THE EVIDENCE in the murder complaint against a Philippine congressman linked to the murder of Negros Oriental Mayor Roel R. Degamo is mostly circumstantial, the lawyer of the slain provincial governor said on Thursday.
“It is based on the totality of evidence rule,” Levy Baligod, who lawyers for the Degamo family, told CNN Philippines.
“Even though there is no direct evidence according to the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigation linking Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr. to the killings, more than three circumstantial pieces of evidence would point to the fact that he was one of the masterminds.”
Agents of the NBI on Wednesday filed a multiple murder complaint against the suspended congressmen, a copy of which has yet to be made public.
The congressman, 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.
Mr. Teves has denied involvement in the crime and cited threats against him and his family.
The Degamo family lawyer said some witnesses in the case had told him that they were offered bribes after a preliminary investigation hearing at the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said on Wednesday that Mr. Teves has to come home so he could answer the complaints before government prosecutors.
Ferdinand S. Topacio, the congressman’s lawyer, said he had received information that some witnesses have recanted their testimonies against his client.
“It’s about time,” he said on Wednesday, commenting on the filing of the complaints. “They [DoJ] claim to have solid evidence but I have heard from various sources that some witnesses have recanted their testimonies.”
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.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez last week urged the suspended congressman to return to the Philippines and face the charges.
Mr. Teves has asserted his innocence saying he would return to the Philippines when he feels safe.
“The investigation should’ve been done first before their judgment,” Mr. Teves told a virtual news briefing on April 17. “I’ll go home when I feel safe.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez