Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo on Tuesday alleged that suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. and his brother, Pryde Henry, are sourcing their money from illegal online cockfighting and Small Town Lottery (STL) operations.
Mayor Degamo disclosed this during the continuation of the Senate investigation into the assasination of her husband, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, to which Rep. Teves is being linked.
“We are faced with a giant opponent [with] money fueled by e-sabong, fueled by STL, fueled by maybe illegal drugs,” Mayor Degamo told the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the committee's chairman, asked Degamo to clarify her statement, pointing out that during the 18th Congress, the same committee had recommended to stop e-sabong operations due to the cases of missing cockfighting enthusiasts.
Mayor Degamo said a tipster had informed her that Arnie Teves’ son, Kurt Matthew Teves, already ordered the resumption of e-sabong operations in the province.
“Someone texted me na they moved it to different places. I think from Negros Oriental parang dinala na naman ng Bacolod. But very recently, someone fed me the information…sabi niya nag-abiso na yata si Kurt Matthew Teves na magi-start na sila na ituloy yung kanilang e-sabong,” she said.
“It is public knowledge in Negros Oriental that the money of the Teveses comes from the e-sabong, STL,” she added when asked who are responsible behind the e-sabong operations.
Mayor Degamo also mentioned a raid in Cebu City where Arnie Teves supposedly went to the area to see the regional director of the National Bureau of Investigation.
“E-sabong raid po ‘yon sa Cebu and no less than Arnie Teves… went to see the NBI director and [he] was very angry, [he] berated the director,” she asked.
Degamo’s allegations were also backed by Siaton Mayor Fritz Diaz, who said the Teves family are using gambling money to wield influence.
“We have evidence, sir, na patuloy [ang e-sabong] not only in Negros Oriental but in the whole country. Palipat-lipat lang sila ng lugar,” Diaz said while asking for an executive session to disclose other information that will back his claim.
“Kaya walang na-solve na killings sa Negros Oriental because of the enforcers — not all, sir, kasi maraming mababait —pero karamihan sa mga may rank na enforcers bayad po ng mga Teves using the gambling money,” he added.
Diaz showed several photos and videos where individuals wearing PNP uniform are serenading and performing before Arnie Teves for his birthday.
Asked to clarify who among the Teves family are involved in these activities, Diaz named Arnie and Pryde Henry.
Pryde Teves denies
Henry Teves, who was present in the hearing, dismissed the allegations.
“Definitely, I’m not involved in any gaming or numbers games. In fact, I already gave a waiver to my bank secrecy and all my assets,” Pryde Teves said
“You can check it for the last 15 years kung bigla ba akong yumaman, kung may pera bang pumasok or may nabili ba akong mga lupa na biglang hindi mo alam saan galing ang pera. Ano ang income ko? Ano ang output ko? Sino ang binabayaran ko,” he added.
“Kung may biglang yumaman ako in the last 15 years, then you will suspect na I’m into something that is illegal. But I can assure you, I already gave my waiver to the DOJ and they are checking my accounts in and out in the last 15 years…I can assure you none of that came from illegal activities.”
For his part, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel for Arnie Teves, said: "We do not wish to dignify the ululations of a person who is obviously mad."
Diaz said the brothers are using “dummy accounts” involving those who are close to them, including their lawyers and campaign manager.
“May mga drastic change sa mga account ng mga people na nakapalibot [sa kanila],” he said.
The campaign manager, Diaz said, was the one who gives weekly money to law enforcers. He also identified a certain police captain who he said is the "bagman" among the local police.
Dela Rosa ordered the committee to send an invitation to the campaign manager to attend the hearing. He also asked the Philippine National Police's help in making the police captain appear before the panel.
To recall, Arnie Teves was linked to e-sabong hearing in the 18th Congress when gaming tycoon Charlie “Atong” Ang claimed that other e-sabong licensees are “conspiring” against him over his handling of the biggest e-sabong operations in the country.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said that Teves appears to be the main mastermind in the killing of Degamo.
Teves, who is out of the country, has denied involvement in the killing of Degamo and appealed for fairness.
Teves was supposed to participate virtually in the Senate hearing, but the panel decided not to allow him due to lack of jurisdiction and inter-parliamentary courtesy.
The lawmaker, who refuses to return to the country due to fears for his safety, earlier denied involvement in the killing of Degamo. —KBK, GMA Integrated News