Remulla: Probers weighingTeves role in Degamo slay


JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Thursday Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves and several others are among those being considered by investigators as possible conspirators in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight civilians last March 4.

Remulla made the statement after two of the four suspects in the gruesome crime who are now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reportedly named Teves as the mastermind in the killing.

The Justice secretary, however, said he has yet to fully read the statements executed by the suspects but acknowledged such  admission would hasten the filing of cases against those involved.

He also noted that Teves, who is in the United States for stem cell treatment, is expected to return to the country soon after his travel clearance issued by the House of Representatives was not extended.

Teves was allowed to leave the country from February 28 to March 9.

“So, we are expecting that he will be coming back soon if he is really serious in facing the accusations linking him as conspirator in the gruesome crimes happening in Negros Oriental,” Remulla said.

Remulla disclosed  that at least three to four persons were being looked into as possible conspirators behind the Degamo killing.

“We are investigating everybody who may have something to do with what has been happening in Negros Oriental; we are not exempting anybody,” he added.

Topacio’s reminder

Meanwhile, Teves’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said his client is ready to face all accusations against him and is confident that he would eventually be cleared.

“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.

Topacio also called on the public to be cautious in linking his client’s name to Degamo’s and several other killings in the province.

“We call on all concerned to observe sobriety in their pronouncements regarding the allegations against Rep. Arni Teves in the face of certain accusations against him in connection with the killing of Governor Roel Degamo and several other persons,” Topacio said.

He noted that Teves has already denounced the killing of Degamo and eight civilians and denied any involvement in the crime.

“It will not serve the ends of justice any by publicly obfuscating the issues prematurely before a thorough investigation in accordance with procedures provided by law,” Topacio pointed out.

“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,” he added.

He also stressed that the Constitution guarantees the presumption of innocence to every person.

Last Tuesday, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) filed murder charges against Teves and five others in connection with three killings that took place between March and June  2019.

The charges were filed based on affidavits of several witnesses who claimed to be  members of the assassination team that were   allegedly hired by the solon to carry out the killings.

The witnesses said political rivalry was the main reason Teves allegedly ordered the killings

With Degamo’s killing, Remulla said they are now seeing a pattern of impunity in Negros Oriental.

“What comes out is a pattern. It is a pattern of impunity that we did not sense before. It is something that is so new to us,” he lamented.

“But now that this killing of Gov. Degamo happened, the stories are beginning to make sense that there was a pattern of impunity within the province,” he added.

Remulla said the NBI is looking to expand its investigation into other killings by inviting some individuals who may have information vital in identifying the perpetrators and masterminds.

“This is not just about nine murders; there may be more cases to be investigated, besides even the ones, the three cases, brought by Atty. [Levito] Baligod  brought here on Tuesday,” the DOJ chief pointed out.

In order to end these killings, Remulla said he and officials of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) were summoned to Malacañang to discuss the current crisis in the province.

He said DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos were designated to head the interagency task force that will handle the situation.

“Those involved in the handling of this crisis just met together so that we could coordinate with each other. Our conversation was more organizations, and the necessity of putting back the faith of people in the justice system, the peace and order in Negros Oriental so that people will be confident of government. We want things to fall into place properly. We want  things to get back to normal,”  Remulla said.

Murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives have already been filed against suspects Joven Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Joric Labrador and Osmundo Rivero.

The Teveses are known political rivals of Degamo.