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TIMELINE: Degamo killing and murder raps vs. Arnie Teves

Murder charges have been filed against former Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. over the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and others, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Saturday. 

Charges for murder allegedly committed in 2019 were also filed against Teves in Bayawan, Negros Oriental last week.

The DOJ is expecting that an arrest warrant will be issued for Teves soon.

How did we get here?

The government’s investigation into the killing of Degamo spanned months, starting from the attack on March 4 up until the filing of the complaints against the alleged responsible parties in July.

Below is a timeline of the significant developments during and after this period.

March 4: Initial reports state that Degamo and five others were killed after an attack at the late governor’s home in Pamplona, Negros Oriental while he was distributing aid at 9:50 a.m. Degamo passed away at 11:41 a.m.

Citing witnesses, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said 10 suspects were seen fleeing from the scene.

Three of the accused — namely Joric Labrador, Joven Javier, and Benjie Rodriquez — were later arrested during hot pursuit operations while Arnil Labradilla died in an encounter with state forces.

March 5: The following day, authorities arrested one of the suspects, Osmundo Rivero, as the death toll climbed to nine.

March 6: Amid allegations that the killing was politically motivated Teves denied  on Facebook that he and his brother Henry were involved.

March 7: Prosecutors have filed murder and frustrated murder charges against Labrador, Javier, Rodriguez, Rivero, and 12 John Does before the Tanjay City Regional Trial Court.

Charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives were also filed against three individuals before the Bayawan City Regional Trial Court.

March 9: Labrador named a certain “Cong. Teves” as the person behind the attack against Degamo. Labrador and Rodriguez were reportedly offered to work as security but were later assigned to join the group tasked to kill Degamo.

Teves’ legal counsel, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, in response, called on “all concerned to observe sobriety” in their allegations against Teves.

March 10: Remulla instructed the Witness Protection Program (WPP) to give maximum effort in helping the families of the suspects to give them “a little comfort zone” and to “soften them up to be able to reveal more facts.”

March 20: Special Task Force Degamo head and Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos said one suspect surrendered over the weekend. Remulla said this suspect was a “direct participant” in the killing.

March 21: Four more “major players” in the killing surrendered. Remulla said almost everybody on the “attack team” was under police custody.

March 22: Authorities said 10 suspects were already under their custody. Remulla also said that an “organization” within Negros Oriental of seven to 10 people may be behind the killings.

Teves, who has yet to return to the country at this time, said he will not go home yet due to fears over his safety. He also appealed to authorities for “fairness” and asked them to look at all the angles in the killing of Degamo.

Due to his continued absence amid an expired travel authority, the House of Representatives unanimously slapped a 60-day suspension against him.

March 23: Remulla said all suspects under custody expressed their desire to join the Witness Protection Program.

March 27: The Justice Secretary revealed that Teves is being considered as one of the two to three masterminds in the killing of Degamo.

Topacio, for his part, described Remulla’s statements as “quite nebulous” and added that the DOJ Secretary did not say anything new.

March 31: Authorities arrested Marvin Miranda, one of the alleged masterminds in the case, after he fled Negros Oriental.

Teves’ brother, former Negros Oriental Governor Henry Pryde Teves, meanwhile, submitted a waiver of confidentiality to the DOJ. In his waiver, Pryde Henry waived his rights over his secrecy of bank deposits and communication logs.

April 3: Remulla said Teves appears to be the main mastermind in the killing of Degamo, likening him to an “executive producer” of a movie and Miranda to a “director or casting director.”

April 17: The Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee unanimously agreed not to allow Teves to virtually attend the panel’s investigation on the killing of Degamo, requiring him to attend physically.

During the hearing, Remulla said the DOJ would seek the designation and proscription of Teves as a terrorist to force him to surrender to authorities, which the former lawmaker later said he found funny.

Teves also declined to comment on Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva’s remark that his friends saw Teves in a hotel in South Korea eating at a buffet.

May 8: The death toll in the shooting climbed to 10 after one of the persons wounded succumbed to his injuries.

May 9: Remulla said Teves entered Timor-Leste “a week ago” to seek asylum. The Department of Foreign Affairs later said Teves’ application was denied by Timor-Leste. 

May 17: The NBI filed multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, and multiple attempted murder against Teves and others before the DOJ.

May 22: Rivero recanted his testimony and denied knowledge of the assassination and its alleged masterminds Teves and Miranda. Rivero said he was coerced into pointing to Teves.

May 23: The former legal counsel of Rivero said three other suspects — namely Antipolo, Lora, and Pataguan — also recanted.

May 31: Suspects Winrich Isturis, Eulogia Gonyon Jr., John Louie Gonyon, Joric Labrador, and Benjie Rodriguez also recanted their statements.

The House also imposed another 60-day suspension against Teves.

July 17: The murder complaints against Teves and others for the killing of Degamo have been submitted for resolution at the DOJ. Teves and the other respondents moved to dismiss the complaints against them.

August 1: The Anti-Terrorism Council designated Teves and 12 others as terrorists, citing several alleged killings and harassment in Negros Oriental.

The Council said their violations include committing terrorism; planning, training, preparing, and facilitating the commission of terrorism; recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization; and providing material support to terrorists.

Teves’ camp said the move is no surprise, saying that the government has mobilized all the resources at its disposal in an attempt to blame Teves for a crime.

August 16: The House voted to expel Teves for disorderly conduct. —VAL, GMA Integrated News