THE LAWYER of suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel R. Degamo said his clients have recanted their testimonies implicating a suspended congressman in the crime.
Lawyer Danny Villanueva told CNN Philippines on Tuesday that three of his clients have submitted affidavits taking back their signed statements indicating their involvement in the murder and their allegations linking Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr. to the crime.
“The truth is my clients have nothing to do with and did not participate in the killing of Mr. Degamo,” he said in Filipino.
Another suspect in the case, who is also lawyered by Mr. Villanueva, recanted his testimony on Monday.
Mr. Teves, who had gone into hiding overseas, is accused of conspiring to murder Mr. Degamo and eight others on March 4. Fifteen people were also hurt during the shooting at the late governor’s residential compound.
The lawmaker has denied involvement in the crime and cited threats against him and his family.
Degamo family lawyer Levy Baligod said last week there is no direct evidence linking Mr. Teves to the crime, but cited more than three pieces of circumstantial evidence against him.
He said some witnesses had been offered bribes after a preliminary investigation hearing at the Department of Justice.
Last month, the House of Representatives suspended the congressman for 60 days for failing to report back to work after his travel authority expired on March 9.
The 60-day suspension expired on May 22, but the House Ethics Committee is still discussing its recommendation on the chamber’s next action regarding Mr. Teves.
“This committee (was) again able to acquire the jurisdiction by motu propio to further investigate (the) continuing absences of our members after the lapse of 60-day suspension (of Mr. Tevens),” House Ethics panel chair and COOP-NATCCO Party-list Rep. Felimon M. Espares told reporters on Tuesday.
He said a decision will be taken before Congress adjourns on June 2.
“We have scheduled again another committee hearing on the 29th of this month in order to hear and process the case being probed,” he said. “Our recommendations will be revealed at the plenary.”
House Ethics Committee Vice-Chairperson and Nueva Ecija Rep. Rosanna V. Vergara said that Mr. Teves’ “continuous unauthorized absence is continuous disorderly conduct.”
Mr. Espares revealed that the committee communicated with and urged Mr. Teves to come home, and that he responded.
However, Mr. Espares did not disclose the reply. “It is always in our committee rules that those confidential things we never disclose and discuss.” — John Victor D. Ordonez and Beatriz Marie D. Cruz