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Negros Oriental could’ve been ‘second Marawi’ with IEDs found in Teves compound —Mayor Degamo

Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, widow of slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, on Tuesday said their province could have suffered the same fate as Marawi City due to terrorist attacks, considering the amount of explosives found in the property allegedly owned by former Negros Oriental Governor Pryde Henry Teves.

In a televised interview, Mayor Degamo questioned how Teves supposedly acquired the improvised explosive device (IEDs) and firearms, stressing that no peaceful man would have possessed such. 

“It’s not a joke. When someone is in possession of IEDs, ito ‘yung mga bomba na nagpasabog ng Marawi [these are the bombs that blew up Marawi],” she said in an ANC interview.

“It goes to show na you have connection with terrorist groups. Hindi po siya dapat tino-tone down ‘yung parte ng terrorism diyan [the possible terrorism angle should not be towned down],” she added.

Anti-Terrorism Law

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday said they will seek the designation and proscription of Henry Teves’ brother, suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., as a "terrorist" to force him to surrender to authorities.

Remulla said that all the activities that led to the March 4 killing of Degamo are covered under the Anti-Terrorism Law, specifically the recruitment, the financing, the purchase of firearms, and the distribution of firearms. He also earlier claimed that Arnie Teves appeared to be the main "mastermind" in the Degamo slay. 

Authorities earlier seized IEDs, a cache of guns, and a thousand rounds of ammunition from the HDJ compound in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, where Henry Teves sits as president.

Henry Teves has submitted a counter affidavit denying ownership of the weapons. 

Mayor Degamo, however, asked the media to dig deeper into the presence of the IEDs found in the compound as it could have led to something worse for Negros Oriental, had her husband not been assassinated.

“Someone, a bomb expert approached me, explained to me na, 'Had your husband not died along with eight others, chances are your province will become another Marawi,’” she said.

“If the governor’s death was just another number added to a lot of numbers na hindi napagbigyan ng justice, walang investigation na matino na nagawa, eh baka po talagang magiging second Marawi ang probinsya ng Negros Oriental,” she continued.

(If the governor's death was just another number added to a lot of numbers that were not given justice, and no proper investigation was done, maybe the province of Negros Oriental would really become a second Marawi.)

Marawi was attacked by the Maute terror group in 2017 which resulted in the deaths of over a thousand people and left the city in ruins after months of heavy gunfire against government troops.

Arnie Teves on Monday, meanwhile, described the idea of being tagged as a terrorist "laughable"

Makeshift firing range

During Monday’s Senate hearing on the Degamo slay case, Henry Teves admitted that there was a "makeshift" area in his sugar mill in the HDJ compound where he and his friends shoot weapons for fun.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Monday said that the makeshift firing range was illegal, after confirming with the Philippines National Police’s Firearms and Explosives Office that there was no registered firing range in the area.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Police Brigadier General Romeo Caramat Jr. said that suspects in the Degamo assassination practiced at a sugar mill before they committed the crime.

PRO-7 Deputy Regional Director for Operations Police Colonel Noel Flores, meanwhile, claimed that some of the key players practiced in an area termed “sugar central” owned by the Teves family.

Meanwhile, Mayor Degamo said she will release a video of her husband talking about the Teves brothers and how they have become a "threat" to his life. 

“Hindi lang si Arnolfo Teves ang hinihinalaan ng husband ko [Arnolfo Teves was not the only one suspected by my husband]. Sabi ng husband ko [my husband said], Henry Teves and Arnolfo Teves are the source of threat to his life,” she said.

The Teveses had denied that they were involved in the killing.

GMA News Online sought the comment of Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Arnie Teves' legal counsel, but he has yet to respond as of posting time. —VAL, GMA Integrated News