MANILA, Philippines – Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnie Teves on Monday, March 6, broke his silence on the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others on March 4, to say their clan would not benefit from the politician’s murder.
Speaking in parts with sarcasm and making it a point not to mention the name of the slain leader, Teves on his Facebook page said he was not able to immediately issue a statement as he was abroad for a stem cell treatment.
On the same morning that Degamo was assassinated in the family compound in Pamplona town, Teves was speaking online with anchors of DZRH on a Women’s Month program.
His brother, Pryde Henry, who was stripped in February 2023 of his short-lived governorship, was speaking live at the station of DYGB, on the FM band, past 9 am of March 4, around the time men wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying high-powered firearms opened fire on Degamo and his visitors.
In his radio talk, Pryde Henry apologized for his absence from the program because of a recent trip to Iceland.
“Ito ang kinatatakutan kong mangyari,” Arnie said. “Ako na naman pagbibintangan.”
(This is what I feared would happen. That I would again be blamed.)
Teves expressed surprise at the swift “solving” of the Degamo slay, referring to the arrest of at least three suspects – unlike other killings like those of journalist Rex Cornelio in 2020 and Dr. Avelez Amor in 2018.
While he said no one had openly named him, Teves said his “intel sources” told him that someone wanted to pin the killings on him.
“May iba gusto umepal, sumikat para sa sarili nilang kapakanan,” he said without naming names. (Some want to grab attention, they want to become popular for their own interest.)
Neither of the brothers has condoled with the Degamo family nor those of the eight others killed and the 17 others injured in the attack.
The governor was pronounced dead at 11:41 am on March 4, said his wife, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo.
Towards the end of his almost 17-minute talk, Teves claimed the CCTV footage of the incident indicated the killers seemed familiar to the people in the Degamo compound, as they met no resistance going in.
“Pati ang aso kilala ang pumasok. Hindi kumahol, it wagged its tail,” he said. (Even their dog seemed to know the men who came in. It did not bark.)
Teves said Degamo was known to have many bodyguards while local officials are entitled to only two. At least three of the suspects in the slay are ex-military men, involved in anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations.
The Army said the three were dishonorably discharged. On March 6, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said one of them was his former security escort discharged by the 4th Infantry Division for drug use.
Police filed multiple murder complaints on Monday, March 6, against three suspects with the provincial prosecutor’s office in Dumaguete City. Separate complaints for possession of explosives against the three were filed.
Degamo’s widow said they had been told several times about threats against the late governor.
While they had noticed suspicious persons in their neighborhood, the family thought their proximity to a military detachment kept them safe, she said.
Teves spoke a day after Senator Imee Marcos, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s older sister, told reporters in Negros Oriental that the government should declare a state of emergency in the province and impose a “lockdown” to ensure no suspects get away.
The senator lauded Degamo as a good public servant, and someone loyal to the Nacionalista party of her father, the late dictator and namesake of the incumbent president.
The senator said Degamo only had political enemies and referenced the contentious May 2022 gubernatorial contest.
“If I had the desire or the means to do that (killing), I should have done that before the election,” Arnie said in Filipino.
“Neither I nor my brother are beneficiaries,” he stressed, while also insisting his sibling had won the elections.
“Di ko alam magic nangyari na pinababa siya,” Arnie said. (I don’t know what magic happened that they were able to drive him out.)
Pryde Henry was initially proclaimed winner of the May polls. But Degamo eventually won his challenge on the grounds that a nuisance candidate had been allowed to run.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) formally nullified the results of the elections on October 3, 2022.
On February 12, 2023, the Supreme Court set aside Henry’s petition, allowing Degamo to assure the governorship for a fourth term.
Gun licenses, escorts
Addressing the President, who had earlier vowed not to rest until the perpetrators of the murders have been brought to justice, the congressman said, “I am not an enemy of the government. I am just an ordinary person.”
“Pakisabihan tao ‘nyo, ipabalik na ang lisensiya ng mga baril ko for my protection and protection of my family,” he said. (Please tell your people to return my gun licenses, for my protection and that of my family.)
“Tinanggalan pa ako ng bodyguard,” he complained. (They even took away my bodyguards.)
Teves had earlier taken out a full page ad in the Philippine Daily Inquirer to publish his open letter to the President.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced that it had stripped Teves of the licenses for three long and nine short arms on January 25, 2023, saying he had submitted spurious documents.
A few days later, the PNP also canceled his security arrangements, saying his escosts were not detailed with the Police Security Protection Group, the unit in charge of securing government officials.
Still citing his “intel sources,” the congressman said he has been told there is a search warrant for all his other unlicensed firearms.
He pledged to surrender his guns when he returns, admitting only part of his gun posessions had been turned over when he was out of the country. – Rappler.com
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