5 more Degamo slay suspects in custody; widow meets with DOJ
MANILA, Philippines — Five more suspects in the March 4 killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo are now in government custody, officials said on Wednesday as they also met with the slain official’s widow and other mayors from the province.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. said the suspects, whose names he withheld, had been turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and ”voluntarily offered relevant testimonies that will help the (investigating) task force build a strong case against the perpetrators as well as the intermediaries and mastermind.”
According to Abalos, this new set of suspects had “direct participation” in the attack on Degamo that also left eight others dead.
This brought the total number of suspects under government custody to 10 — nine former soldiers and one former military trainee.
“Our collaboration the past few weeks has paved the way to the surrender of the individuals responsible for the murder of Degamo and others,” he said in a joint press conference with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
“The work of the government is very, very much felt on the ground, so we believe that this caused a lot of people to surrender because they know that we will not stop, we will not relent, and it’s a better decision (for them to cooperate,” Abalos added.
More under probe
Giving a timeline of the probe, he said the “evidence…against the mastermind” would be revealed in the coming days, with the results of the suspects’ questioning expected to finished by Saturday.
Remulla said they were looking at “five or six people” who may have “something to do with the conspiracy to commit this murder.”
The justice secretary made no mention of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., who was earlier tagged by one of the suspects in Degamo’s killing as the mastermind. Teves is also facing complaints of multiple murder for killings that happened in the province in 2019.
Asked by reporters about criticism from Teves’ lawyer that the congressman had already been prejudged, Remulla said: “Did we mention his name? Have we concluded anything?
But he said, without elaboraring, that “If they would not come forward, then default. We don’t have a choice. I don’t have to say anything about what they think.”
Meet with widow, other mayors
Also on Wedneday, Degamo’s widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, along with nine other mayors from the province, met with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to discuss the peace and order situation in their localities.
“They’ve very appreciative that we’re not stopping at anything and that we’re doing our work,” Remulla later told reporters. “They’re giving us more details on what’s happening in Negros Oriental.
They’re giving us documents that we can work on to start with because there’s a lot of work to do to achieve lasting peace in Negros Oriental.”
In their meeting, the widow and her fellow mayors cited ”the pattern of what has been happening in Negros Oriental from way back…what has affected (the peace and order situation) through the years. We’re tracing it because there may be other cases we will have to file later on.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice on Tuesday started its preliminary investigation of the complaint against Teves for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
During the proceedings, DOJ prosecutors granted the request of Teves’ counsel and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to extend the deadline for the submission of necessary documents.
“We just appeared and we met the officials of the CIDG. They asked for one week to present their evidence,” said Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio. “We also asked for two weeks to submit our evidence. So that’s all. Everything was cordial.”
The CIDG on March 15 filed complaints for illegal possession of firearms against Teves and his two sons after authorities retrieved firearms, ammunition, and grenades from one of the Teves properties raided earlier this month.
Complaints were also filed against six people who were arrested during the raids, which were connected to the murder complaints faced by Teves for allegedly ordering a series of killings in 2019.
Degamo assailants managed to slip through Negros lockdown – Remulla
5th suspect also links Teves to Degamo slay
60-day suspension: House scolds Teves for ‘disorderly behavior’
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