The lawyer of Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. on Friday dismissed claims by arrested suspects that a certain "Cong Teves" was behind the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.
"Hearsay po ito. Wala pong nagsasabing nakausap nila si Congressman Teves at ito po ay nag-utos na ipapatay si Governor Degamo," Atty. Ferdinand Topacio said in an interview on GMA News' Unang Balita.
(This is hearsay. No one said that they talked to Congressman Teves and that they were told to kill Governor Degamo.)
Topacio pointed out that there is no direct evidence linking Teves, who is out of the country and on extended leave from the House of Representatives, to the March 4 killing.
"Wala naman pong direct evidence. Ito pong sinasabi nilang nagtuturo kay Congressman Teves, ang sabi niya, ayon sa kanyang ambush interview, may kausap daw siyang isang Marvin. At sabi raw nitong Marvin na diumano'y middleman doon sa mga guns for fire ay ang nagpautos nito ay isang Congressman Teves," he added.
(There is no direct evidence. In an ambush interview, the suspect said he talked to a certain Marvin, the supposed middleman for the guns for hire, and this Marvin said that a Congressman Teves ordered the hit.)
Joric Labrador, one of the arrested suspects in the killing of Degamo, has identified a certain "Marvin" as the one who recruited them to conduct the assassination. He said they were told by Marvin that the order came from "Cong Teves.
Asked if Teves knew a person named Marvin, Topacio said no but added that it not unlikely for the lawmaker not to know someone named Marvin as it is a common name.
Teves has earlier denied his and his family's involvement in the killing of Degamo, saying they would not benefit from it. The Teveses and Degamos are political rivals in Negros Oriental.
Topacio, meanwhile, called on authorities to also look into other angles in the killing of Degamo and asked them not to focus on one person.
"Marami pong anggulo ang isang istorya, hindi lamang po isa, kaya huwag po tayong ma-fixate sa isang tao lamang and let us follow all leads,” he said.
(There are many angles to a story, not only one, so don’t be fixated by one person only and let us follow all leads.)
Asked if Teves is still in the US or already in Asia as stated by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, Topacio said the information is confidential.
He said Speaker Martin Romualdez, whom he met Wednesday, is aware of Teves' current location. He said he will let Romualdez talk about the matter.
"Isa po 'yan sa mga pinag-usapan namin ni Speaker Romualdez noong makalawa noong kami ay mag-usap. Alam naman po nila kung nasaan,” Topacio said.
(That was one of the topcis when I met with Speaker Romualdez the other day. They were aware of Teves' whereabouts.)
"Pero ang gentleman's agreement namin ni Speaker Romualdez ay lahat po ng bagay na napag-usapan namin tungkol kay Congressman Teves ay confidential po,” he added.
(But my gentleman's agreement with Speaker Romualdez is that all that we discussed about Congressman Teves during the meeting is confidential.)
On Thursday, Romualdez urged Teves to reconsider his decision not to return to the Philippines for the meantime amid the complaints filed against him in connection with supposed illegal firearms.
On March 4, Degamo and five others were killed while several others were injured in the attack that was pulled off while the governor was distributing aid to his constituents at his residence in Pamplona, Negros Oriental. The death toll later increased to nine.
Murder and frustrated murder charges have been filed against four suspects identified as Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rojas Rivero, and 12 John Does before the Tanjay City Regional Trial Court.
Charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives were also filed against three individuals before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court.
Aside from complaints involving loose firearms, Teves has also been named respondent in a separate complaint regarding several killings in Negros Oriental perpetrated in 2019. —KBK, GMA Integrated News