Teves considered ‘highest mastermind’ in Degamo slay

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla yesterday described suspended Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. as the “highest mastermind” and “financier” in the murder of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo.

Authorities at Camp Crame also announced the arrest of Teves’ right-hand man Marvin Miranda, who underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice (DOJ) main office in Manila.

Miranda, a military reservist, was arrested in a hot pursuit operation at a mountain resort in Barbaza, Antique on March 31, according to National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Medardo de Lemos.

Miranda was able to slip away from Negros Oriental using a helicopter emblazoned with Teves’ political slogan “Teves Cares,” Remulla said in an interview with DOJ reporters.

Remulla added that Miranda was not a mere “middleman,” but a fellow “mastermind” in the killing, with congressman Teves as the “main” or “highest” mastermind.

Comparing it to a movie, Remulla said Miranda, who served as Teves’ bodyguard, is the “casting director” in charge of recruiting the persons involved, while Teves is the “executive producer” in charge of financing and directing the moves.

Only this wasn’t a movie but real life because they really killed the governor as well as several others, he said.

“The executive producer is the one financing everything – the firearms, the safehouse, the vehicles,” Remulla said.

Most of the 11 suspects under NBI custody tagged Miranda and Teves as the masterminds in the March 4 attack at Degamo’s Pamplona residence that also killed eight others and injured 17.

Referring to earlier news that the gunmen were able to talk to Teves about the killing, Remulla said it was Miranda who was talking to the congressman in the video call and in turn showed it to the hitmen.

It was in this video call that Teves bid the gunmen “Good luck,” Remulla said. Miranda called Teves “Boss Idol” and “Kalbo.”

Miranda, who has a previous case for gunrunning activities, was tasked to gather the firearms, recruit the hitmen and participate in the plan to kill the governor, which was hatched as early as October last year, the secretary added at the press conference in Camp Crame with Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos.

For Remulla, all pieces of evidence bared the “direct link” of the murder to Teves. “Politics plays a big role here. There are other motives – business, illegal activities. But the direct motive is politics,” he said.

Besides the Degamo slay, Teves is also being investigated for possession of firearms and explosives and for being involved in “more than 30 other murders” in Negros Oriental, the most prominent of which is the 2019 ambush slay of provincial board member Miguel Dungog in Dumaguete city.

Asked if Teves’ brother, deposed Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, is “washing his hands” of the case, Remulla said he has issued statements indicating that he does not want to be involved in the investigation involving his brother.

“I don’t know what (Pryde Henry) wants to say, but he wants to talk to us... There are people who want to point out former governor Teves and former congressman Teves, but we have to see the evidence. We have to base it on the evidence,” Remulla said.

Meanwhile, Remulla denied the allegation of a former DOJ official who claimed to be a lawyer for Miranda.

Former justice undersecretary Reynante Orceo said in news reports that he was barred by the NBI from visiting Miranda last Saturday. He decried that the NBI is unjustly detaining his client.

Remulla said none of those under NBI custody identified Orceo as their counsel.

“With regards to a certain lawyer who has attempted to visit the respondents in the NBI detention center, we will proceed with caution. None of the respondents have engaged the services of this so-called lawyer, despite having been asked multiple times,” Remulla said.

“We cannot let strangers to the case force their involvement. The integrity of this high-profile and politically charged case is of utmost importance. We are now doing our due diligence to see the background of this lawyer to make sure his presence does not jeopardize the case at hand,” he added.

Vital link

At a joint press conference, Abalos said Miranda served as long-time security and bodyguard of congressman Teves.

“The Task Force considers Marvin Miranda as the missing vital link and one of the main conspirators behind the assassination of Gov. Degamo,” Abalos said.

Abalos added that based on the confessions of the arrested suspects, including the discharged former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who had direct participation in the killing of Degamo, Miranda was the one who recruited them.

“Marvin Miranda – upon the instruction of a certain Boss Idol, Big Boss, Kalbo – was the one who recruited them and the person who provided logistical and material support during the planning and execution of the assassination plot against Gov. Degamo,” Abalos added.

Abalos added that with Miranda’s arrest, authorities are now at the “tail end” of the quest for justice.

At the same time, Abalos noted that one of the confiscated long firearms during a raid at the compound owned by former governor Teves was owned by his brother.

Abalos said the government is also investigating the possible involvement of police personnel in the assassination of Degamo.


Police officers assigned in Negros Oriental took part in killings in the province, with some acting as lookouts or “spotters” in the murders, the lawyer of the Degamo family said yesterday.

“They (witnesses) have evidence from different victims and according to our records, there are at least 64 killings even before the March 4 incident,” Levy Baligod said, referring to Degamo’s killing in Pamplona town.

Baligod was coy when journalists pressed him for details about the policemen but said some of them are officials and still assigned in Negros Oriental. “Some have high ranks so that’s why this is very confidential,” he said.

Some of the killings dated back to 2012, the lawyer said, adding that they already have the names of the police officers, which they will submit to Abalos, who has supervision over the Philippine National Police.

It is for this reason, Baligod said, that they rely heavily on the AFP for their security instead of the local police.

No more comments

Meanwhile, Teves’ lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said his camp would no longer comment on Remulla’s pronouncements on his client’s case.

“Out of respect to the Secretary of Justice, we will no longer comment on his latest pronouncements regarding Cong. Teves. We will just await the filing of whatever charges may be made, and say our piece in the proper forum. Again, we emphasize that the bar of public opinion is not the right venue to determine the guilt or innocence of anyone,” Topacio said in a statement released last night.

”Perhaps, what we should focus on is why the DOJ, the NBI and the PNP are violating the basic Constitutional rights of those being detained in connection with the criminal investigations in relation to Cong. Teves, why they are being moved around the country against their will, being denied the right to counsel and subjected to improper pressure and influence to make them testify falsely against Cong. Teves.

These acts evince not just the weakness of the government’s case, but an illegal scheme to manipulate the evidence to unfoundedly incriminate a person,” Topacio said. – Bella Cariaso, Mark Ernest Villeza, Emmanuel Tupas

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