Suspect retracts confession tagging Teves in Degamo slay
MANILA, Philippines — One of the suspects in the March 4 murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others has recanted his sworn statement confessing to the crime and implicating Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. as the mastermind.
Jhudiel Rivero, also known as Osmundo Rivero, submitted through a lawyer his “counteraffidavit” retracting his earlier confession during the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) preliminary investigation in Manila on Monday.
Lawyer Harold Montalbo said Rivero was disavowing all his previous sworn statements but did not give a reason behind the decision.
He only said his new client had not been assisted by legal counsel when he made the confession.
Montalbo also said three other suspects in the Degamo murder case were clients of his law firm.
Based on a copy of the counteraffidavit leaked to the media, Rivero said he was taken by authorities in Bayawan City in Negros Oriental on March 5, a day after the killings, when he reported that his motorcycle was missing.
No knowledge about plot
He said he was tortured into confessing participation in the crime and identifying Teves as the brains behind the mass shooting inside Degamo’s residence in Pamplona town, which killed nine people, including the governor, and wounded over a dozen others. A tenth victim died in hospital on May 7.
In his latest sworn statement, Rivero denied any knowledge about the murder plot or that he knew Teves and his former bodyguard, Marvin Miranda, who allegedly planned the crime.
“While they were taking my testimony at the PNP (Philippine National Police) headquarters (in Negros Oriental), I was being kicked and hurt and I was told to confess that Teves ordered Degamo [killed],” Rivero said in Filipino in his affidavit.
“While I was giving testimony, I was told by those at the PNP headquarters that if I point to Teves, my family would be spared,” according to Rivero, who said his wife and children were taken by authorities on March 8 and that he had not heard from them since then.
Rivero denied that he voluntarily signed his sworn statements dated March 9 and April 3, claiming a lawyer from the Public Attorney’s Office had instructed him to obey the police.
The DOJ has yet to respond to Rivero’s recantation.
Last week, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he expected some of the suspects to recant upon securing the services of private lawyers but maintained that the sworn statements were valid.
On May 17, more than two months after the killings, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a murder complaint against Teves.
In April, his alleged “co-mastermind” Miranda was indicted by state prosecutors for nine counts of murder, 13 counts of frustrated murder, and four counts of attempted murder, along with five other respondents.
Teves, who was abroad when the killings occurred, has not returned to the country.