Patrolman convicted for offences related to the ‘war on drugs’
Since Ferdinand Marcos Jr came to power, things have started to change. The new president is careful to avoid being associated with his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. For a second time, a member of a law enforcement agency is convicted. Patrolman Jeffrey Perez killed and tortured two teenagers.
Manila (AsiaNews) – A court in Caloocan convicted police officer Jeffrey Perez in connection with the 2017 murder of two young men as part of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”.
Patrolman Perez was also charged with torture and planting evidence in the murder case of Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, as well as that of 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman.
Perez was given life in prison and required to pay a sum of two million pesos (US$ 35,000) in moral damages to the families of each victim.
Patrolman Ricky Arquilita, who was charged along with Perez for the same crimes, died in prison three yeas ago of suspected viral hepatitis B.
Perez’s conviction is the second case involving members of the Philippine police. When he was in power, former President Duterte had guaranteed immunity to law enforcement as part of the violent campaign he launched to eradicate drug trafficking and drug addiction.
According to government data, the war on drugs came with a hefty price in terms of human lives, some 6,000 people are said to have died.
A court in Caloocan, a city within Metro Manila, handed down a first conviction in 2018, against three police officers.
Perez is still facing more charges filed before another a court, in Navotas, also in Metro Manila.
Circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution proved decisive. The latter showed that the police officers planted evidence (drugs and bullets) to justify the use of lethal force in self-defence, which resulted in a double murder.
As for torture, the court noted that, even in the absence of direct testimony, it is to be assumed that torture is always present in such situations.
“Clearly, the foregoing acts of the accused are indicative of unity of criminal design, joint purpose, concerted action, and concurrence of sentiments as in conspiracy,” the court said.
Perez and his fellow officer claimed that Arnaiz was killed because he reacted to being arrested by firing shots after robbing a taxi driver on 18 August 2017.
The prosecution showed instead that Arnaiz was stopped, handcuffed, beaten and ultimately killed. The same taxi driver named as Arnaiz's victim admitted that his initial testimony had been extorted.
De Guzman, who had been seen with Arnaiz in Manila before his disappearance, was found dead weeks later, in Gapan, a city about a hundred kilometres from Manila, his body showing multiple stab wounds.
So far, newly-elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has not said anything about his predecessor’s actions or about any of the ongoing court cases. His vice president, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is the former president’s daughter.
In his speeches about drug addiction, Marcos has stressed the need for education and rehabilitation rather than an iron fist.
For many, this is a tactic designed to rehabilitate his own father, the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr, whose brutal rule left a legacy that is as “uncomfortable” as Rodrigo Duterte’s.