Remulla: DOJ to probe Degamo slay suspects' torture claims but expresses doubts

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2023 07:10 PM

Remulla says sudden recantation of 10 accused shows ‘conspiracy’

DOJ secretary Boying Remulla and Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/Governor Roel Ragay Degamo Facebook page
DOJ secretary Boying Remulla and Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/Governor Roel Ragay Degamo Facebook page

MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Thursday he has ordered a probe into allegations by some of the accused in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo that they were supposedly tortured by law enforcements agents and forced to link suspended Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. to the crime.

“We will investigate it anyway,” told reporters during a press conference.

But he expressed doubt on the veracity of the claims.

“Pero ito tatanungin ko sa inyo. Bakit gusto nila maiwan sa NBI kung tinorture sila sa NBI? I’ll ask you that. Kung talagang tinorture sila sa NBI, bakit gusto nila maiwan sa NBI? Bakit ayaw nilang malipat palabas ng NBI? So is that consistent with somebody who was tortured in that place? No. It’s an afterthought. It’s a cover,” he said.

“They just want to muddle the issue now that the case is very clear against them. And mind you, it’s not just testimonial evidence. It’s real evidence. There are other evidence to prove the case and it’s going to be proven sooner or later,” he added.

Five suspects on Wednesday recanted their allegations against Teves by submitting affidavits in court and filing petitions for habeas corpus through their lawyers to question their arrest and subsequent detention.

Five more suspects also did a similar move through their lawyers while one more accused, Marvin Miranda, did not issue any statement from the very beginning.

There are only 11 accused currently under custody.

But Remulla insisted the prosecution still has enough evidence in the Degamo murder cases.

The Justice chief also sought to clarify the effect of the “recantations.”

“The recantations are being spoken of as if they are gospel, that they would weigh so heavy in evidence, parang gospel truth na. Pero ang lumalabas kasi dyan, if you look at your jurisprudence through the hundreds of years that recantations have been talked about by all the courts throughout the world, recantations are frowned upon by the courts,” he said.

He explained that the current case could not be compared to the drug case of former Senator Leila de Lima, who was acquitted due to the recantation of former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos, which, according to the court, created reasonable doubt.

“What happened to the De Lima case does not speak of the recantations in this case. The De Lima was unsupported by, sabi nila, by any other evidence…The De Lima case is not a way of determining whether or not recantations are effectively sanctioned by the courts. Because the Supreme Court has held in so many cases that recantations are unreliable, that they are an afterthought, that they speak lowly about the kind of evidence being presented by defense lawyers. So do not make a big deal out of recantations,” he said.

“There’s an issue of perjury, for sure. Yan ang sigurado. Not reasonable doubt,” he added.

The Justice chief said they will present to the court the affidavits earlier executed by the accused.

“They swore by their affidavits about what they said freely in front of lawyers, I will stand by that. We will present that in court. We will present that and let the court decide on these statements,” he explained.

Remulla claimed money was a factor in the recantations and accused spindoctors of spinning the stories about the cases.

Specifically, he described Miranda and 2 of the lawyers representing the accused as “choreographers” of the recantations.

Rather than prove the innocence of Teves and the other accused, Remulla said the fact that the accused are suddenly recanting their earlier statements could even be seen as proof of conspiracy.

“It shows a conspiracy among the ten of them that they were really part of the conspiracy when all of them suddenly recant. It just proves our case further that the conspiracy sticks and is there. Mas malakas pa nga yung ebidensya yan na may conspiracy talaga,” he claimed.

“Sabay-sabay sila magrerecant? Sabi nila. Eh 'di may conspiracy sila na itago yung katotohanan,” he said.

Remulla said they will use the supposed conspiracy to bolster their terrorism case against Teves and his group.

“That’s a conspiracy to cover up this crime, this terrorism that happened in our country which we cannot countenance and we cannot stand for. Di natin pwede payagan ito magtuloy-tuloy itong kalokohan na ito, na pumapatay sila ng tao, ang gobyerno pa ang mali,” he said.

He however declined to discuss the timeline for the filing of terrorism charges, saying the Anti-Terrorism Council’s evaluation is ongoing.

“There’s enough documentary evidence I think that we presented to them already. There’s enough evidence presented to the ATC. But we cannot force them to follow a deadline. It’s something that we respect the ATC as an institution. Let them decide when they finally decide,” he said.

Remulla also dismissed the habeas corpus petitions filed by some of the accused before a Manila court.

A petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus is a remedy against illegal confinement or detention and directs a public official to produce a person in court and show valid reasons for his/her detention.

Some of the accused are questioning their arrest and detention while one of them, Osmundo Rivero, claimed his wife, a stepson and son are under the custody of the authorities.

Remulla said the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program only helped Rivero’s family but did not take custody of them. He added Rivero’s wife actually refused to see him.

The Justice secretary also shrugged off Teves’ new remarks against him, which were posted through a Facebook video Thursday morning.

In the video, Teves called Remulla names and accused him of using “powder.”

“It reflects his state of mind, his respect for authority, the way he thinks about our society. I think that’s self-explanatory kung anong klaseng tao siya. That’s the kind of person that many of the lawyers are defending because of the money that he has. But you can see that he does not respect our country at all. No respect for our country or its institutions,” he said.

Teves remains outside the country. Remulla on Wednesday said the embattled lawmaker is set to leave Timor-Leste where he tried to seek asylum.


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