Remulla links Teves to ‘criminal organization’
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday said Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. might have links to a “criminal organization” that could allegedly be behind the series of killings in the province, including the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo.
“[I] don’t want to speak until the case has been filed. But there’s a big possibility that Congressman Arnie Teves is involved in all of this,” Remulla said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
At a press briefing, Remulla said Teves was considered to be one of the masterminds in the March 4 killing of Degamo and eight others. He added that they are currently looking at two or three possible masterminds in the killing.
According to him, there are “10 to 11” suspects in their custody. One of the suspects was killed during a hot pursuit operation.Remulla said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is eyeing to file charges against the arrested suspects by Friday.
“At least by the end of the month, we can have this filed already. Some of them before the courts,” he said.
Asked if Teves’ name will be among the respondents, Remulla, in a television interview, said it would “depend on the decision of the panel of prosecutors based on the evidence we have.”
“There is [sufficient evidence]. We just have to weigh it properly together… For example, where did these people meet and stay? What safe house did they use? Who owns it? Based on that, he can be indicted. But we also have to look at the other evidence that is there for us to actually say that this is an open-close case,” he added.
The justice secretary also said that Teves’ younger brother, Pryde Henry Teves, might also be implicated in the case following the raid over the weekend on his property where several high-powered firearms, ammunition and explosives were allegedly recovered.
But Remulla assured the public that the right to due process of everyone tagged in the case would be respected.
Teves’ lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, said that Remulla’s announcement claiming his client was among those being considered masterminds in the Degamo killing was “anticlimactic.”
“There are statements saying ‘I think,’ ‘I’m not sure,’ ‘it’s possible.’ Complete the case buildup and please file it so that it can be heard at the prosecutor’s office,” said Topacio, as he appealed to Remulla to avoid naming his client.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos on Monday asked the mastermind in the killing of Degamo to surrender to authorities.
“I know you know who you are. Surrender. We saw all the pieces of evidence in the past few days. The killer himself is already in custody. The other suspects who have yet to surrender, please surrender and think about it. You could be next. He is very, very devious. He is very evil. He must be very evil to kill someone just like that,” he told a joint press briefing at Camp Crame.
Abalos claimed that they have “strong evidence” to pin down the mastermind. “We don’t only have testimonies but forensic evidence,” he said.
He presented to the media several confiscated firearms and explosives in its recent raids on the sugar mill linked to former Negros Oriental Gov. Pryde Henry, who was earlier tagged as a mastermind of the killing. A backhoe was used to dig up the firearms in the huge compound.
“How could you plant anything that needed a backhoe to be discovered?” Abalos said.
One of the high-powered firearms included a sniper rifle.
“Why would you need something like that? What does it mean? And the IEDs (improvised explosive devices). That by itself means there’s an evil plan,” he said.