MANILA, Philippines — Reynaldo de Guzman could no longer talk about what happened to him and his companion Carl Angelo Arnaiz.
But his body tells a story, a gory one: the 14–year-old Grade 5 student of Maybunga Elementary School in Pasig City — skinny and less than four feet tall — was brutally murdered.
He was stabbed for about 30 times. His head was wrapped in plastic, adhesive tape, and black cloth. His feet tied and covered with a sack. His body, which had burns on its side, smelled of gas, indicating that his killer attempted to set the boy on fire.
Found dead in Kinamatayang Kabayo
Gapan, Nueva Ecija police chief Supt. Peter Madria and those who helped retrieve the remains of De Guzman gave these details on Wednesday after the child’s body was seen floating in a creek called Kinamatayang Kabayo in the city’s Brgy. San Roque, which is near a highway.
Madria said a resident of the barangay heard early Tuesday morning the sound of a vehicle that stopped near the creek and somebody throwing something.
“Meron po kaming naimbestigahan na, base po do’n sa report ng testigo, bandang madaling araw po ng September 5, may narinig po silang kotse, diumano sasakyan na huminto do’n sa lugar kung saan tinapon ang bangkay,” said Madria.
Was it garbage? Vehicle stops, somebody throws something
Thinking that what was thrown was just garbage and it was still dark, the resident did not immediately go out to check what happened and just decided to approach authorities when the sun rose.
“May narinig s’yang tila parang itinapon na basura na kumalabog. Pero di n’ya ‘yon pinansin dahil nga sa gayong oras. Kaya no’ng madiskubre na… tanghali na,” said Madria.
On Tuesday noon, police found de Guzman’s body, 19 days after he was last seen alive in Brgy. San Andres, Cainta, Rizal with 19 year-year-old Arnaiz, a former University of the Philippines student, who was also killed on August 18 after an alleged shootout with Caloocan policemen.
The two teenagers just went out to buy midnight snack nearby, according to Arnaiz’s parents and De Guzman’s friends.
No clue yet, no CCTV
How Arnaiz reached Caloocan and was killed there and how and why De Guzman was brought to Gapan and died remain a puzzle among their parents.
So far, authorities have no clue on how De Guzman reached Gapan City, which is about 105 kilometers from the boy’s residence.
According to Madria, the police have not yet found a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera in areas that could give them hints on what happened to De Guzman.
“’Yon po ang pinapa-locate namin. So far, wala pa po kaming nakikita na may available na CCTV do’n sa lugar,” he said.
Flesh still intact
The police chief believes that the boy was not yet dead for long when his body was thrown in Kinamatayang Kabayo creek because his body had not yet decomposed and his flesh was still intact.
“No’ng matagpuan, hindi pa naman po s’ya ‘yong nade-decompose. Medyo matigas na rin dahil…sa tagal bago s’ya nadiskubre. Pero intact pa ‘yong mga laman n’ya,” said Madria.
He believes that De Guzman was just dead for a few hours when the resident heard a vehicle stopped near the creek and threw something there.
“Base sa tantiya ko lang po, ‘yong gabi lang din na yon, ‘yong oras na narinig na parang may tinapon nga daw po sa lugar na ‘yon,” he said.
Madria said it was possible that the boy’s killers were not familiar with the place and just happened to see the creek and threw him there.
“May posibilidad na nadaanan lang nila ‘yong lugar,” he said.
Reynaldo’s father: ’S’ya na, s’ya na’
Hours before they found their son at a funeral home in Gapan, De Guzman’s parents Eddie and Lina were supposed to go to Navotas City after receiving information that someone saw their child there.
Until Tuesday morning, Lina had a hunch that her child was still alive. In a radio interview, she said she thought that somebody was holding her son against his will and thus he could not show up.
The victim’s parents did not push through with their plan to go to Navotas after a neighbor told them about receiving a tip from a social media friend, who had a picture of the dead boy found in Gapan.
When Eddie saw the picture, he said, “S’ya ‘yan, s’ya ‘yan [That’s him, that’s him].”
He was right. When he reached the funeral parlor, he saw that the boy had a blotch on his neck and a wart on his knee similar to Reynaldo’s body marks.