Navotas Regional Trial Court Branch 287 sentenced police officer Jefrey Sumbo Perez on March 13, 2023, to “reclusion perpetua” with up to 40 years in prison for the 2017 murders of 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman. In November 2022, the Caloocan District Court 122 already held Perez accountable for the torture of the two teenagers. Perez must also pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The decision in Perez’s case is only the second murder conviction in the fight for justice for victims of extrajudicial killings in relation to the “war on drugs.” Perez’s colleague, Ricky Arquilita, was also charged with the two murders, but he died in prison in April 2019.
Previously, in 2018, a Caloocan court convicted three police officers for the murder of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos.
Between January and July 2022, 321 police officers were formally charged for killings during anti-drug operations, 233 people were referred to the Philippine National Police disciplinary board, four officers were suspended and 229 were acquitted.
Carlos Conde from the Human Rights Watch affirmed that the protracted and inadequate prosecution of crimes in the “war on drugs” emphasizes “how broken the criminal and judicial system is in the Philippines and highlights the need for thorough and honest investigation and prosecution.” In addition, Conde said that the Philippine government will try to use the conviction as a justification that the Philippine justice system is working.
Photo © Raffy Lerma