Rep. Teves threatened NBI over e-sabong crackdown: official

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2023 03:48 PM

MANILA -- The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Central Visayas on Wednesday accused embattled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves, Jr. of protecting e-sabong operators in the region, backing earlier claims that the clan was allegedly involved in illegal activities. 

During the Senate committee on Public Order's hearing, NBI Central Visayas Director Renan Oliva said that the suspended Negros Oriental representative tried to intimidate him to drop the case against an e-sabong operator in Cebu.

Oliva recalled that on Sept. 20, 2022, after filing the case against over 30 individuals caught in an e-sabong cockpit, Teves and his entourage went to the NBI office to supposedly settle the case.

"On Sept. 20, Cong. Teves together with a certain Mr. Tomasino Alegro and their entourage arrived at the NBI office. The opening statement of Teves to me was that he was not connected to e-sabong activities... I was then surprised when he told me he will sue my men for stealing P7 million at that cockpit, but he will spare me from the case if I make it negative of any incoming ops in e-sabong," Oliva told the panel headed by Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa.

The NBI official said he turned down Teves' offer.

"I just laughed and told him he cannot tell me to betray my oath as law enforcement officer."

Teves was not present in the hearing. He was prohibited to attend virtually, while his location remains unknown.

Dela Rosa commented: "It's very bad. Akala ko pulis lang ang kaya n'yang takot takutin dun. Pati NBI pala."

The case that stemmed from the Sep. 16 raid was eventually quashed in court, prompting Dela Rosa to lament the alleged bribery system plaguing the judiciary.

"Ganito ang takbo ng sindikato, kapag di ko naareglo ang complainant, aregluhin ko yung pulis. Pag umayaw yung pulis, next na lalapitan yung piskalya. Kapag hindi naareglo, buhusan ko ng malaking pera yung judge na may hawak nitong kaso. I am not specifying any judge... but it is really happening in the Philippines. Yan po nag napakasaklap na katotohanan," Dela Rosa said.

According to Oliva, five months after the meeting with Teves, a case was filed against them on Feb. 28 this year before the Ombudsman for irregularity in the service of search warrant.

In the same hearing, a relative of slain Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo said the crackdown on e-sabong in the region was what allegedly angered the Teves clan. 

"Because of Gov. Degamo's report, that's the reason kaya galit na galit ang mga Teves kay gov, kasi pinatigil ang isa sa faucet of money nila," Siaton, Negros Oriental Mayor Fritz Diaz said.

"Pinatay na nga. Pinatay talaga, sobrang galit talaga, pinatay," Dela Rosa said.

The Department of Justice implicated Teves in the murder of Degamo and eight others on March 4. Teves has denied any involvement.

Earlier in the day, Teves denied allegations of sowing fear among residents in his province and defended a surprise birthday greeting thrown for him by some policemen.

Some Negrenses on Tuesday asked the Senate Committee on Public Order to intervene amid the supposed threats from the lawmaker's clan.