Degamo case could revive probe of past Negros Oriental slays
More victims of political assassination in Negros Oriental will be identified in the course of the investigation of the March 4 killing of Gov. Roel Degamo, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Friday.
According to Remulla, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is already looking into 17 possible cases of political assassinations in the province.
“Yes, we have a listing already. The initial [number] that we got was 17 people. But there are more names coming up. But as I said we have to build up cases, we have to get the data,” the justice chief said.
Remulla added: “We are looking at a group of people, an organization within Negros Oriental that is possibly involved in this. Maybe a group of 7 to 10 people may be involved here in the murders that we are talking about.”
As for the Degamo case, 10 suspects are now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation, with six of them surrendering this week.
Remulla requested that the six remain unidentified for now to secure their safety.
He said the same people involved in past killings in the province could be responsible for Degamo’s murder.
“Very possible. They may intersect at some points. Or they may have a lot in common [with] the Degamo murder” Remulla said. Meanwhile Degamo’s widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, linked her husband’s political rival, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., to some 30 killings in the past.
“Other reasons include when these people are called to change their political loyalty and if they refuse, they [Teves camp] do something bad [to them]. Others really die …. The ones I know of are 30,” Janice said in an interview with ANC on Friday.
Remulla said the widow had also raised that matter to him, adding that the DOJ is considering her inputs in its investigation into the “pattern of impunity” in the province.
“Everything that is needed to prove a case has to be built up from scratch for many of them. Because many of the preliminary investigations for these cases never materialized, so we need to build them up from scratch,” he said.
Remulla said charges in connection with the Degamo case may be filed by the end of the month. But he declined to comment for now on whether Teves will be named the principal accused.
“I don’t know, I don’t know yet. We will look at the extent of it because if the case is filed it will still undergo preliminary investigation, except for those who voluntarily gave statements which we can already submit to the court for further action,” Remulla said.
He also reiterated an earlier claim that Teves could be in Cambodia, citing other information as well that he was in Vietnam earlier.
Teves was in the United States at the time of Degamo’s killing. He had sought an extension of his stay abroad but the House of Representatives denied his request.
On Wednesday, the House meted him a two-month suspension, after a deadline for his appearance before its ethics committee passed Tuesday, with Teves being a no-show.
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