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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Rep. Teves charged with murder raps over 2019 killings of 3 victims

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday filed multiple murder complaints against Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. for the killing of Negros Oriental board member Miguel Dungog and two others in 2019.

The cases were filed shortly after Teves’s name surfaced following the murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight other people on Saturday.

PNP public information officer Col. Redrico Maranan, however, said Teves is not a person of interest in the Degamo case.

PNP spokesperson Jean Fajardo said the suspects in the killing of the governor gave information that could lead to the mastermind.

“We got material information from the arrested suspects that we could use to possibly identify the mastermind,” Fajardo said.

DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said the suspects made remarks alleging a middleman and a mastermind, but said these were still “premature.”

“There are some statements that lead up already to a middleman and a mastermind but these are statements that are too premature to even put a weight on because it is too early in the case. We have to really get back to the investigating room,” he said.

“We trust that the NBI will be able to extract as much information as they can so we can complete the story,” Clavano added.

In an earlier video post on Facebook, Teves said he was abroad for stem cell treatment at the time of the attack and that he would not benefit from Degamo’s death.

“If I had a plan or the capability to do this, I would have done it before the elections. What could have been my motive for this? Neither my brother nor I would benefit from this,” Teves said.

Teves’ brother Pryde was unseated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after a recount, which paved the way for Degamo to sit as provincial governor.

Teves, however, has yet to comment on the three counts of multiple murder raps filed against him and three other people by PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and four surviving family members of the victims in the 2019 attack.

Levito Baligod, lawyer of the complainant, said there are eight more counts of murder that will be filed in the near future.

Baligod also confirmed that witnesses have come forward and are ready to testify against Teves.

One of the witnesses said that he was part of the “assassination team” financed by Teves, Baligod said.

Included in the complaints were the alleged secretary of Teves, identified as “Hannah Mae,” Richard Quadra, Jasper Tanatan, Alex Mayagma, and Rolando Pinili also known as “Inday.”

Asked about the timing of cases, Baligod said that they have been building the cases for a long time and it was just a coincidence that another assassination has occurred.

The complaint stated that the victims who were all shot in the head were identified as Miguel Lopez Dungog, a former board member of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental; Lester Pialgao Bato; and Pacito Retes Libron.

Dungog was killed on March 25, 2019 in front of Siliman Medical Center in Dumaguete City, while Bato was gunned down on May 26, 2019 in Sitio Labugon in Barangay Nagbo-alao in Basay municipality.

Libron was shot dead on June 23, 2019 in Bgy. Malabugas in Bayawan City.

The PNP-CIDG reported to PNP Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. that last Saturday, a 46-year-old confessed “hitman” personally appeared before the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame to give his sworn statements regarding the three murder cases.

The witness, who is now under police protection, claimed he was part of a group of motorcycle-riding gunmen who killed Dungog. The man said he drove one of the three getaway motorcycles used by the killers.

In his sworn statement, the witness said it was Teves who ordered the killing of Dungog and that it was the latter’s secretary who gave them P50,000 as part of their “operational expenses” for the hit job.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice on Tuesday said the four detained suspects in the Degamo killing have signified their willingness to turn state witnesses in the prosecution of the case.

In a statement, the DOJ said the suspects—Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Buladola Rodriguez, and Osmundo Rojas Rivero – are now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation after they were airlifted on Tuesday morning, March 7, from Dumaguete City.

They were escorted by the members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police and immediately brought to Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The DOJ said it was verifying the statements made by the four suspects who had earlier been charged with three counts of murder and frustrated murder before the regional trial court in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental along with 12 “John Does” in connection with the killings.

On Tuesday, the DOJ filed more murder and frustrated murder charges against the four suspects.

“Well, there are already… three counts of murder against the four respondents and then another three counts of illegal possession of firearms have also been filed. So those cases are already in court,” Clavano said.

The police said the remaining suspects in the killing of Degamo and eight others were still at large and hiding in Negros Island.

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