Marcos to Teves: Face the charges

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday urged Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnulfo Teves to return to the country to face charges against him concerning the murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo.

“The only advice I can give to [Congressman] Arnie is that the more you let this drag on, the more difficult your situation will be. The earlier you come home, the more options you will have. But if it comes to a point that it’s too late, then government will be forced to make its move. We will have to move without any discussion with him,” Marcos told reporters in English and Filipino during the Philippine Army’s 126th founding anniversary celebration in Taguig City.

Marcos gave assurances that Teves will be provided adequate security.

“With the best intelligence we have, we don’t know of any threat. Where is the threat coming from? But anyway, to reassure him, we will provide all kinds of security, whatever kind you like,” the President said.

Marcos belied Teves’ allegations that the Palace is behind the threats to his life due to their differences on the issue of online cockfighting or “e-sabong.”

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“The root cause of this was e-sabong? No. This is because of the murder of Governor Degamo. We already had a problem with e-sabong before, but that’s not what this is about. Because with e-sabong, there was no reorganization; we didn’t transfer policemen, we didn’t get the military involved because of e-sabong. This is about the killing of Governor Degamo, pure and simple,” Marcos said.

Teves is a person of interest in the killing of Degamo inside the compound of his residence in Pamplona town on March 4.

Heavily armed men opened fire at the governor while he was distributing cash aid to his constituents. Eight other persons were killed during the incident.

The Department of Justice had earlier requested the International Criminal Police Organization or Interpol to issue a Blue Notice against Teves. The alert is issued to collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a criminal investigation.

Teves, in a 17-minute video, maintained that he is not in hiding.

He said he will not return home yet for fear of his safety.

Planned attack

Meanwhile, the special task force investigating the killing of Degamo said nine of the 10 suspects under the custody of authorities are now willing to talk about their roles in the crime.

“We expect much more results in the next few days when we are able to speak to the rest of the suspects. We have yet to formalize their statements which we will be getting in the next few hours and next few days. We have to be very systematic. We have to be very, very thorough about the facts that we can elicit from these people,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.

“We believed it would be a good time to name the masterminds after we have spoken to the nine suspects,” he added.

Remulla added the National Bureau of Investigation is conducting the interrogation.

“It was a planned attack. It was a very sophisticated operation that will not happen without the cooperation of many people,” he said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr., head of the task force, said that out of the 10 suspects, nine are former soldiers while one was a military trainee.

Abalos said they have so much information gathered on the killings.

“With the suspects under custody, you could just imagine all the information that we were able to accumulate,” he said.

Remulla met with Negros Oriental chief executives led by the widow of the slain governor, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, to discuss the peace and order situation in the province.

Also present during the joint press briefing were Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr., Department of National Defense Officer in Charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Andres Centino.

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