DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines — Aside from a cache of unlicensed firearms and explosives, agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) also found cash amounting to almost P19 million (not P17 million as earlier reported) at the residential compound of former Negros Oriental Gov. Pryde Henry Teves at Barangay Caranoche in Sta. Catalina town.
Col. Thomas Valmonte, chief legal officer of the CIDG, said the bundles of cash were found in a vault placed inside an empty van that was parked at the HDJ Bayawan Agri-Venture Corp. Tolong Compound on March 24, the day that law enforcers raided the place.
Pryde Henry is the younger brother of suspended Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. who was linked to the killing of former Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others. Arnolfo and Degamo had been longtime political rivals in the province.
Pryde Henry was proclaimed winner in the May 2022 gubernatorial race in the province but was ordered to step down in October 2022 when the Commission on Elections declared that Degamo was the real winner after adding to his votes those of a nuisance candidate named “Ruel Degamo.”
Valmonte, at a press briefing here on Sunday, stressed that they had counted and documented the money they recovered and assured “no single centavo will be [lost].”
Valmonte said the CIDG turned over the money to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila on Sunday. It would be up to the DOJ to decide what to do with the money, he said.
The Inquirer’s repeated attempts to reach Pryde Henry through private messages were not answered. But in an interview with CNN Philippines on Saturday, the younger Teves said he would cooperate with the authorities.
“I reached out to the DOJ. They need me … to answer some questions so they can put [the details] together. I am very willing also, I have no problem with it,” he said.
Valmonte said Pryde Henry and the three persons arrested during the raid would be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Authorities earlier seized six rifles, nine pistols, thousands of live ammunition, three improvised explosive devices and a rocket-propelled grenade at Teves’ compound.
Valmonte said an informant told authorities about the location of the weapons. The agents had to dig up some parts of the compound with the use of a backhoe to recover the firearms.
Valmonte said that the presence of these weapons is an indication that “there is an intention of an act of terrorism.”
“We are looking at the angle of terrorism,” he said.
Valmonte said the recovered weapons will be subjected to forensic tests to identify if these are connected to the weapons used by rebels.
Pryde Henry, the subject of the search warrant issued by Executive Judge Allan Francisco Garciano of the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City on Thursday, was not around during the raid.
But three persons were arrested by the CIDG. These were Nigel Electona, chief security of HDJ Tolong; Jeson Timtim, a security guard; and Dionilo Mayagma Jr., a fire truck driver.
They were flown to Metro Manila and turned over to the DOJ on Sunday for further investigation.
“He (Pryde Henry) will be charged also because based on the documents that are available to our disposal, he is the one in control of the premises,” he said.
The seized firearms were sent to Camp Crame on Sunday.
Valmonte repeatedly stressed that the raid had nothing to do with the killing of Degamo and eight others in Pamplona town of Negros Oriental on March 4.
“What we are doing is still pursuant to Oplan Paglalansag, the flagship project of the CIDG against illegal possession of firearms,” he said.
On March 10, the CIDG also raided the houses of Arnolfo in Negros Oriental where illegal firearms were also seized.
Arnolfo’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, earlier questioned the recovery of firearms in his client’s houses as the congressman no longer had firearms since he already surrendered them after receiving information of a possible raid.
At least 10 suspects in the murder of Degamo are now in the custody of authorities. Another suspect died in an alleged shootout with government troopers in Negros Oriental.
Some of the suspects have executed extrajudicial confessions and identified a certain “Congressman Teves” as the mastermind behind the killing of Degamo.
Arnolfo, who is still outside the country, repeatedly denied the accusations.