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Remulla says alleged mastermind Miranda ‘directed’ recantations

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday accused Marvin Miranda, one of the alleged masterminds in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, of supposedly "directing" other suspects to recant their testimonies.

There are now a total of 10 suspects in the case who have recanted and are now saying that they do not have any knowledge about the assassination. Among them are Joric Labrador and Benjie Rodriguez, who named a certain “Cong Teves” as the person behind the fatal attack.

“Now you can see that Miranda, true to form, as we said was the director of everything, the director of the massacre, was again directing the activities around how they were going to make everybody recant,” he said in an interview.

“So andoon na naman ang papel ni Miranda through his billing as a co-principal, co-mastermind together with Congressman (Arnie) Teves,” he added.

According to Remulla, things started to unravel after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) caught Miranda fleeing from Negros Oriental on March 31, days after the first three suspects were arrested during a hot pursuit operation and after the surrender of seven others.

The Justice secretary said the discussions with the other accused started after Miranda started talking with Atty. Reynante Orceo, his legal counsel who is a former Justice Undersecretary.

“And what we’re saying here is that everything is consistent, and the timing of Mr. Miranda getting captured on March 31 started the process of lawyering up for them,” Remulla said.

Remulla also stressed that Miranda had not initially been aware that Orceo was his lawyer.

For his part, Orceo denied that Miranda had been involved in the recantation of the other accused.

"Wala. Wala talaga. Wala siyang kinalaman doon. 'Yung ibang accused may mga kanya-kanyang abugado yun," he told GMA News Online.

"In the first place, hindi namin napagusapan kung anong nangyari sa ibang accused," he added.


Meanwhile, Remulla said that the recantations must not be taken lightly as it is a form of perjury, which is the crime of lying under oath.

“There’s perjury one way or another. Either they perjured themselves the first time or they’re perjuring their selves now. But definitely, there is perjury in what they’re doing,” he said.

“So a crime has been committed, again, by these suspects but we do not know which is the rule crime. We're not claiming anything but what we think is that these stories are being made by spinmasters or spin-doctors that they have employed,” he added.

Remulla later said that there was a “lot of money going around from the side of Mr. Teves.”

Justice Spokesperson Mico Clavano previously said it is very possible for the camp of Teves to be behind the recantation of testimonies, a claim that Teves has denied.

Solid case

According to the Justice Secretary, they have evidence other than the testimonies of the suspects.

“Hindi lang naman testimonial. Marami tayong evidence na iba. May independent physical evidence tayo. May  circumstancial evidence, marami tayong ebidensya,” Remulla said.

When asked if the case remains strong, Remulla said, “Of course, of course.”

He said the DOJ also had other witnesses, adding that over 50 individuals have come up to testify and support the department’s move to designate the lawmaker as a "terrorist".


Meanwhile, Remulla said Teves is still in Timor-Leste, where he previously attempted to apply for political asylum but was denied. Since then, Teves has asked the Timor-Leste government to reconsider its dismissal. 

“He’s about to leave Timor-Leste because his visa was extended due to the petition filed before the Supreme Court of Timor-Leste asking for asylum, for it to be reconsidered properly,” he said.

According to Remulla, Teves arrived at Timor-Leste through a private jet from Singapore.

He said the lawmaker is being accompanied by 13 people, including his wife and a person under investigation for the killing of Degamo.

“One of the cohorts that we are investigating is with him… He’s under investigation and he’s accompanying Mr. Teves in Timor-Leste. And he is suspected to play a very big role in the terrorist organization that they are running,” Remulla said.

Teves has yet to return to the country due to fears for his safety. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., however, had said their best intelligence did not perceive any threat against him.

On March 4, Degamo and nine others were killed while several others were injured after an attack on the late governor’s home in Negros Oriental. 

Teves has denied having any hand in the killing of Degamo. On Monday, the suspended lawmaker said the recantations of the suspect-witnesses are not enough to convince him to return to the country. —VAL, GMA Integrated News