Duterte: Killing of teens, including relative Carl Arnaiz, a sabotage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said the brutal killings of teenagers are meant to sabotage the police's anti-drug and anti-crime campaign, and one of the victims is his relative.

"So, meron diyan naga-sabotahe, at itong masasabi ko sa inyo…Isa diyan sa pinatay, relative ko (So there really is someone doing sabotage. And this I'm telling you, one of those killed is my relative)," Duterte said at the anniversary celebration of Digos City, Davao del Sur.

He asked his special assistant Bong Go for the name of his relative who had been killed. Go then said, "Carl Arnaiz," the 19-year-old student killed in what the police said was a shootout in Caloocan City.

Duterte told Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa to watch out for  groups trying to sabotage the anti-illegal drug operations through the killings of teenagers.

"Silipin mong mabuti kasi…sinasabotahe kayo. Sinasadya talaga 'yan (Watch out carefully because you are being sabotaged. Those were intentional)," Duterte said.

Arnaiz's death came two days after the killing of another teenager, Kian delos Santos, in an anti-drug operation also in Caloocan City. Police said 17-year-old Kian, a Grade 11 student, was a drug courier.

Three weeks later, the body of Arnaiz's 14-year-old friend, Reynaldo de Guzman, was found in Gapan, Nueva Ecija.  It had 31 stab wounds, his face covered with packing tape and cloth. De Guzman was last seen alive with Arnaiz on the night his friend was shot dead.

'Malignant elements'

Malacañang on Saturday said narco-politicians and drug lords are conspiring to sabotage the government's efforts to fight drugs and crime.

"The President's campaign against illegal drugs has adversely affected many, including powerful narco-politicians and deep pocketed drug lords who flourished prior to this administration," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

"It should not come as a surprise that these malignant elements would conspire to sabotage the President's campaign to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs and criminality, the centerpiece program of the administration," he said.

He added, efforts to discredit the drug war "include creating scenarios stoking public anger against the government."

'Distantly related'

In a text message, Go said Arnaiz's father, Carlito, revealed he hails from Maasin, Southern Leyte, hometown of the President's mother, Soledad Roa-Duterte.

"There is an assumption that the Arnaiz family is distantly related to the Roas," Go told CNN Philippines.

The President met with the Arnaiz family on Wednesday, and ordered Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to handle the case.

Arnaiz, a former University of the Philippines Diliman student, was killed on Aug. 18 after allegedly holding up a taxi driver.

'Blaming the opposition'

Detained Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, on Saturday slammed the President for his "spin."

"As if his drug war was all compassionate, caring, peaceful, and harmonious, he is now blaming the murders he has ordered en masse on the opposition," De Lima said in a statement. "He re-angles the murders he has sanctioned as sabotage."

De Lima said she does not believe Duterte and Arnaiz are related, and even if they are, the fact cannot bring the dead back to life.

"Mr. President, the fact that Carl Angelo is your relative, even if it is true, and I doubt it, does not mean you didn't order his murder. It only means you really don't care who is killed in your drug war," she said.

The detained senator added a spin cannot bring "13,000 people - children, teenagers" killed in the drug war back to life.

Government data show over 3,400 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since July last year, but human rights groups claim there could be up to 13,000 casualties.