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Teves virtual presence at Senate probe a chance to ask questions –dela Rosa

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Saturday said suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr.'s commitment to attend a Senate investigation virtually was an opportunity to ask him important questions.

Dela Rosa, the chairman of the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee which was looking into the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, added that he wanted to hear Teves' side.

“So ngayon, nagpakita siya ng intensyon na magattend virtually eh gusto ko i-grab yung opportunity para magrill siya at maitanong siya nang dapat maitanong kahit na online lamang kasi opportunity din yan ng members ng committee na maggrill siya kesa sige siya magtago wala rin [mangyayari], isang side lang maririnig mo, the purpose of the hearing is to hear both sides,” he said in a radio interview.

(So now, he has shown his intention to attend virtually, so I want to grab the opportunity to grill him and ask him questions that should be asked even if only online. Because that is also an opportunity for committee members to grill him instead of hiding. Nothing will happen, you will only hear one side, the purpose of the hearing is to hear both sides.)

“Now that he expresses his intention to be heard virtually, kaya ginrab ko na lang din so sana maintindihan din ng kabilang side ang purpose sa hearing is kung fairness ang habol nila fairness din yung intention ng committee kasi gusto natin marinig both sides kasi sisigaw din ang kabila na unfair kung hindi sila marinig pero may punto rin ang kampo ni Degamo na unfair din kasi sila physically, tapos si teves virtually, pag usapan namin yan ngayong Monday at desisyonan namin bago magstart ang hearing,” he added.

(Now that he expresses his intention to be heard virtually, I just grabbed it so I hope the other side also understands the purpose of the hearing is fairness. Fairness is also the intention of the committee because we want to hear both sides. Degamo's camp also has a point that it's also unfair because they will be physically attending, while Teves will attend virtually, we'll talk about that this Monday and we'll decide before the hearing starts.)

Dela Rosa earlier said that Teves confirmed he would attend the committee hearing.

However, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, wife of slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, expressed disappointment over the Senate committee's decision to allow Teves to virtually attend its upcoming hearing.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla last week said Teves appeared to be the main mastermind in the killing of Degamo.

Teves, who is believed to be in Cambodia, denied the accusations made against him and appealed for fairness.

Drug haul investigation

Dela Rosa called for a clear investigation after 47 officials and personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were found to have criminal and administrative liability in the 990-kg shabu confiscation in Manila last year.

“Nakakadisappoint talaga kung involved sila, pero nakakadisappoint din kung hindi sila involved nagtatrabaho nang matino tapos madadamay lang. Kaya I really strongly recommend to the PNP leadership, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), at Napolcom ayusin nila ang investigation nila dyan para managot ang dapat managot at hindi madamay ang hindi dapat madamay,” he said.

(It’s really disappointing if they are involved, but it is also disappointing if they are not involved. So I strongly recommend to the PNP leadership, DILG, and Napolcom that they must have a clear investigation so that those who should be held accountable and those who should not be held accountable are not blamed.)

He also advised PNP Chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. to speak up to put this case to rest.

“I strongly advised him na being the chief of the agency just to speak up, to clear the doubts, to clear the air, para this case will be laid to rest,” he said.

The Special Investigation Task Group 990 (SITG 990) will hold a press conference on Monday to discuss the findings from its investigation into the illegal drug case of now-dismissed Police Master Sergeant Rodolfo Mayo Jr. involving 990 kilograms of confiscated shabu.

‘Surrender and face charges’

Dela Rosa, meanwhile, urged former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag to surrender and face the charges made against him.

“For peace of mind sumuko siya, isubmit niya ang sarili niya sa hustisya at harapin niya kung anong mga charges laban sa kanya. And kung talagang inosente siya, he will be set free ultimately magtitiwala pa rin tayo sa ating [justice] system dito,” he said.

(For peace of mind, he should surrender, he must submit himself to justice and he must face charges against him. And if he is really innocent, he will be set free ultimately. We should still trust our justice system here.)

A Muntinlupa court ordered Bantag's arrest in connection with the death of Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid.

Lapid was shot dead in Las Piñas City on October 3, 2022, while Villamor, an inmate, died at the New Bilibid Prison on October 18, 2022.

An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun concluded that Villamor's remains had showed a "history of asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation." — DVM, GMA Integrated News