MURDER charges were filed on Tuesday before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 3rd District, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. and five others in connection with their alleged involvement in three separate killings that took place between March to June 2019.
Teves and his secretary, identified only as alias “Hannah Mae,” were charged with three counts of murder, while his corespondents Richard Cuadra, Jasper Tanasan and Rolando Pinili were charged with two counts of murder; respondent Alex Mayagma was charged with one count.
The filing was initiated by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), which conducted the investigation on the killings that took place on March 25, May 26 and June 23, 2019.
One of the victims in the killings was former provincial board member of Siaton town, Oriental Mindoro Miguel Lopez Dungog, who was felled on March 25, 2019 in front of the Siliman Medical Center in Dumaguete City.
The two other victims were identified as Lester Pialgao Bato and Pacito Libron.
Lawyer Levito Baligod, counsel for the families of the victims, said among the witnesses who executed the affidavits against the respondents were members of the assassination team allegedly hired by the lawmaker to carry out the killings.
“They were summoned by, allegedly they were summoned by Congressman Teves, gave them the instructions to assassinate these victims and they provided other details about the killings,” Baligod said. “So, I was convinced of the credibility of these witnesses. That’s why I helped the families filed the complaint with the CIDG,” the lawyer added.
The witnesses said political rivalry was the main reason for the killings. One of the witnesses, according to Baligod, even worked for Teves for 12 years.
The witnesses have yet to enter the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ but are now in the safekeeping of authorities.
Asked why the complaint was filed only now, Baligod said the witnesses actually surfaced three weeks ago and have been under investigation by the PNP-CIDG.
Baligod denied that the filing has anything to do with ongoing efforts to unmask the mastermind behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and other civilians last Saturday.
Teves has denied any involvement in the killing of Degamo, but said he would not be surprised if he and his brother Pryde Henry Teves would be implicated in the crime. The Teveses are known political rivals of Degamo.
Pryde Teves lost his petition in the Supreme Court, where he tried to reverse the September 1, 2022 ruling of the Commission on Elections. The Comelec declared a certain Grego Ruel Degamo a nuisance candidate in the gubernatorial race in Negros Oriental in the May 2022 elections.
As a result, the poll body ordered that the 49,953 votes obtained by Grego be credited in favor of Degamo, bringing the latter’s total votes to 331, 727.
Subsequently, the Comelec annulled Teves’s proclamation as provincial governor since his total votes of 301,000 was lower than Degamo’s votes.