaiz during the time.

Reynaldo was last seen in Cainta, Rizal with Arnaiz before he was found lifeless in a creek in Gapan, Nueva Ecija Wednesday with 31 stab wounds.

The Public Attorney's Office claimed de Guzman was killed to stop him from testifying in Arnaiz' case.

Read: Reynaldo de Guzman killed to stop from testifying in Carl Arnaiz case — PAO Chief

Seeking custody

In a statement Saturday, Rise Up for Life and for Rights said Bagcal has been placed under protective custody.

Rise Up said it is "a network of church people and human rights advocates primarily dedicated to working with poor families affected by drug-related extra-judicial killings under the Duterte administration."

The group said Bagcal and his family sought refuge on Sept. 4.

"Mr. Bagcal was identified by the police as a victim of a robbery case committed allegedly by one Carl Angelo Arnaiz.  Mr. Bagcal is also a potential witness in the death of the said Mr. Arnaiz," it said.

Rise Up said the request of the family for protective custody came after "Mr. Bagcal's serious discernment, soul searching, and firm decision-making."

When asked if Bagcal was receiving any threats, he answered, "Meron po [Yes I am]."

He claimed that his apartment was ransacked, and that people went to his house.

CNN Philippines Senior Digital Producer Lara Tan and Digital Producer Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.