Credit to Author: Sheila Crisostomo| Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2023 00:00:00 +0800
MANILA, Philippines — The wife of slain Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo has asked the House of Representative to expel Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. of the province’s third district for “unsolved killings” related to “politics and greed for power.”
In a 61-page letter received by the Office of Speaker Martin Romualdez on Wednesday afternoon, Degamo’s wife, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, has sought Teves’ expulsion from “being a member of Congress.”
“The investigation of the killing of my husband and others are still underway, however, the totality of the evidence at hand against Congressman Teves shows that he has failed to conduct himself accordingly as a member of Congress,” the letter stated.
The mayor cited numerous cases of unsolved killings allegedly linked to Teves’ power politics and greed.
Mayor Degamo claimed on Friday that almost 30 people have been killed in the province at the behest of Teves. Among the reasons for the murders, she said, was the refusal of some victims to shift allegiance to the Teves family.
“When they call asking for a transfer of political loyalty and if the victim refuses, they do something bad to these people,” Degamo said over ANC.
“There are people very close to those who died that are really pinpointing him and if this reaches a Senate hearing, we will really have a chance to be able prove it,” she said, adding that it is disheartening to know that some police officers took part in the atrocities.
Degamo’s wife also accused Teves of involvement in illegal gambling activities and having unexplained wealth.
She said that she and her husband initially asked for a Senate inquiry in 2019 but nothing happened.
Last Wednesday, the House unanimously approved the recommendation of the committee on ethics and privileges to impose a 60-day suspension on Teves for “disorderly conduct.”
He has been absent without official leave since March 9 when his travel authority to travel to the United States expired.
Meanwhile, the 60-day suspension slapped on Teves may still be appealed when session resumes on May 8, but not by the congressman himself.
House committee on ethics and privileges chair and COOP-NATCCO party-list Rep. Fellimon Espares said the motion to appeal may be filed by any member of the House based on the rules of the chamber.
“It is the privilege of any member to appeal, based on our interpretation of the House rules,” he noted over GMA7.
Espares maintained it would be better if Teves shows up at the House.
Asked if Teves’ staff should continue to receive their salaries, the lawmaker pointed out that it “depends on Secretary General on how are they going to implement the suspension. But it’s very clear in the House rules, the office space shall also be suspended,” he said, adding there might be some consideration.
The recent killings in Negros Oriental, including the assassination of governor Degamo, may have been carried out by an organization headed by seven to 10 individuals, according to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
Remulla made the statement days after he met with 10 mayors of the province, who provided the Department of Justice (DOJ) with information and documents that could aid their fact-finding to determine if there is a need to file cases in connection with violent incidents there over the years.
“We are looking at a group of people, an organization within Negros Oriental that is possibly involved in this… Maybe a group of seven to 10 people may be involved here in the murders that we are talking about,” Remulla told reporters on Friday.
Remulla said it was “very possible” that the organization could be linked to the deadly attack that killed Degamo and eight others. “They may intersect at some points. Or they may have a lot in common in the Degamo murders,” he said.
According to Remulla, the DOJ is currently tracing the pattern of violence in Negros Oriental, adding that the department is examining various cases and building up evidence.
The justice secretary said they have listed 17 names – with more names coming up – who could possibly be part of this political mafia of sorts. The names were provided by the mayors and other individuals.
Meanwhile, the six suspects who were allegedly part of the team that carried out the deadly attack on the governor will be facing criminal charges before the DOJ.
The National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday evening brought the six suspects – Rogelio Antipolo Jr., Rommel Pattaguan, Winrich Isturis, John Louie Gonyon, Dahniel Lora and Eulogio Gonyon Jr. – to the DOJ for inquest proceedings.
DOJ spokesman Mico Clavano said they may be facing multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder complaints. Remulla said the criminal complaints could be filed as soon as March 30, including against the masterminds who the DOJ said could be revealed soon.
Some of the suspects had implicated Teves as the mastermind, but he has repeatedly denied any involvement.
There are now 10 suspects currently in custody, including one tagged as the “main player” in killing Degamo.
The suspects earlier underwent inquest proceedings and were interviewed by the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program to ensure the safety and security of their families.
Former president Rodrigo Duterte for his part accused Teves of being the mastermind in the killing of Degamo.
“Illegal drugs played in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo,” Duterte said during a visit in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday to accept the Distinguished Merit Award from the city’s League of Barangays.
Duterte said the police should file charges against Teves based on the accounts of the suspects who pointed to the lawmaker as the mastermind.
“Once the case is filed, the Department of Justice should file a case for the cancellation of Teves’ passport,” Duterte said, adding that once this is cancelled, Teves would become a subject of arrest by the international police.
“Teves is lucky I am no longer in power. Otherwise, another extrajudicial killing would be an issue, “ Duterte said in jest.
Armed with a search warrant, operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Special Action Force commandos yesterday raided a sugar mill allegedly owned by former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, the congressman’s brother, in Barangay Caranoche, Santa Catalina town.
Based on a tip that loose firearms were being kept there, police raided the compound of HDJ Agri-Ventures Corp., where they seized at least 10 assorted firearms, three considered high-powered, and several rounds of ammunition for various guns. Three people were also arrested in the operation.
Police have yet to disclose their names as of yesterday afternoon.
Fajardo said they have yet to receive information if some of the firearms were used in Degamo’s murder.
“We have an informant that approached the PNP and said that this compound is where high-powered firearms are being hidden,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said. – Gerry Lee Gorit, Neil Jayson Servallos, Emmanuel Tupas, Mark Ernest Villeza