Degamo widow claims Teves involved in STL, ‘e-sabong’
MANILA, Philippines — The widow of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo said on Tuesday that her husband would probably still be alive if the Senate and other government agencies had acted promptly on his plea for help in stopping the worsening violence in the province.
Facing a Senate inquiry for the second straight day, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo said that her husband had recorded a video in which he supposedly pointed to his political rivals, suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. and his brother, former Negros Oriental Gov. Pryde Henry Teves, as the ones behind the threats to his life.
Authorities have tagged the representative as the mastermind in the killing of Degamo and eight others on March 4.
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, chair of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee who was presiding over the hearing, wondered why Degamo failed to address the violent incidents in the province where he was the highest elected official.
“The governor has the highest position in the province. But the gambling lord has more money than the provincial government has allotted for intelligence,” Janice said. “You may be the person holding the highest post [in the province], but financially, you’re miles behind from them. You’re just loose change to them.”
She added that it was public knowledge that Teves Jr. owned the operations of “e-sabong,” or online cockfighting, and the state-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) in Negros Oriental and Cebu provinces.
“We are faced with a giant opponent with money fueled by e-sabong, fueled by STL and even fueled by, maybe, illegal drugs,” Janice said.
Pryde Henry, who attended the nine-hour proceedings, vehemently denied that he was involved in gambling operations, but did not say if his brother was into the gaming business.
He said he had already signed a waiver allowing authorities to look into his bank deposits and the sources of his income.
“You can check for the last 15 years if I suddenly became rich, if money was deposited [to my accounts] or if I bought properties without any known source of income,” he said in response to Dela Rosa’s question. “I can assure you that none of [my income] came from illegal activities.”
According to Janice, her husband, along with the relatives of people whose deaths were being linked to the Teves family, also asked for help from then-President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019, although his orders to the local police to solve the killings went unheeded.
“I’m really sorry to say this. But if you did this [Senate investigation] earlier, Roel would still be alive,” she told Dela Rosa. “Now you understand why we had approached you asking for your help to have a Senate inquiry … We understand that the Senate has other concerns. But now I hope you get the big picture why earlier on, we [asked for a Senate hearing],” she added.