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DOJ to file charges vs. Arnie Teves ‘very soon’

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday that it will file charges against suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. "very soon" saying there's strong evidence linking the lawmaker to the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

“Very soon. Although the exact date, hindi ko masasabi dahil ang priority po dito ‘yung quality ng case,” said Justice spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

(I cannot say the exact date as we are prioritizing the quality of the case.)

Clavano added that the facts have been gathered and the agency is just tying up loose ends about the matter.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday said Teves appears to be the main mastermind in the murder of Degamo. He claimed that Teves acted like an “executive producer” in a movie who financed and arranged the plot. 

Remulla, meanwhile, likened Marvin Miranda, one of the alleged masterminds caught by authorities last week, to a "director or casting director".

“Mabigat po at kumpleto na ang ating mga facts. Siguro kung just to follow ‘yung direction ni Secretary Remulla, buo na ‘yung pelikula at editing na lang ‘yung kailangan nating gawin para mas maganda ang presentation of facts, ‘yung evidence, at statement of the witnesses,” Clavano said.

(We have completed the facts and we have a strong case. If we follow Secretary Remulla's direction, the film is already complete and all we need to do is to edit it so the presentation of facts, the evidence, and the statements of the witnesses would be better.)

Clavano also said the DOJ wants the statements of the witnesses and suspects to be cohesive before they file the case.

“Lahat ng ito ay klarong klaro na po—hindi naman sila gagalaw kung walang nag-utos. They have nothing to gain by killing the former governor Degamo. Kaya meron talaga tayong makikitang trail sa taas at ‘yun na lang ang gusto naming itahi para when we file the case finally, klaro kung ano ang motives, klaro kung sino talaga ang nagutos, at kailan,” he added.

(All of this is very clear—they won't move without an order. They have nothing to gain by killing the former governor Degamo. We can actually see a trail above and that's what we want to tie up so that when we finally file the case, it's clear what the motives were, who really ordered it, and when.)

Meanwhile, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Teves' legal counsel, said that he will not disclose his comment about Clavano’s remarks as it may result in an administrative case being filed against him.

“My comments to the latest pronouncements of Atty. Clavano are not conducive to fraternal relations between lawyers and may even result in the filing of an administrative case against me, so I would rather not disclose it. Suffice it to state that it deserves plenty of laughter emojis,” he told GMA News Online.

Teves has denied that he and his brother, former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Henry Teves, are involved in the killing.

His camp said he has yet to return to the Philippines due to concerns about his safety and security.

 Topacio also previously said that they will no longer issue any comments after Remulla said that the case is now considered "close."

"We will just await the filing of whatever charges may be made, and say our piece in the proper forum. Again, we emphasize that the bar of public opinion is not the right venue to determine the guilt or innocence of anyone," said Topacio. 

Degamo and eight others were killed while several others were injured after an attack at the governor's home in Negros Oriental on March 4 while he was distributing aid to his constituents.  —VAL, GMA Integrated News.