MANILA — One of the suspects in the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo has recanted his earlier statements pointing to suspended lawmaker Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. as the crime's alleged mastermind, claiming that he was coerced and tortured to say so.
Degamo slay suspect Osmundo Rivero filed a counter-affidavit and an affidavit recanting his previous testimonies before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, his lawyer Harold Montalbo said.
Montalbo said his client recanted his earlier admission of planning and carrying out the March 4 armed attack at Degamo's private compound in Pamplona, Negros Oriental that killed the governor and 9 others.
In a five-page counter-affidavit, Rivero claimed that he was coerced into saying that Teves was behind the killing.
Rivero also alleged that he was tortured into linking Teves while under police custody, adding that officers allegedly threatened to hurt his family if he did not cooperate.
Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said he did not receive any information on the alleged torture.
He also declined to comment on the Degamo killing probe.
"Baka mamaya ma-misquote ako e it might cause some negative on the investigation. Paumanhin na lang po let the investigation take its course," he said in a chance interview.
(I could be misquoted and it might cause some negative consequence on the investigation. Sorry, but let the investigation take its course.)
Meanwhile, Montalbo has also requested to reopen the murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder charges filed against his client.
Rivero's recantation came a week after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) formally filed murder charges against Teves over the assassination of his political rival.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said that 6 to 7 suspects in the slay had lawyered up and were no longer talking.
"They were provided with lawyers by some people who are paying for their lawyers who were not there before and obviously, some people are interested in the statements that they want to give and now they don’t want to cooperate anymore with authorities,” Remulla said last week, without saying if Rivero was among them.
Degamo's widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, also said that she was not surprised by the suspects' refusal to cooperate with authorities.
She expressed confidence that the cases against Teves and the other suspects behind the former governor's death would still hold up in court.
"Hindi naman po lahat ng kasong kriminal na may mga pagbawi sa kanilang mga testimony ay will end up na nasasayang lang kasi may nananalo pa ring mga kaso," Degamo told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo last week.
(Not all criminal cases that see testimonies recanted would go to waste because some of these cases still end up with suspects getting convicted.)
— With report from Mike Navallo, ABS- CBN News