Arrested suspect in Degamo slay case cries torture, coercion
MANILA, Philippines – One of the arrested suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo said he was forced to admit taking part in the crime through threats, suffocation and strangulation.
Jhudiel Rivero, also known as Osmundo Rivero narrated in his counter-affidavit how he was forced by law enforcers to admit his participation in the March 4 Pamplona massacre where Degamo and nine other persons were killed.
“Tinorture po ako. Sinoffucate din ako sa pamamagitan ng pagpasok sa plastic ng aking ulo at gumamit ng alambre upang sakalin ako. Ako ay nahimatay at nang ako ay nagkamalay na, aking napansin na lumobo ang aking leeg na hanggang ngayon ay aking dinadamdam,” Rivero, one of the first suspects arrested said.
[I was tortured. I was also suffocated by having plastic put over my head and using wire to strangle me. I fainted, and when I regained consciousness, I noticed that my neck had swollen, which I am still nursing to this day.]
Aside from Rivero, earlier arrested were Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, and Benjie Buladola R. Rodriguez.
They were initially charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Initially, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the arrested suspects expressed willingness to cooperate with the government’s investigation. They pointed to suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.’s former aide Marvin Miranda as one of the main persons behind the attack.
Then, on May 17, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Teves for 10 counts of murder, 14 counts of frustrated murder, and four counts of attempted murder.
During the preliminary investigation, Rivero denied knowing Teves.
“Hindi rin totoo na aking tinuro ang litrato ni Cong. Teves nang ipaturo sa akin sa apat na litrato sapagkat hindi ko siya kilala at kailanman ay hindi ko pa siya nakikita,” Rivero said in his affidavit.
[It is also not true that I pointed at the photo of Cong. Teves when it was shown to me with four other photos because I do not know him and I have never seen him before.]
“Hindi rin totoo na alam ko ang mga naging pagpa-plano sa pagpatay kay Gov. Degamo at hindi rin totoo na pamilyar sa akin ang mga ginamit na baril at kasuotan dahil kailanman ay hindi ko ito nagamit o nakita,” he added.
[It is also not true that I knew about the plans to kill Gov. Degamo, and it is also not true that I am familiar with the guns and attire used because I have never used or seen them before.]
Rivero said he was taken by the police to the Philippine National Police’s Provincial Intelligence Unit on March 5, 2023, after three suspects identified him as one of those involved in the March 4 attack.
He said aside from physically being tortured; he was also threatened that his family would be in trouble if he will not implicate Teves.
Rivero said the lawyer from the Public Attorneys’ Office even told him just to obey the police so that he won’t be harmed.
Rivero said he was informed that members of his family were taken into custody last March 8, and since then, he has not been informed of their whereabouts.
He said lawyers informed him that what happened to him was in violation of his rights under Section 12, Article 3 of the Constitution, Republic Act 9745, the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, and RA 7438, the Act Defining the Rights of the Person Arrested.
He also denied making the March 9 and April 3 sworn statements. He said the signature on the March 9 statement was not his, while he did not sign the April 3 statement.
Earlier, Remulla said he was not bothered by Rivero’s recantation because every step that they have taken was properly documented, including video footage.