NBI exec bares threat by Teves after 2022 raid at e-sabong cockpit in Cebu
MANILA, Philippines — A National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) official on Wednesday claimed that he was threatened by suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. after an e-sabong (electronic cockfighting) cockpit linked to the congressman was raided in 2022.
During the hearing of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on Wednesday, NBI Central Visayas Director Renan Oliva said Teves threatened to sue him and even accused him and the raiding team of stealing P7 million from the e-sabong cockpit in Cebu.
Oliva recalled that they conducted the raid on September 16, 2022, in Minglanilla, Cebu, resulting in the arrest of two operators and 37 employees.
According to Oliva, NBI Assistant Regional Director Noel Bocaling contacted him after the raid and said Teves wanted to talk to him about the Minglanilla cockpit.
Teves subsequently visited the NBI-Central Visayas office along with a certain Tomasino Aledro and several others, and denied having any involvement in the e-sabong branch while also questioning the conduct of the raid, Oliva added.
Oliva presented screenshots of the CCTV footage showing Teves’ visit to the NBI office during the Senate hearing.
“I was then surprised by his response to me when he told me that he would sue my men for stealing P7M at that cockpit,” Oliva said.
“He continued to say that he will spare me from the case if I make it negative of any incoming operations against e-sabong,” he added.
Oliva said he stood his ground and explained to Teves that only P2.6 million cash, computers, and other paraphernalia were confiscated during the raid.
A case was consequently filed stemming from the cockpit raid but on October 25, 2022, Cebu Regional Trial Court Branch 76 “quashed” the case “on the grounds that the acts charged in the information do not fall within the acts prescribed under Presidential Decree 1602 in relation to Republic Act 10175.” or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Oliva said that on September 3, 2022, they filed a motion for reconsideration but it was dismissed because it was lodged after the five-day deadline. Nevertheless, he said, the NBI Central Visayas refiled the case before the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor Office on January 5 this year.
However, five months after the raid, Teves’ alleged threat came true as Oliva said that a case was filed against him and his men last February 28.
He said the case was lodged before the Office of the Ombudsman for Visayas “for irregularity in the service of the search warrant and fabricated a story that we stole P9M cash … from P7 million to P9 million.”
“Days before the filing of a harassment suit, a video was spread on social media showing spliced portions of CCTV footage during the operation,” Oliva also said.
He asserted that the video intentionally omitted the inventory conducted by the arresting officer in the presence of lawyers as well as barangay officials.
Oliva said this prompted him to issue a statement debunking the video report.
Syndicates clout in PH justice system
Senator Bato dela Rosa, chair of the panel, criticized the country’s current criminal justice system, saying it is being influenced by syndicates.
“Ganito takbo ng sindikato eh, ‘Pag hindi ko maareglo ang complainant, aaregluhin ko ‘yung police. Kapag umayaw ang pulis, okay lang, next na lalapitan ng sindikato ‘yung piskalya, ‘yung prosecutor handling the case. Kapag hindi naareglo ‘yung prosecutor, bubuhusan ng malaking pera itong judge na may hawak ng kasong ito, aregluhin ko ito’,” the former chief of the country’s police force said.
(This is how the syndicate works, “If I can’t settle the complainant, I will settle the police. When the police refuse, it’s okay; the syndicate will then approach the prosecutor, the prosecutor handling the case. If the prosecutor is not settled, huge money will given to the judge handling the case, I will fix this.”
“I’m not specifying any particular judge and any particular piskal, any particular investigator, but it is really happening in the Philippines kaya ‘yan po ang napakasaklap na katotohanan … ‘pag na-dismiss, walang ibang sisisihin … [kundi] law enforcement,” he added.
(I’m not specifying any particular judge and any particular prosecutor, any particular investigator, but it is really happening in the Philippines so that’s the very sad truth… when dismissed, there is no one else to blame… [but] law enforcement.)
Dela Rosa also lamented that law enforcers are becoming the “whipping boy” of the criminal justice system, as they are always being blamed for cases of injustices despite being only one of the “five pillars of the criminal system.”
“Lalong-lalo na at merong mga powerful, mga mayayaman na politiko. Taka ka na lang na-dismiss ang kaso, ikaw pa ngayon ang nacounter-charge. Where is justice in this world? Hindi ka mapromote dahil may pending case ka, at ang nag-file [ng kaso laban] sa’yo, isang astig na kongresman. Hindi ka talaga mapo-promote niyan,” said dela Rosa.
(Especially since there are powerful, rich politicians. You will just wonder that the case was dismissed and now you are the one being counter-charged. Where is justice in this world? You can’t be promoted because you have a pending case, and the person who filed a case against you is a cool congressman. That won’t really get you promoted.)
“Napakahirap ng buhay natin. Kaya ngayon senador na ako, hanapan natin ng paraan ‘yan. Magtutulungan tayo na mabago ang sistemang ‘yan. Para ‘yung culture of impunity, ‘yung reign of terror na nangyayari sa isang lugar na hinahawakan ng politiko na walang pakundangan na gumawa ng violence ay mahinto natin ‘yan. ‘Wag natin pabayaan,” he said.
(Our life is very difficult. So now I’m a senator, let’s find a way. We will work together to change that system. So that the culture of impunity, the reign of terror that is happening in a place that is held by a politician who shamelessly commits violence, we can stop it. Let’s not let it happen.)
Dela Rosa even took offense at how Teves confronted Oliva.
“Alam mo, kung ako sinabihan no’n, sagutin ko rin siya, ‘How dare you? Who you? Para sabihan mo ako ng ganoon?’ It’s very bad. Akala ko pulis lang ang kaya niyang takut-takutin. Pati NBI pala sinasabihan ng ganoon,” Dela Rosa said.
(You know if I was told that, I would also answer him, ‘How dare you? Who you? For you to tell me like that?’ It’s very bad. I thought he could only scare the police. Even the NBI was told off that way.)
Dela Rosa then ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to support the NBI in its fight against e-sabong and to conduct an “all-out war” against it.
E-sabong: ‘Faucet of money’
Siaton Mayor Fritz Diaz, in the same hearing, disclosed that one week after then-winning candidate Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo assumed office, they sought help from authorities in Manila to stop e-sabong operations in the province.
“Kung hindi po ma-stop ang online sabong, mamatay kami doon sa Negros Oriental. ‘Yun ang exact words ni Gov. Degamo sa kanila,” Diaz said.
(If online cockfighting is not stopped, we will die there in Negros Oriental. Those are the exact words of Gov. Degamo to them.)
“Because of Degamo’s report, that’s the reason galit na galit ‘yung mga Teves kay Gov kasi pinatigil ‘yung isa sa faucet of money nila,” he added.
(Because of Degamo’s report, that’s the reason the Teveses are very angry with the Gov because they stopped one of their faucets of money.)
Degamo was assassinated within the compound of his residence in Pamplona town on March 4. Eight other people also died in the attack.
Government authorities said arrested gunmen have pointed to Rep. Teves as one of the plotters to kill Degamo.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs has been conducting a public inquiry into political killings in the country, including the killing of Degamo.
Teves was not present during the hearing after the Senate panel barred him from joining only through teleconferencing. Teves has not returned to the country since he left for a medical trip despite a lapsed travel authority.
Teves has repeatedly denied involvement in the killing of Degamo.