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Five more suspects in Degamo slay recant their testimonies

Five more suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo have recanted their earlier testimonies, as they claim to have been tortured to sign their affidavits.

Winrich Isturis, Eulogia Gonyon Jr., John Louie Gonyon, Joric Labrador, and Benjie Rodriguez have  now recanted their statements, according to their lawyer.

Atty. Jord Valenton, the legal counsel of the five suspects, said in an ambush interview before the Manila Regional Trial Court that the recantation was within the motions they filed on Tuesday.

He said the five suspects were “tortured and coerced to execute those affidavits.”

He said the suspects could not identify who tortured them as they were blindfolded, but that this happened while they were already under detention.

Last week, suspects Osmundo Rivero, Rogelio Antipolo Jr., Dahniel Lora, Romel Pattaguan, and Joven Javier recanted their testimonies.

This means a total of 10 suspects in the killing have now recanted their previous testimonies and now claim not to have any knowledge about the assassination.

For his part, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said they have only received one recantation.

“Isang reacntation lang nakikita namin so far. So we do not even know that. so somebody is orchestrating it. May spin doctors talaga. Meron talagang gumagamit ng resources para sirain ang ano ng gobyerno, ang storya ng gobyerno,” he said in a separate interview.

According to Atty. Danny Villanueva, the legal counsel of Rivero, Antipolo, Lora, Pattaguan, and Javier, the suspects were asked by the court about the alleged torture they experienced.

“’Yung mga kapulisan ng Provincial Intelligence Unit ng Negros Oriental. Halos pare-pareho ang kwento nila… hindi lamang si Rodriguez, si Labrador, at Rivero na pare-parehong sinakluban ng plastic o cellophane, he said.

“Tapos ‘yung kanilang mukha nilagyan ng wet towel o kumot tapos basa yun, tapos binubuhusan ng tubig na sila ay nasu-suffocate o nahihirapan. 'Tas lahat sila ay sunog ang mga kamay nila because of the alleged paraffin test conducted by the SOCO,” he added.

Meanwhile, the camp of Marvin Miranda, the 11th suspect and one of the alleged masterminds in the ploy, filed a motion to quash the case.

“In so far as our client is concerned, Marvin Miranda, we filed a motion to quash and to suppress evidence,”  Atty. Reynante Orceo said.

Atty. Villanueva, meanwhile, said their camp also filed a motion to quash, a motion to remand the case to the Department of Justice (DOJ), a motion for a medical examination, a motion to suppress sworn statements, and a motion to retain his clients at the National Bureau of Investigation.

He said the DOJ was given 15 days to comment on all the motions.

The next hearing is set on July 19.

Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano previously said he believes the government’s case against Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. remains solid.

Teves is being linked to the March 4 assassination of Degamo and 9 others, with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla saying he appears to be the “main mastermind” in the ploy. He has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.

Clavano also said it is very possible for the camp of Teves to be behind the recantation of testimonies, a claim Teves has denied—VAL, GMA Integrated News