DOJ chief disputes bribery claim
“This is no joke,” Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla said on Thursday when asked by reporters about the bribery allegation made by a lawyer of suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. and the congressman’s recent antics on social media.
Ferdinand Topacio, one of Teves’ lawyers, earlier released a statement, claiming that certain high-ranking officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ) had offered a huge amount of money—running into the tens of millions of pesos—to Marvin Miranda, one of the suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo in a “desperate move.”
But Topacio did not specify what the money was supposed to be for, saying only that the information came from a “reliable source.” The Inquirer tried but failed to get a comment from Miranda’s lawyer, Reynante Orceo.
Except for Miranda, all of the suspects in the Degamo killing had retracted their statements admitting their involvement in the crime, saying they were tortured by the police. Remulla, however, claimed that Orceo, a former DOJ undersecretary, had offered the suspects P8 million each to retract their confessions, although the latter denied this. When asked about Topacio’s accusations, an obviously fed-up Remulla responded with “Baloney! Garbage.”
Teves, who has been charged with the murder of Degamo, is set to undergo a preliminary investigation on June 13. Remulla said a subpoena had been sent to him. Teves, however, has refused to come home and his current whereabouts are unknown. He has insisted on his innocence and says he will return only when there is “a semblance of fairness” in the investigation against him.
In the past few days, Teves has been posting videos of himself challenging Remulla to resign if he fails to prove his guilt. There are also several videos of the congressman dancing while wearing boxer shorts.
Most recently, he posted a photo of a man wearing Middle Eastern clothes in a mall with his face covered with the caption “As-salamu alaikum.” The man was presumed to be Teves himself.
“They’re trifling with the judicial process; they should respect the law. This is not a story for social media; these are the stories of the people they killed! The [closed circuit television] footage showed this,” Remulla said.
After the preliminary investigation, it could take less than a month to file charges in court which would issue an arrest warrant against the congressman should he still refuse to come home, he added.