DOJ summons Teves over political killings

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
DOJ summons Teves over political killings
Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.
Facebook page of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ)’s panel of prosecutors has summoned suspended Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. in connection with the murder complaints filed against him over the string of political killings in his home province.

Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon said a panel led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Mary Jane Sytat was created to look into the murder complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against Teves for his role in the March 4 attack in Pamplona, Negros Oriental that killed then governor Roel Degamo and nine others.

Teves, who has refused to return to the country from abroad to face the investigation, has been summoned to respond to the charges against him, according to Fadullon.

The DOJ set the preliminary investigation on the murder complaint on June 13.

Teves also faces a separate murder complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group before the DOJ over his alleged role in a series of killings in Negros Oriental in 2019 such as the ambush slay of provincial board member Miguel Dungog in Dumaguete city.

At a press briefing last Tuesday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said this means that the murder case probe is underway to pin down Teves in the massacre.

Remulla also scored Teves for refusing to come home and for mocking the judicial system in his social media posts.

The justice secretary has alleged that a former DOJ undersecretary in Teves’ camp had bribed the alleged gunmen to take back their statements, adding that the agency is confident of an airtight case despite the recantations.

Bribery try

Meanwhile, Teves’ lawyer yesterday revealed that DOJ officials are trying to bribe a detained suspect into admitting that the lawmaker was behind the murder of Degamo.

In a statement, Ferdinand Topacio disclosed “intelligence reports” they have received that “high-ranking” DOJ officials “offered a huge amount of money – running into the tens of millions of pesos” – to Marvin Miranda.

“Miranda is the only suspect in custody who has not yet given any sworn statement regarding the murder, but has claimed being tortured while under detention,” Topacio said, adding that Miranda is now under the NBI’s custody.

The NBI is one of the agencies under the DOJ’s supervision.

“We are verifying these reports, but rest assured that they come from sources that have been reliable in the past,” Topacio said.

Ten suspects have recanted their sworn affidavits, saying they were “subjected to repeated physical and psychological violence.”

The defense lawyer also remarked that DOJ officials have apparently become “desperate” in light of the continued recantations, and that the government is “left with no evidence against Teves.”

Topacio also pointed out that Miranda is the so-called last card of the DOJ, which is why they are “moving heaven and earth and using all the resources at their disposal in order to fabricate evidence against Teves.”

Teves was slapped with another 60-day suspension last May 31 for his continued defiance to the order of Speaker Martin Romualdez for him to return to the country and face the murder charges filed against him.

Romualdez said he has nothing personal against Teves, even if he kept on criticizing him.

“I will not allow anyone or anybody to destroy the integrity of Congress. I have nothing personal here. We are just doing our sworn duty to uphold the rule of law,” the Speaker emphasized, as he noted that Teves has to face the Degamo murder suit.

Romualdez, who is also the president of the ruling Lakas-CMD party, made the pronouncement after Teves challenged authorities to investigate Romualdez’s alleged questionable broadcast deal, through Prime Media, with former TV giant ABS-CBN.

Teves’ 60-day suspension lapsed last May 22. He left for the United States in late February.

“I would like to reiterate that as members of this House, we must be accountable to the people at all times and perform our legislative mandate with utmost competence, efficiency, effectiveness, integrity and fidelity to the people’s welfare – nothing less,” Romualdez said. – Delon Porcalla

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