The testimony of suspect-witnesses in the murder of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo were not coerced, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.
DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano made the comment four days after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that some of the witnesses against suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. in the Degamo case started lawyering up and were suddenly being uncooperative.
“There is no evidence pointing to that (coercion)," said Clavano said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
"We presented them to the media. There were several interviews at the detention center of NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), where they (the suspects) spoke freely. Right then and there, you can already see there was absolutely no coercion, no intimidation of any type. We have CCTV in the rooms where they were interviewed for their testimony [that can prove there’s no coercion].”
Clavano added that it was clear from the suspect-witnesses' body language that they were very willing to tell their story.
The DOJ spokesperson also emphasized that the witnesses against Teves did not take back their testimonies.
“What actually happened was that several of the suspects have lawyered up," Clavano said.
He added that out of the 11 suspects, six or seven had reportedly been uncooperative with the government’s investigation, and four remaining suspects may look for their own lawyers.
“As of now, the story stands. They’re sticking to their affidavits, they’re sticking to the same statements they made after their arrests and that was the basis of the complaints made the other day,” Clavano added.
Furthermore, Clavano was confident that the testimonies given by the suspects were difficult to take back.
“How can they recant that statement when they’ve identified themselves in the CCTV video saying I killed these people, I pointed my gun here and there. That is why we are not too worried because what we have is already too telling,” Clavano said.
Teves had denied having a hand in the Degamo killing, and he maintained that charges against him were politically motivated.
Teves, however, has yet to return to the country since he was linked to the Degamo slay. — DVM, GMA Integrated News