Former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Henry Teves has submitted a counter affidavit denying ownership of guns and explosives retrieved from the HDJ compound he allegedly owned.
This stemmed from the raid conducted by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the compound in Barangay Caranoche in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental in March.
In an 89-page counter affidavit, Teves said he never had “actual” and “constructive” possession of the seized firearms, adding that these were found outside the premises of the HDJ compound.
“I vehemently deny any and all implication of a violation of Republic Act No. 10591… being hurled against my person, and I abhor such false, malicious, misleading, and frivolous accusations,” he said.
Teves said police operatives searched an ice plant, a sugar cane plantation, and a Mud Press Area, among others, all of which he claimed were outside the premises of the 51-hectare compound.
According to Teves, 10 hectares were considered to be the HDJ compound while the remaining 41 hectares were open to anyone.
“In fact, as will be discussed later, the police officers absolutely had no authority to search those areas as it is not included in the application for the search warrant,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said that items found at the Mud Press area appeared to be owned by respondents Nigel Electona and Jeson Baillo Timtim.
Further, Teves said the items found inside the white van, including hard cash amounting to more than P18 million, also came from unknown origins.
According to Teves, all items found in the possession of the other respondents should no longer be included as items he allegedly possessed.
“The conclusion that they possessed the items inevitably removes me as a suspect that I possess the same items they have in their possession,” he said.
Teves also denied ownership of the HDJ Corporation compound, saying it is a “misguided premise.”
“To reiterate, I merely own a meager 10% of the corporation… although I am the President of the HDJ Corporation, my tenure is conditioned upon the continued approval and acceptance of the Board,” he said.
Further, he said he is also not expected to know everything that is happening with the premises of the compound as its president.
“We are talking about 51 hectares of land here. The sheer vastness of the premises makes it impossible for me, nor any other person, to be aware of what is happening, especially so when the said premises are home to more than 200 people,” he said.
According to Teves, the other respondents are also not employees of the HDJ Corporation.
He said Electona was the owner and general manager of the Balawis Security Agency, which was referred by his brother, Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., who is being linked to the assassination of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo.
“Arnie requested and convinced the Board to hire the services of Respondent Electona due to the instrumental participation of the latter in securing the right way of leading to the HDJ Corp. compound,” he said.
“Reluctantly, the Corporation acceded to Arnie’s request,” he added.
Electona then requested to be allowed to live in one of the guest houses within the 41-hectare premise outside the compound.
“A closer look at the house of Respondent Electona will show that the latter had established complete dominion over his property by installing barbed wires and a gate around the immediate vicinity of his house,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said Timtim was a security guard placed by the security agency and Electona’s alleged bodyguard.
Presumption of regularity
Teves also questioned the conduct of the search and seizure operation, saying police operatives disabled the CCTV cameras multiple times.
“The act of the police officers tilting and disabling the CCTV camera away from them in an effort to conceal something seriously puts into question the discover of the items within the compound,” he said.
Further, he said that witnesses from the corporation were also only called to sign the inventory and that they were not present when the search was being conducted.
“Without any witnesses, the search team had ample time to plant any pieces of evidence,” he said.
He also cited a Supreme Court ruling which held that a search conducted without witnesses is highly irregular, causing evidence obtained therefrom to be inadmissible.
Pryde Henry Teves has previously waived his rights over his secrecy of bank deposits and communication logs.
On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he met with Pryde Henry before the Holy Week. Remulla, however, refused to comment whether there is evidence linking him to Degamo's killing.
Meanwhile, Remulla said the former governor’s camp did not file a motion to quash the search warrant as there was information obtained in the raid that would prove his innocence.
“But I understand they did not file any motion to quash the warrant cause knowing fully well that it would serve as part of his defense,” the Justice Secretary said in an ambush interview.
“From what I understand, from what they told me, they will not contest the warrant because there are things that appeared in the search which would show that he is innocent,” he added.
Remulla also reiterated that flight is an indication of guilt when asked for his comment on the former governor filing a counter affidavit while Arnie Teves’ camp previously said they are considering if they need to file one.
“An innocent man will always cry foul and face the charges on the first instance, to the first opportunity, but the guilty run away,” he said. — VAL/RSJ, GMA Integrated News