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MANILA, Philippines – Suspended lawmaker Arnie Teves allegedly threatened to include National Bureau of Investigation Central Visayas Director Renan Oliva in a theft case if the agency did not drop operations against illegal e-sabong operations.
Oliva shared details of his conversation with Teves, Negros Oriental 3rd District congressman, on Wednesday, April 19.
Oliva appeared on the third day of the Senate committee on public order illegal drugs’ hearings into the March 4 Pamplona assault that killed Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and eight others.
Holding up screenshots of CCTV footage showing the congressman and his entourage arriving at his Cebu office, Oliva repeated what Teves told him during the September 20, 2022 meeting.
“Hindi kita isasama sa kaso ng mga tao mo pag i-negative mo ang mga order sa iyo na mag operate ng (anti) e-sabong operation,” the congressman reportedly said. (I will not include you in cases against your people if you do not act on orders to launch further e-sabong operations.)
Oliva said Teves visited his office four days after the NBI’s September 16 raid on the Amenic N Calajoan cockpit in Barangay Calajoan, Minglanilla town, southern Cebu.
Judge Grace Veloso Fernandez of RTC Branch 19, Cebu City issued the warrant for the raid.
Oliva said the NBI later filed a complaint for violation of PD 1602, which penalizes illegal gambling, in relation to Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 against the operators of the cockpit, an alias Dongdong Ong and Carlos Uy Gothong III alias Jun Gothong, and 37 other employees.
The raiding team caught the suspects doing a live e-streaming of the sabong (a duel between cocks) under the website goperya.net, he added.
He said the service of the search warrant was witnessed by lawyer Pauline Gothong, the sister-in-law- of Carlos III, and barangay officials.
On September 19, five lawyers represented all the arrested persons during inquest proceedings at the Cebu provincial prosecutors’ office. Three lawyers came from Dumaguete and two from Cebu.
NBI Central Luzon Assistant Regional Director Noel Bocaling acted as Teves’ intermediary for the meeting, Oliva said.
“I told Bocalig, the cases were already filed in court and that the suspects already had lawyers,” Oliva said.
But Bocalig insisted on a meeting.
“I-meet mo lang si congressman because okay na tao yan,” Oliva recalled Bocalig as saying. (Just meed with the congressman as he’s a good person.)
Teves arrived at the NBI office on September 20, 3:41 pm with an entourage that included Tomasino Aledro alias Tukoy.
The first words Teves said, according to Oliva, was that he was not involved in e-sabong activities and that he had already delegated that to his friends.
But then the congressman demanded who had ordered the raid.
Oliva told him it was the newly-appointed national NBI director (Medardo De Lemos) on orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The Central Visayas NBI chief said he informed Teves that neither the cockpit nor the website streaming the sabong registered under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which regulates all gambling activities in the country.
He also pointed out that two presidents, including Marcos predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, had already banned e-sabong.
“I was surprised at his response to me. He told me that he will sue my men for stealing P7 million during the raid,” Oliva said.
“I just laughed. I told him you cannot tell me to betray my oath as a law enforcement officer,” he added.
Oliva said he immediately relayed the conversation to the NBI national director.
He was told to double down on operations against e-sabong.
When the NBI refiled the case in February 2023 after initial setbacks, Oliva said they were slapped a complaint for the theft, this time for P9 million.
On the second day of the hearings, entrepreneurs Jason Ong and Sandy Tinguha testified about surviving an assassination try.
They also shared how local police and health officials had tried to protect the suspected killer, a cop who still remains on duty at the Western Visayas PNP Drug Enforcement Group.