Philippines’ Duterte Says Trio of Teen Killings Meant to Discredit His Regime

Felipe Villamor
170908-DRUGS-620.jpg Relatives and classmates of teenager Carl Arnaiz, who was shot and killed after he allegedly robbed a taxi driver at gunpoint, cry as they attend a Mass at the Mater Dolorosa Parish in Manila, Sept. 5, 2017.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the recent killings of three teenagers were intentional and aimed at sabotaging police carrying out his internationally condemned war on drugs.

Duterte did not offer any proof of his assertion about the successive killings of Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17, Carl Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14, last month.

“Look at the cases more deeply because you are being sabotaged,” Duterte told national police chief Ronald dela Rosa in a nationally televised speech in the southern city of Digos. “The killings were intentional.”

Duterte did not explain the basis for his allegation and did not elaborate on who was behind the supposed plot. But he insisted Friday that unnamed political opponents were out to “discredit” his regime.

The claim comes amid widespread allegations that the three boys were killed one after another by police carrying out Duterte’s anti-drug war in Manila and nearby suburbs.

Forensic investigators have said that delos Santos and Arnaiz appeared to have been shot at close range, belying earlier reports that they resisted arrest.

A closed-circuit TV camera caught plainclothes policemen leading delos Santos away, contrary to their report that a shootout had occurred. Police alleged Arnaiz held up a taxi and fought with them, but his relatives said the boy was a university scholar and not known to be violent.

De Guzman’s body was found this week, with at least 30 stab wounds. His head was wrapped in packing tape. He and Arnaiz went missing after telling their relatives they were going out for a late-night food run.

In a bizarre turn of events, the president claimed that Arnaiz was a distant relative. He did not explain.

“This I can tell you – one of the persons killed is my relative – Carl Angelo Arnaiz. He is my relative,” Duterte said. “Will I allow the police to kill my own relative?”

‘Rogue cops’

Duterte’s comments came a day after his government appeared to have a change of heart about the anti-drug campaign, saying it has forced a “rethinking” about how police were carrying out the policy.

On Friday, Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said Duterte’s administration was “one with the public” in condemning the suspicious deaths of the boys and vowed that the police would cooperate with any investigation to be carried out by any institution.

“Rogue cops, if and when allegations are proven true, have no place in an institution like the Philippine National Police and we need everyone’s full support and cooperation as we continue to cleanse its ranks,” Abella said.

More than 8,000 suspected drug dealers and addicts have been killed by police and unknown vigilantes since Duterte became president last year.

Last month, he praised police for the bloody crackdown and told them he would pardon officers if they got caught and convicted. He also frequently joked that police should make sure to kill suspects and plant evidence.

Duterte has also lashed out at the United States, European Union and the United Nations for criticizing his violent method, stressing that he was in the middle of a campaign to end what he claims is a creeping “narco-politics” in the country.


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