PART 2: After five years, DOJ finds petition of Arnel Cruz and Ram de Vera "meritorious"

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Arnel Cruz, 35 (left), is a radio disc jockey and Ram de Vera, 32 (right), is a stylist appearing in a regular TV show. During the latter part of the interview, Arnel said: "So ngayon ang naririnig ng mga tao, side namin. Alam ko magsasabi din sila ng side nila, hindi ko sinasabing mali yun, dahil meron kanya-kanyang kwento iyon. Ngayon pag lumabas na nga sa...nagtuloy-tuloy na yung kaso, dun natin malalaman yung katotohanan." Inset: The Gutierrez brothe


THE AFTERMATH. In the years since 2005, Richard Gutierrez went on to become GMA-7's biggest star and, thus far, has topbilled 11 primetime series of the network and appeared in 16 movies produced by the network and other film outfits.

His brother Eduardo "Rocky" Gutierrez, Jr. went on to do support and contravida roles in GMA-7 shows, the latest of which was Machete.

What's left of Arnel Cruz's wounds is a tiny scar on his left eyelid, plus a broken nose, which affects the way he speaks today.

At the time of the beating, Arnel worked as a disc jockey in an ABC5 radio station. Today, he still works as a disc jockey, but in a different radio station that he would rather not name.

Following that violent incident, he said, many things in his work changed: "I have to recreate everything. I have to change my voice because, for a while, I found it very nasal...

"I stopped, I left ABC5. E, that was my station at that time, and I stopped because my voice was different.

"And then the station reformatted, hindi na bagay yung boses ko, e. They became Dream FM, so it was very cool and calm."

Actually, he added, his life as he knew it changed.

Arnel recounted, "Siguro nung simula, mahirap, mahirap mag-adjust. Kasi, nabago lahat, e. Nagbago lahat, nag-iba ang mundo ko.

"Kinailangan kong baguhin ang tingin ko, kailangan kong baguhin ang sarili ko—dahil iba na ang tingin ko sa mundo, iba na ang tingin ko sa sarili ko, iba na tingin ko sa mga tao.

"Tumigil muna ako mag-trabaho para mag-isip.

"Dahil hindi ko alam ano nangyayari. Hindi ko kayang magtrabaho at [sabay] merong mga kakausap sa akin tungkol sa kaso, tungkol sa mga nangyayari.

"So ako, ginawa ko na lang, binago ko lahat [pati] pag-iisip ko.

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"Siguro sa awa ng Diyos, naging maganda ang buhay ko.

"Maganda in a way na may trabaho na uli ako—trabaho na gusto ko, na tahimik na uli buhay ko, na nakapag-move on na ako, wala ng takot masyado."

Despite his bulky frame, Arnel said that he had never been involved in any form of brawl before that night. He admitted that the mauling traumatized him.

"I can't even watch Manny Pacquiao fights," he said.

"That's my personal thing now. I can't watch someone get hit in the face.

"Hanggang ngayon, aminado ako na hindi ako makapanood ng palabas sa TV na makikita ko may binubugbog. Up to this time, I can't watch anything..."

For his part, Ram de Vera, following the beating he got on the early morning of January 30, 2005, admitted submitting himself to "therapy."

The former Rustan's personal shopper and club promoter recalled: "I had to leave Rustan's.

"I can't go back right after the incident, kasi nga, my face was basag din.

"After that, I left. I'd rather stay home.

"I can't go inside a public bathroom alone, with my back turned on a lot of people. I can't go out to clubs anymore.

"Nakakaloka, so it was that bad.

"I mean, in my line of work, dealing with a lot people, a lot of crowds, partying in a sense... It's really hard for me."

He added that it took him a while to reach his "new normal."

These days, aside from going back to being a club promoter, Ram is also the current on-cam stylist of Lifestyle Network's FASH: "Naka-recover na ako. In a sense, nag-move on na."

There were some occasions in the past when he would bump into Richard and other members of the Gutierrez family. He would sometimes see Ruffa and Raymond Gutierrez in fashion events.

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As Rammel put it, "Maliit lang ang mundo at hindi magkakaiwasan. Pero some friends would warn me kung nandiyan sila."

There was an instance when he, Arnel, and the same lady friend who was with them on the night of January 30, 2005, found themselves seated beside Raymond, Richard, and the latter's then-girlfriend in a movie house in Greenbelt.

"It was awkward. Gusto kong tumalon sa lemonade [na iniinom ko]!" exclaimed Ram.

In Arnel's case, save for one occasion when he and Richard boarded the same elevator, there were no more chance encounters.

He said that, even after the incident, he really has made "no judgement" on Richard and Rocky: "We don't move in the same circles. I don't know them personally. I don't know anything about them outside TV."

THE RESOLUTION. Five years after the incident, the petition of Arnel and Ram has been deemed "meritorious" by the Department of Justice.

Three major reasons were cited in the DOJ Resolution:

First, the injuries sustained by Arnel and Rammel were considered "eloquent proofs."

Second, the "denial and alibi" of Richard and Rocky that they were not physically present at the time the incident was taking place was "destroyed by his [Richard's] own admission when he was interviewed by 'S-Files' that he saw the incident, an alleged 'rumble' and 'gulo' and that he was part of the incident as a peacemaker."

Third, on the charge of malicious mischief, "the evidence on record shows that the respondents were actuated by hate, revenge and ill motive while in the act of inflicting damage to the vehicle of complainant Cruz."

MOTIVES FOR SPEAKING TO THE MEDIA TODAY. The Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP.ph) asked: Are Arnel and Ram aware that the public may question their motives for granting an interview to select media outfits at this time?

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Arnel answered this straight: "Wag na natin dagdagan ng sensationalism o malisya.

"Sa akin, hindi ako lumabas para maghanap ng awa.

"Hindi ako lumabas para maghanap ng kakampi.

"Ang gusto ko lang, [masabing]—'Oo, totoong tao ako; oo, ito ako; oo, may kaso kami.'

"Para lang alam nila, dahil yun nga, hindi naman ako lumalabas sa TV, e. Para lang alam nila, 'A, siya yun.'

"Dahil nga nung nangyari yung dati, hindi ako handa, e. Hindi ko ini-expect na magiging ganun yung reaction ng tao sa akin nang lumabas ako.

"Ngayon, alam ko na paano ko haharapin lahat."

PEP asked: What happens when he comes face to face with the persons who he says punched him repeatedly?

Arnel answered: "Siguro nga dahil nag-move on naman na ako, meron din naman siyang mga pinagdadaanan sa buhay niya.

"Lahat tayo nagkakaroon ng problema. Never kong ginusto o dinasal na magkaroon ng masama sa kanya.

"Siguro nga, sa awa ng Diyos, dahil busy nga ako sa trabaho ko, hindi ako masyado makapanood, hindi ko siya madalas makita. Pag meron man, lipat na lang."

"IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY." Marie Lozano ofTV Patrol asked: What if this interview gives the public the impression that they're just after the money?

Arnel's answer: "Well, like we said kanina, nagkaroon na ng mediation [sa civil case]. Nagsabi na kami and nag-usap na kami...and lumabas na hindi kami magkasundo [sa terms ng settlement]. So, okay, ito na lang.

"Ang sa akin lang naman kasi—justice, it's just really justice.

"Dahil alam ko kung ano nangyari sa amin, alam ko kung ano nangyari sa akin, alam ko kung ano dinaanan ko.

"Alam ko mapa-publicize 'to, alam ko lalabas—pero hindi malalaman ng ibang tao kung ano ang nangyari sa amin kung hindi ako magsasalita.

"Kasi puwedeng kuwento ni ganito, kuwento ni ganyan, sabi ng kaibigan ng kaibigan ni ganito or sabi ng kaibigan niya, o puwedeng kuwento niya nang minsang makita niya na magpunta siya sa mall.

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"At least ngayon, mas gusto kong lahat sa akin manggagaling. Yun lang yung point, e.

"Hindi siya tungkol sa pera.

Elaborating, Arnel said: "I keep saying that it's not always about the money.

"Kung una, pera lang 'to, [e di] sana nung una, natapos na. Napag-usapan na noon pa.

"Noon pa dapat nangyari yun. Pero hindi, e."

He stressed that his big reason for opening up today is to be able to tell his story his way: "Gusto kong lahat sa akin manggagaling."

Arnel, who comes across as a serious fellow, hails from Bulacan. His family is not affluent, he said, but they live comfortably.

In his words, "Kung baga, mabait naman sa akin ang Diyos, hindi ako naghirap.

"Dun sa apat na taon na yun, hindi ako naghirap, hindi ko kailangan gumawa ng masama, hindi ko kailangan manakit sa ibang tao.

"Hindi ako nagpaparinig. I'm making it clear, hindi ako nagpaparinig—sinasabi ko [lang] yung sa akin. Na ito ang nangyari sa akin.

"Natutuwa naman ako at mabait sa akin ang Diyos, may trabaho akong maganda, buo pa pamilya ko, wala kaming problema, hindi kami kailangan umutang, hindi kami kailangan magbenta ng kung ano mang ari-arian para lang mabuhay.

"So, hindi lang siya tungkol sa pera."

Ram said the same thing goes for him. The stylist, who hails from the south and has a light and easy air about him, told PEP: "May bumalita dati na scion ako [of a wealthy family].

"Nakakaloka, ano ba yun? Sana nga, totoo!"

He added that he actually called his grandmotherto ask if he was coming into money that she hadn't told him about. The answer, he said laughing, was no.

SETTLING OUT OF COURT? Marie Lozano of TV Patrol asked: What happens if the Gutierrezes ask to settle the case out of court in the end?

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Arnel paused for several minutes before replying: "I don't know really. I don't know."

He added, "You may not learn how to forgive because you may never learn how to forget.

"It's never easy to forget something.

"Parang sugat, nagkaka-peklat ka, e. Pag nagka-peklat ka, maaalala at maaalala mo 'yan."

Revenge was never his motivation in pursuing the case, Arnel wanted to make clear.

"Hindi ako naghahanap ng katarungan na wala sa batas. Hinahanap ko lang katarungan na nasa batas.

"Katunayan, katarungan, kung ano ang nandoon, kung sa tingin ng husgado, sa tingin ng judge na meron, o dahil lumabas sa mga ebidensya namin na meron ngang nangyari, 'di ok.

"Kung sabihin nilang hindi, tatanggapin namin. Handa naming tanggapin yun, e.

"Hindi siya deep-seated anger that needs some revenge... [or] something like that...

"It's really 'Let's bring out the truth.' For the longest time, 'yan ang hinihingi ko talaga," Arnel said.

Arnel and Ram also revealed that they have not talked to each other about the incident again until this interview.

Arnel also mentioned that he still uses the same Mitsubishi Pajero that was wrecked on the night of January 30, 2005, but that he seldom thinks now about the blood and the blows.

"It's not something I would like to carry for the rest of my life. I have moved on," the disc jockey said, adding that he has now begun work as a creative and culinary consultant in a restaurant.

"Kahit gaano ko ibaon, kahit gaano ko kalalim ibaon, kahit na ano, lalabas at lalabas iyan.

"So, naniniwala pa din talaga ako sa hustisya sa Pilipinas," Arnel said.

CLICK HERE to read Part 3.


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