Degamo widow, allied mayors taking more steps vs Teves
The widow of slain Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and her allied mayors in the province moved to put more pressure on Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., a day after the House of Representatives voted to suspend him for failure to return to the country despite the chamber’s ultimatum amid allegations linking him to his political rival’s killing.
After meeting with justice department officials on Wednesday, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo made an appeal to the Senate, asking it to conduct an inquiry to “help expose how intense the operations of the accused are in Negros Oriental.’’
Janice, who issued a statement in a four-minute video posted on Facebook, did not name “the accused” but was apparently referring to the suspected gunmen tagged in the March 4 attack on her husband that left eight other people dead.
Some of the suspects had executed extrajudicial confessions pointing to a “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind behind the killing of Degamo.
Teves, who has not been formally implicated in the Degamo case but faces separate complaints over loose firearms and a series of killings in the province in 2019, has denied any hand in the governor’s assassination. Appealing for fairness and claiming death threats, he has maintained his innocence in statements issued from abroad.
In a video posted also on Facebook on Tuesday, Teves claimed being a “victim” himself of those who wanted to advance their personal agenda.
Janice apparently alluded to him in her own video, saying: “There are those claiming that they, too, are the victims here. I was really shocked by this. How can these people become victims when they have been the cause of so many deaths (in Negros Oriental) even before the murder of Governor Degamo.”
“Victims are those who lose their loved ones—the least, the last and the lost,” she added. “Let us wait for the government to announce their evidence against the culprits and the mastermind so that we will thoroughly understand the real situation… “We who lost our loved ones (because of the different crimes in Negros Oriental) are the real victims here.”
Going for expulsion
The House on Wednesday cited Teves for “disorderly behavior’’ and voted in plenary to suspend Teves for 60 days for his continued absence despite an expired travel authority.
According to lawyer Levi Baligod, the Degamo family’s counsel, Janice and several other mayors in Negros Oriental would file next week a complaint in the House ethics committee to have Teves eventually expelled from Congress.
In an interview on CNN Philippines on Thursday, Baligod said the complaint would be supported by documents showing Teves’ alleged ownership of a small-town lottery (STL) franchise and unauthorized operation of online cockfights or “e-sabong.”
It will focus on Teves’ alleged violation of Section 14 of Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits members of Congress to “directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office.”
“Rep. Teves himself and also his lawyer admitted that he operated e-sabong before and also operated the [STL] in his province, and those are prohibited transactions under the Constitution and that is our principal reason to seek his expulsion from the House of Representatives,” the lawyer said.
Appeal to President
Intent on staying outside the country, Teves said only a direct communication with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would convince him to come home.
In another video posted on Facebook, posted late Wednesday, Teves claimed he had been under persecution since January, long before the killing of Degamo.
In his latest appeal to Marcos, Teves said in Filipino: “I highly respect you. I hope you could give me a chance to speak with you so I could explain my side. And maybe if you would ask me to return home, I might find it more difficult to refuse you because you have the higher authority to provide me protection.”
He reiterated that he remained reluctant to fly home as he feared for his life and that his family.
He also claimed that since January 11 an “operation” plotted by certain government officials had been set into motion against him, apparently referring to the criminal complaints he now faces over loose firearms and killings committed in the province in 2019.
Marcos on Wednesday urged Teves to return to the country and face the allegations, assuring him of tight security upon landing at the airport.
Marcos also said the government’s intelligence network had not monitored any threat on Teves’ life, contrary to the lawmaker’s claim.