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Monday, June 24, 2024

11 Degamo slay suspects moved to Bicutan jail

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Eleven suspects in the killings of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine other people last March 4, 2023 have been committed to a prison facility of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Bicutan, Taguig City, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted for resolution the preliminary investigation into multiple murder charges filed against suspended Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. in connection with the killing of Degamo  and the nine innocent bystanders. 

 Remulla said those transferred from the detention facility of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila were Marvin H. Miranda, Winrich B. Isturis, Eulogio L. Gonyon Jr., John Louie L. Gonyon, Joric G. Labrador, Benjie Rodriguez, Jhudiel R. Rivero, Dahniel P. Lora, Romel A. Pattaguan, Rogelio C. Antipolo Jr., and Joven C. Javier.

 According to Remulla, the transfer was requested by the NBI since the bureau’s headquarters in Manila will be demolished for the construction of a new and modern building.

 Besides the deaths of 10 people, 18 others had been injured in the massacre in Degamo’s residence in Pamplona town last March 4.

 Except for Miranda, the 10 other suspects have recanted their earlier confessions of complicity in the Degamo murder and implicated Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. as the mastermind.

 “We do not have to take every recantation as gospel truth because of their previous statements,” Remulla said.

 “So, it does not change anything if at all because recantations, as always said, are looked upon with disdain by the courts and even by the prosecution,” he added.

 Likewise, Remulla said he will attend the next Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) meeting this month to discuss his recommendations to have Teves designated as a terrorist.

 Teves, who has not returned to the country, has been tagged as a “mastermind” in the Degamo slaying.  He has denied the allegations.

All the 11 suspects, including Teves, have been charged with multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, and multiple attempted murder.  The cases against some of the suspects have been filed in court.  The complaints against Teves were pending preliminary investigation by DOJ prosecutors.

Lawyer Andrei Bon Tagum, counsel of Degamo’s widow and  Pamplona Mayor  Janice Degamo, said Teves opted to file a motion to dismiss the case instead of a counter-affidavit to refute the charges.  

“They just submitted a motion to dismiss, questioning the jurisdiction of the panel of prosecutors. It is prejudicial to the general rule that a motion to dismiss is not allowed. They should have submitted a counter-affidavit,” Tagum said, in an interview.

Since Teves’ camp did not submit a counter-affidavit, the case is now submitted for resolution on the basis of evidence presented by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and on the affidavits of several  witnesses including the extrajudicial confessions executed by some of the suspects despite their recent recantations.    

In his 26-page motion to dismiss filed through lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Teves argued that the case against him should be dismissed due to lack of evidence to support a finding of probable cause.     

According to Teves, the extrajudicial statements of the 10 accused implicating Teves in the Degamo slay case has been rendered worthless following their recantations.

He noted that the accused executed their affidavits without assistance of counsels of their own choice.    

“Conversely, their respective affidavits of recantation were prepared with the assistance of counsels of their own choice, subscribed and sworn by them before the special panel in compliance with the strict requirement …of the Rules of Court,” Teves argued.

With the recantations of the other suspects, Teves insisted that there is no more evidence that would link him in the Degamo slay case.    

“Here, the extrajudicial admissions themselves have already been recanted and no other pieces of evidence, direct or circumstantial, is extant to corroborate the same extrajudicial confessions on the alleged conspiracy and the participation of Teves, Jr.,” the motion stated. 

“Therefore, the recanted confessions of the ten suspects, which was the sole evidence against Teves, Jr., have no probative value and are inadmissible as evidence against him,” it added.     

Topacio earlier denied that his client had a hand in the recantations of the other suspects.

Besides the Degamo murder case, Teves is also facing preliminary investigation before the DOJ  for multiple murder charges in connection with   the 2019 killing of former Negros Oriental Board Member Miguel Dungog and two others, as well as complaints of illegal possession of firearms.                 

Teves, who has denied any involvement in the Degamo killing,  has yet to return to the country since he left last February 28 to undergo stem cell treatment  in the United States, citing alleged threats to his life.

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