Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Thursday said 9 of the 10 suspects in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation have already issued statements linking Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves to Governor Roel Degamo’s murder last March 4.
But Remulla said he would leave it up to the panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice to decide whether to include Teves among those to be indicted for the crime.
This developed as Speaker Martin G. Romualdez has taken upon himself the responsibility of looking out for the interests of the people of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental by temporarily acting as their legislative caretaker.
The Philippine National Police has also pieced together almost the entire story behind the killing of Degamo, the PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo told a GMA News program.
In the latest episode of “The Mangahas Interviews,” Fajardo said the PNP was just waiting for the filing of the appropriate cases against the masterminds behind the attack on the local chief executive.
“In the interest of the people of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental, the undersigned shall act as the Legislative Caretaker of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental for the period 23 March 2023 to 22 May 2023. This order takes effect immediately,” Romualdez said in a memorandum order he issued.
The leader of the House of Representatives traditionally namescaretakers for districts not represented in the chamber due to various reasons, including the appointment to a Cabinet position, suspension, or expulsion of a member.
Teves was slapped a 60-day suspension for defying a House order or him to return to the Philippines and face murder charges filed against him.
Aside from these charges, Teves has also been linked to the murder of Degamo and eight others, who were shot by assassins at the governor’s home in Pamplona town.
Degamo, documents showed, had been cleared of graft charges by the Supreme Court just days before he was shot dead.
The charges were in connection with the alleged misuse of provincial calamity funds amounting to P143.2 million in 2012.
Teves, who was last reported to be in the United States for supposed medical treatment, had refused to come back home claiming there are serious threats to his life.
Romualdez has repeatedly pleaded with the Negros Oriental lawmaker to fly home so he could attend to his job and at the same time face the accusations against him, assuring him that he would be accorded justice and fairness.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has also assured Teves of his safety.
At least 10 suspects, mostly former soldiers, have surrendered to the authorities and confessed either their direct or vital participation in the commission of the crime.
The NBI has taken custody of the suspects pending the result of the preliminary investigation on the murder charges and other criminal charges filed against them before the DOJ.
Remulla clarified that he has not spoken to the prosecutors handling the preliminary investigation of the case and it would be up to them to assess the information available to them in connection with the killings.
Remulla said the government through the NBI will be asking Interpol to issue a blue notice against Teves following his failure to return to the country amid allegations of his involvement in the Degamo killing.
A blue notice will alert member-countries that Teves is under investigation for alleged commission of a crime.
The DOJ chief also lauded the decision of former Negros Orientalgovernor Pryde Henry Teves, the lawmaker’s brother, to sign a waiver allowing the Justice Department to look into his bank accounts, phone records, and emails in a bid to clear his name of any involvement in the Degamo killing.
Rep. Teves left the country last February 28 to undergo stem cell treatment in the United States and was supposed to return on March 9 based on the travel authority issued by the House of Representatives.
However, Teves refused to return to the country, citing alleged threats to his life.
The Teveses are known political rivals of Degamo, who was an ally of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.