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No need for 4 suspects to be state witnesses, says Degamo lawyer

The camp of the Degamo family said Tuesday that there is no need for the four surrendered suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and eight others to turn into state witnesses because they already have enough evidence. 

“The evidence is sufficient already to successfully prosecute all of them without any of them becoming a state witness,” said the lawyer of the Degamo family, Atty. Levito Baligod, in an interview on CNN Philippines.

“We can still prove the crimes charged based on the evidence available… As of now, we don’t need any of them to become a state witness,” he added.

Joric Garido Labrador, Joven Calibjo Javier, Benjie Rodriguez, Osmundo Rojas Rivero, and 12 John Does are facing murder raps in relation to the assassination of Degamo at his residence in Pamplona on March 4.

According to Baligod, the first four surrendered voluntarily to the government and had manifested that they would not file their counter-affidavits.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) previously said that it was eyeing to place two of the respondents under the Witness Protection Program (WPP). After that evaluation, it would be determined who could be used as state witness and who should be charged for the murder.

Baligod explained that suspects could be used as state witnesses if they were found the “least guilty” or if their testimony is indispensable to prove the crimes.

Two suspects in the killing of Degamo named a certain “Cong Teves” as the person behind the fatal attack against the local official.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla later on said Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. appears to be the "main mastermind" in the killing while his former bodyguard, Marvin Miranda, also played a major role in the attack. 

Teves, for his part, has denied the allegations as he claimed that the government was making a “trophy” out of him by tagging him as the mastermind. —Giselle Ombay/ VAL, GMA Integrated News