Arnie Teves’ lawyer: Preliminary investigation into Degamo slay a ‘kangaroo court”
The lawyer of suspended Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. said that certain indications led him to believe that proceedings in the preliminary investigation into the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo will be a kangaroo court.
In an episode of The Mangahas Interviews aired Tuesday, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ lawyer, expressed concern when Justice spokesperson Atty. Mico Clavano said the Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Bureau of Investigation, and the police were conducting case build-up on the case.
“Eh, ‘yung prosecutors po ang mag de-determine in the first place kung may probable cause or wala. Eh, bakit kasama sa build-up ang prosecutors… Eh, papaano ngayon sila mismo ang nag-case build-up. Papaano nila kokontrahin ang sarili nila,” Topacio said.
(Prosecutors will determine if there is probable cause or not. Why are prosecutors part of the build-up?… How will this work if they are doing the case build-up? They will counter themselves?)
“So all indications point to the fact that this is going to be some sort of kangaroo court,” he added.
The Cornell Law School describes a kangaroo court as “an authorized court or legal proceeding in which fair proceedings are impossible due, for example, to a partial judge or excessive press coverage.”
In February, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that the government is working on a rule that will allow prosecutors to work with police personnel, similar to a district attorney.
GMA News Online has sought comment from the DOJ but has yet to receive a response as of posting time.
“I hope I’m proven wrong pero gano’n na ba kababa ang nangyari sa sistema ng hustisya ng ating bayan na foregone conclusion na meron talagang kasong ifa-file sa isang taong iniimbestigahan pa lamang?” Topacio said.
(I hope I’m proven wrong but has the justice system in our country gone so low that it has become a foregone conclusion that a case will be filed against a person still under investigation?)
Degamo and eight others were killed while several others were injured after an attack at the governor’s home in Negros Oriental on March 4 while he was distributing aid to his constituents.
Teves is being linked to the crime after suspects in the killing pointed to a certain “Cong. Teves” as the one who ordered the hit.
The lawmaker, who refuses to return to the country due to fears for his safety, earlier denied involvement in the killing of Degamo. He also appealed for authorities’ “fairness” and for investigators to look at all angles in Degamo’s killing.
Millions of cash
Meanwhile, Topacio reiterated that it was illegal for cops to take the P18 million cash during a raid on a compound allegedly owned by former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves.
Police also seized illegal firearms and ammunition from the compound located at Barangay Caranoche in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental.
“Wala pong nakalagay doon sa search warrant na magkukumpiska sila ng kahit anong pera. Firearms lang po ‘yun at apat na klaseng firearms,” he said.
(There is nothing in the search warrant that indicated cash. There are only firearms indicated there.)
“Pumasok po sila, may nakita po silang pera, P18 million daw, kinuha nila. Illegal po ‘yun because, unang-una, hindi po pupuwedeng kunin ang wala sa search warrant,” he added.
(They went inside and saw cash [amounting to] P18 million, and they took it. That is illegal because, first of all, they cannot retrieve something not in the warrant.)
Topacio, however, said cops may retrieve contrabands in plain sight.
He stressed that cash is not contraband “in and by itself without context.”
“Eh, dinala pa sa DOJ. So ang lumalabas po nino-normalize pa ng DOJ ‘yung illegal and irregular na pag-serve ng warrants. So ito po ‘yung isang nakakalungkot na bagay,” Topacio said.
(They brought it to the DOJ. So it seems that the DOJ is normalizing the illegal and irregular serving of warrants and this is a sad thing.)
According to Topacio, Teves’ mother also called him regarding the search.
“Sinasabi nila, ‘Bakit naman pati ‘yung pinaghirapan namin na sugar mill? Hindi naman part si Arnie dito. Hindi naman siya naging part ng kompanyang ‘yun na nag-o-operate ng sugar mill,'” he said.
(They said why was the sugar mill we worked hard for included [in the raid]? Arnie is not part of this. He is not part of the company operating the sugar mill.)
Meanwhile, Topacio said the supposed political rivalry in the province is not the “backdrop” of the killing.
“This can’t be the backdrop of the killings. Bakit? Hindi naman po si Governor Pryde Henry ang makikinabang kung mamamatay si Governor Degamo,” Topacio said.
(Why? Because Governor Pryde Henry will not benefit if Governor Degamo dies.)
“Kung hindi naman po mangmang ang mga Teves, papatay ka na rin lang, hindi ka pa makikinabang?” he later added.
(If the Teveses are not ignorant, if they will kill someone, shouldn’t they make sure they will benefit from it?)
Topacio also asked the Senate to investigate other angles.
“I wish that the Senate would prove true to its word na imbestigahan po ito. Narinig ko po na merong gustong mag-imbestiga kung bakit na walang escort… We welcome that investigation by the Senate,” he said.
(I wish that the Senate would prove true to its word to investigate this. I heard someone wants to conduct a probe into why there was no escort.)
“Kasi doon po, at least, lesser ang magiging, if at all, lesser ang magiging impluwensya ng politika ng executive because these are lawmakers,” he added.
(Because if the Senate will investigate, at least the influence of politics of the executive [department] will be lesser because these are lawmakers.)
For his part, Remulla has previously said the DOJ is looking into other evidence, even though statements taken so far in the investigation have “inevitably” led to Teves. –KG, GMA Integrated News