Rep. Teves eyed among masterminds in Degamo killing, says DOJ

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 27 2023 01:36 PM | Updated as of Mar 27 2023 10:05 PM

Embattled Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., who the Department of Justice (DOJ) identified as an alleged mastermind in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo. ABS-CBN News file photo
Embattled Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., who the Department of Justice (DOJ) identified as an alleged mastermind in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo. ABS-CBN News file photo

MANILA (UPDATED) — Suspended Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. is considered one of the masterminds in the assassination of the province’s governor Roel Degamo and 8 others, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Monday.
“I think they’re considered—they’re being considered as masterminds but I don’t know yet. I have to get into the panel of prosecutors. But right now, the way it’s progressing, that’s the direction we’re heading,” Remulla said, noting that they are looking at 2 or 3 masterminds in Degamo’s slay.
Remulla also said former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, the younger brother of the embattled congressman, might also be implicated in the Degamo case following the raid in his sugar mill over the weekend.

Several high-powered firearms, ammunition, and explosives were recovered from former governor Teves’ 50-hectare compound in Barangay Caranoche, Santa Catalina town from Friday to Sunday.

“It is possible, we will look at all the facts in the best way possible so that we will see the participation of people, and we will see also from what we have right now how the statements given by the suspects jive with the facts we have discovered,” Remulla said.

Remulla said the suspects arrested in the Degamo case claimed to have seen the manufacture of the explosives found during the raid.

“Well, this is used for terrorism, used for assassination, to create havoc, to kill people, nakita niyang ginagawa niyan, and yung gumagawa noon that he said, yung gumagawa noon was part of the people arrested also, na kasama sa mga sumurrender,” Remulla said.

(He said he saw it being made and the maker was among the people arrested, those who surrendered.)

Remulla said the younger Teves would undergo preliminary investigation as he assured that all the rights of everyone tagged in the case would be respected, including their right to due process.

“We have to respect the rights of people. He has to undergo preliminary investigation for this. So we will look. I have no copy of the warrant, I have no copy of the proceedings leading to the warrant but we’ll see,” Remulla said.

Atty. Ferdie Topacio, the legal counsel of Rep. Teves, said although they expected Remulla's pronouncements, they hoped that he would refrain from making any comments about the case, especially since they have yet to find conclusive evidence linking the congressman to the death of Degamo.

"It is nothing new kasi umpisa po noong napaslang ang gobernador Roel Degamo, umpisa pa po noong day 1, practically parang itinuturo na Congressman Teves na utak dito," he told Teleradyo.

(It is nothing new because the moment Gov. Roel Degamo was killed, from Day 1, practically they are pointing at Congressman Teves as the mastermind.)

"Eh bakit hindi na lang magsalita kapag sigurado na? Bakit simula’t sapul ang itinuturo nila ay sina Teves," Topacio added.

(Why don't they just speak up about it once they're sure? Why do they keep on accusing the Teveses?)

For Topacio, the pronouncements of Remulla, as secretary of justice, may affect the investigation.

"Hindi ba iisipin nila (prosecutors) na sinabi na ni Secretary na may kinalaman ang mga Teves sa mga patayan na ito, hindi naman kami pwedeng magdesisyon ngayon na wala pala silang kasalanan, mapapahiya ang aming bossing," he said.

(Won't the prosecutors think that since the Secretary has already said the Teveses are involved in these killings, then we cannot decide that they are not at fault, since it will be an embarrassing for our boss.)

"‘Yan po, nakakatakot ‘yang mga pronouncements na ‘yan. Sana naman po, umaapela kami kay Secretary Remulla, alam naman po niya ‘yang ganyang function ng DOJ, sana hanggang sa point na mayroong kaso sa hukuman, ‘wag muna magsasalita nang mga ganyan," Topacio also said.

(That is scary, those kinds of pronouncements. We hope, we are appealing to Secretary Remulla, he knows the function of DOJ, I hope he refrains from making any statement until a case is filed in court.)

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The elder Rep. Teves has yet to return to the Philippines even after he was suspended for 60 days by the House of Representatives due to his continued absence from work, despite the expiration of his travel authority on March 9.

The lawmaker's camp cited threats to his safety and security as reasons for his reluctance to come home.

But President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., citing intelligence reports, earlier said there were no threats to Teves’ life, and urged him to come home and face the charges against him.

Aside from being implicated in the Degamo killing, Rep. Teves is also facing murder charges over the 2019 killing of former Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog, as well as complaints of illegal possession of firearms.

Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) chief legal officer P/Col. Thomas Valmonte said the younger Teves would also face charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives following the recent raid on his property.


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