Ex-Negros Oriental Gov. Teves asks prosecutors to dismiss firearms case
MANILA, Philippines — Former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Henry Teves has asked state prosecutors to dismiss the criminal complaint filed against him in connection with the seized firearms, explosives and P18-million case from the sugar mill that allegedly belongs to him.
“I vehemently deny any and all implication of a violation of Republic Act Number 10591, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, being hurled against my person and I abhor such false, malicious, misleading, and frivolous accusations,” Teves said in his 65-page counter-affidavit submitted Tuesday.
Teves also questioned the validity of the search warrant issued by the Mandaue Court as well as the manner the search was conducted, giving the impression of a “fishing expedition”
Validity of the search warrant
One of the requisites for a valid search warrant under the Rules of Court is the places and items subject to the search.
In this case, however, Teves said the search warrant only stated that the subject of the search was the HDJ Bayawan Agriventures Corporation Compound.
Teves said the HDJ Corp’s property is more or less composed of 51 hectares of land, of which only 10 hectares are enclosed and gated. The enclosed area is the Tolong Sugar Mill or the HDJ compound while the rest are accessible to the public.
Teves said he was warned by his lawyers that failure to specify the places to be searched “would open wide the door to abuse of the search process and to grant officers executing a search warrant that discretion which they should not have.”
Teves said he believed that the judge who issued the search warrant also failed to conduct search questions on the applicant because if he had done so, it would show that he was not the owner of the compound search.
“I merely own a meager ten percent of the corporation…Although I am the President of the HDJ Corporation, my tenure is conditioned upon the continued approval and acceptance of the Board,” he said.
He added that his task is to oversee the corporation’s strategic direction.
“As President, I am not expected to know everything that is happening within company premises. We are talking about 51 hectares of land here. The sheer vastness of the premises makes it impossible for me, nor any other person, to be aware of what is happening, especially so when the said premises are home to more than 200 people,” he said.
Conduct of the search
Included in Teves’ counter affidavit is evidence that the police purportedly disabled the CCTV cameras along the premises of the Tolong Sugar Mill.
“The act of the police officers tilting and disabling the CCTV camera away from them in an effort to conceal something seriously puts into question the discovery of the items within the compound,” he said.
When implementing a search warrant, the law requires the presence of two witnesses.
In this case, however, Teves said in most of the searches conducted, witnesses from the HDJ Corporation were only called to sign the inventory of seized items. “Thus no representatives from HDJ Corporation witnessed the alleged actual search conducted.
Teves also said that the search was conducted by the authorities for seven days making members of the search team free to roam the entire HDJ compound unaccompanied by any representatives from their corporation.
One of the areas searched, an abandoned ice plant and the Sugarcane plantation, was already outside the HDJ compound, said Teves.
Another area searched by the police where firearms and ammunition were discovered the house of Nigel Lagunay Electona; also named in the complaint is the owner and general manager of Balawis Security Agency hired by HDJ Corporation. He said they hired the security agency upon the request of his older brother, Congressman Arnolfo Teves Jr.
He added that Electona ordered Jose Pedro Capanay to drive the Hyundai Van in the motor pool area of the gated compound. Authorities found firearms, ammunition, and a P18-million case inside the van.
Teves said no evidence was presented to show that he has actual or constructive possession and control over the items seized.
“In the present case, the charge for illegal possession of firearms is based on materials seized…Since these illegally obtained pieces of evidence are inadmissible, the Complaint and the proceedings before this Honorable Office have no leg to stand on,” he said.