Remulla: One of Degamo slay ‘brains’ arrested
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Friday said the case of the March 4 assassination of former Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo is now “99-percent solved,” following the arrest of “one of the masterminds.”
The justice chief did not disclose the identity of the suspect but said he had been “on the run” and was finally caught by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation also on Friday.
“The NBI was able to catch a main player. A name we have not discussed, we have never discussed here. But practically, I would say in my own reading of the situation, one of the masterminds was caught today,” Remulla told reporters during an ambush interview.
The suspect “figures in the statements made by the others … in custody already,” he also said, referring to the 10 suspected assassins, most of them former Army soldiers, already in the NBI’s custody.
This mastermind “was far outside of Negros Oriental already and for the last three weeks we were on his trail,” Remulla added.
He said there were two to three other “masterminds” behind Degamo’s murder, but Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. remains “in the middle of everything” in the case.
Teves has been out of the country since the murder of his political rival. Remulla and other officials, including Teves’ colleagues in the House of Representatives who suspended him on March 22, have urged the congressman to return home.
On March 10, police raided two houses and a beach resort in his name, finding 16 assorted firearms and some 600 rounds of ammunition.
Two weeks later, police raided the estate of Teves’ younger brother, Pryde Henry, and found P19 million in cash, 19 firearms and about 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
But there were 18 more firearms which a secretary of Pryde Henry turned over to the Bayawan City police this week, said its chief, Lt. Col. Stephen Amamag-id.
The weapons consist of seven long firearms, including an M4 assault rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, as well as 11 handguns.
Amamag-id said the weapons were registered and licensed. “But the problem was the License To Own And Possess Firearms [had been] revoked by the PNP (Philippine National Police),” he said.
The raid on Teves’ estate also led to the confiscation of identification cards (IDs) and other “partially burned documents” allegedly belonging to the detained suspects in the Degamo murder.
Among these were three IDs and an ATM card belonging to a certain “Jhudiel Rojas Rivero,” whom the police identified on Thursday as Osmundo Rivero, one of the 10 suspects in the government’s custody.
Also found was a certificate of completion for a Scout Ranger training program belonging to Joven Javier, another of the detained suspects.
Rivero and Javier, both discharged Army soldiers, were among the first suspects to be arrested, hours after Degamo’s killing at his home in Pamplona, Negros Oriental.
As of Friday, police are still occupying Teves’ estate, which covers 52 hectares and not five as earlier reported, according to the property owner himself.
Teves also denied having anything to do with the weapons seized in his property.
In a TV interview on Thursday, he said he was opening the records of his company, HDJ Bayawan Agri-Ventures Corp., to investigators. The company runs the sugar mill in his estate.
“It’s so that we can go on smoothly with what we are doing. Because of the heavy presence of uniformed personnel in the compound, many of our farmers and clients are afraid to do business with us,” he said.
The younger Teves also signed a waiver of confidentiality allowing the Department of Justice (DOJ) access to his bank accounts and phone records.
—WITH A REPORT FROM ADOR VINCENT MAYOL