Teves could be behind Degamo slay suspects’ recantations – DOJ

Credit to Author: Neil Jayson Servallos| Date: Fri, 26 May 2023 00:00:00 +0800

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) believes that suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. could be behind the sudden recantation of statements by the gunmen accused of killing governor Roel Degamo and nine others last March.

“It’s very possible (that Teves is behind the recantations)… since the evidence trail leads to him, so we think there’s a bit of play from their part to discredit the evidence, the case and the DOJ,” department spokesman Mico Clavano said in a press conference yesterday.

While the DOJ remains confident that their object and supporting evidence are enough to sustain the multiple murder, attempted and frustrated murder cases against Teves, Clavano said measures are being taken to protect the remaining witnesses from entities that may “obstruct” the ongoing investigation.

“My reading of this move is that this is a play from the opposing side (Teves camp) to destroy the case. But for us, since we already anticipated that this would happen, we still believe that our case remains solid,” the DOJ official said.

Earlier this week, Jhudiel Rivero, Dahniel Lora, Romel Pattaguan and Rogelio Antipolo Jr. – former soldiers who allegedly carried out one of the bloodiest political attacks in recent history – executed their affidavits of recantation before the DOJ through their lawyers.

In his five-page counter-affidavit filed on Monday, Rivero accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) of beating and “torturing” him into tagging Teves as the attack’s mastermind. He also accused his public attorney of telling him to “give in to what the police want” to avoid further physical harm.

While the National Prosecution Service sees any allegation of torture at the hands of state agents worthy of investigation, Clavano said that if the accusations are proven false, the DOJ will file perjury and obstruction of justice charges against the witnesses and their lawyers.

“The DOJ’s plans right now is to investigate and verify Mr. Rivero’s allegations and if no such acts are found, we have actions that we need to undertake. But if we find that there’s really maltreatment and torture, then all those involved will be held responsible,” he said.

He said the preliminary investigation into Teves’ case would also tackle the torture allegations, but assured the public that “as far as our intelligence goes, nothing of such sorts (torture and coercion) occurred.”

The DOJ spokesman also expressed his disappointment and addressed the witnesses who recanted their testimonies, saying: “Why did you turn? Why did you turn your backs on us? All we want here is for justice to be served. So we can fight the culture of impunity (in our country).”

Meanwhile, Clavano disclosed that the Camp Crame Custodial Center at PNP headquarters is among the detention facilities that the DOJ is eyeing for the transfer of witnesses now that the NBI’s facility is up for demolition and since a former DOJ undersecretary familiar with people in the facility has allegedly been able to influence some of the guards to get to the witnesses.

Clavano did not name the former DOJ official, but lawyer Levito Baligod – counsel for the widows of the slain officials in the Pamplona massacre – revealed how the unnamed former undersecretary allegedly offered bribes to deter the gunmen from cooperating with state investigators.

He said the lawyers of the gunmen had retained the ex-undersecretary’s services, helping them deal with their legal battle.

Last month, former justice undersecretary Reynante Orceo was quoted in news reports as saying that he was barred from visiting Marvin Miranda, the alleged ringleader of the commando-style attack, by NBI agents. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva