PNP probes absence of Degamo security on day gov was killed  


Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. on Monday said the five security escorts of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo have been asked to explain their absence on the day that the provincial chief executive was killed by armed men who broke into his compound.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier asked the Philippine National Police to investigate the absence of the five out of the six police security of Degamo on March 4, the day the armed men swooped down into the governor’s compound in the town of Pamplona in Negros Oriental and killed him along with eight others.

Romualdez said the security personnel knew that Degamo has existing death threats and yet only one of them reported for duty during the time the governor was attacked.

Azurin said the five policemen, who are already in custody, must explain their absence altogether, although the chief of the PNP said he understood that the security personnel should be performing their duties in rotations.

Azurin said during a news briefing on Monday that the security personnel should “enlighten” them on “what transpired,” and why they were not around during the day the governor was killed.

“That’s why we have yet to determine or it is them who should answer why during the time of the incident, only one of his security details is there,” Azurin said.

He, however, said that it was the governor who personally handpicked his bodyguards.

Meanwhile, Azurin said that the remaining suspects in the killing could also be former soldiers, and they have already coordinated with the Army for the ongoing manhunt and investigation.

At least 17 suspects were alleged to have been involved in Degamo’s killing, four of them have been arrested, while another one was killed by a combined police and military team.

Those who are in custody and have been charged over the killing are former soldiers.

Azurin said that based on the statements of the four arrested suspects, the remaining suspects could also be former soldiers who have been dismissed from the service.

Relatedly, the PNP chief said that the strongest motive in the killing of Aparri, Cagayan Vice Mayor Rommel Alameda was the latter’s opposition to the black sand mining in his province.

Alameda and his five companions were killed in an ambush perpetrated by gunmen in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya on February 19.

During the news briefing, Azurin said probers have already uncovered leads that could establish the motive and identify the mastermind behind the attack.

“Threats had been made upon Vice Mayor Alameda that point to business rivalry as one of the possible motives,” he said.

“Business rivalry in the sense that there is an ongoing black sand mining. ‘Yun yung matagal nang issue diyan sa Cagayan na kung saan itong mga black sand na ito ay binibenta sa mga Chinese. Vice Mayor Alameda had been against sa negosyo na ’yun,” he added.

The PNP chief believed that investigators would solve the case in due time.

Romualdez to Teves: Report for work ASAP

House Speaker Romualdez on Monday appealed to Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves to report for work as soon as possible.

Romualdez, in a statement, said Teves’ stay outside the country is no longer authorized by the House of Representatives.

Teves was tagged by one of the suspects in the recent killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.

“I have yet to receive any communication from Cong. Arnie since I appealed to him to return home. I expect Cong. Arnie to heed my appeal and report for work as soon as possible,” the Speaker said.

Citing the Philippine National Police (PNP), Romualdez said Teves would be provided with security once he returns home from a personal trip to the US.

“Nagsalita na ang mga opisyal ng PNP. They are willing to provide security to protect him from bodily harm. All Cong. Arnie needs to do is make the appropriate request. Our law enforcers cannot extend this protection outside the Philippines,” he said.

According to the Office of the Speaker, the travel clearance granted to Teves for his personal trip to the US lapsed last March 9, 2023.

In a news forum, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, lead legal counsel of Teves, said the lawmaker intends to return to clear his name.

Topacio said Teves is reaching out to the Office of the Speaker to explain his situation, saying “Romualdez might not have been apprised of the complete situation with respect to the security concerns of Teves.”

In an earlier statement, Topacio called on all concerned to observe sobriety in their pronouncements regarding the allegations against Teves in the face of certain accusations against him in connection with the killing of Degamo and several other persons.

“The killing has already been denounced strongly by Rep. Teves, who has denied involvement therein. It will not serve the ends of justice by publicly obfuscating the issues prematurely before a thorough investigation in accordance with procedures provided for by law. Verily, justice can only be done to the victims if and when the real perpetrators are brought before the bar of justice and convicted with finality,” Topacio said.

“We shall face any and all accusations consistent with the courses outlined in the legal system, confident that, in the end, our client will be exonerated,” he added.

Remulla assures Teves’ safety

JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla assured on Monday the safety  of Teves, who is one the persons being investigated in connection with the killing of Degamo and eight civilians last March 4.

Teves went to the US last February 28 to undergo stem cell treatment and was supposed to return to the country on March 9.

“He will be secured. We will not allow anything bad to happen,” Remulla said.

Remulla, however, clarified that no charges have been filed against Teves yet as authorities are still gathering evidence against those being linked in the horrific crime.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) chief said due process and legal processes would be observed in the conduct of the investigation.

“We just want to follow the process, evidence gathering where it takes us. Then, the courts will evaluate I and they will be the ones to say whether a warrant of arrest will be issued against anybody,” he added.

The Teveses are known political rivals of Degamo.

The lawmaker’s brother, Pryde Henry Teves, lost his petition filed before the Supreme Court seeking to reverse the September 1, 2022 ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) which declared a certain Grego Ruel Degamo as a nuisance candidate in the gubernatorial race in Negros Oriental last 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’ proclamation as provincial governor since his total votes of 301,000 was lower than Degamo’s votes, who was declared as the duly-elected governor of the province.

Aside from being implicated in Degamo’s killing, Teves was recently   charged before the DOJ with murder in connection with three killings that took place between March to June 2019. With Joel R. San Juan