2 suspects in Degamo’s slay might be placed under witness protection program

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into the possibility of putting two of the suspects in the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo under the government’s witness protection program (WPP).

In an interview with reporters, Justice spokesman Mico Clavano said they are in the process of evaluating the statements of the two suspects, whom he refused to identify yet, if they will qualify to be placed under the WPP.

Police arrested four suspects in the death of Degamo and eight others that included innocent civilians over the weekend in Pamplona, Negros Oriental.

The suspects were identified as Benjie Rodriguez, Joven Calibjo Javier, Joric Labrador and Osmundo Rivero, all former members of the Philippine Army who were dismissed from the service.

Another suspect died after engaging authorities in a gunfight during the conduct of a hot-pursuit operation.

In a press conference, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the arrested suspects have provided them with vital information that they can use to pinpoint the person/s behind Degamo’s assassination.

Azurin said the arrested suspects vowed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and to tell whatever they know about the incident.

Aside from complaints over illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, charges for multiple murder have already been filed against the suspects before the Office of Provincial Prosecutor in Dumaguete City.

Justice Undersecretary Nicholas Ty said the DOJ is coordinating with the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to transfer the suspects to the National Capital Region for protective custody.

Teves’ statement

Meanwhile, Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. (Negros Oriental, 3rd District) denied rumors that his family, particularly him and his brother, were behind the killing of Degamo.

In a video statement he posted on his Facebook page on Monday, March 6, 2023, Teves denied allegations made by his critics, especially those he considered as “Marites ug Epal,” that he and his family had a hand in Degamo’s murder.

“If I have the intention or the capability to do that, just remember — if I had the intention and capability to do that, then I should have done it just before the election began,” he said in Tagalog.

The 16-minute video was made while Teves was abroad to undergo stem cell therapy for an undisclosed ailment.

Teves said that while he and his brother, former Negros Oriental governor Pryde Henry Teves, were Degamo’s political rivals, they were not capable of murder nor did they have any motive to kill him.

“What is my motive? My brother and I will also not benefit from this (Degamo’s death). If the governor dies, it will be the vice governor who will assume the former’s post,” he said.

The congressman’s brother ran against Degamo during the May 2022 Local and National Elections and was proclaimed winner until the Commission on Elections overturned his victory.

Because of rumors being circulated by a personality in the province, Teves said he was forced to issue a statement after he learned that several personalities were trying to pin the blame of Degamo’s murder on him and his brother.

“You know that I have long feared that this moment will come. Why? I expected that I would be the one pinpointed for the crime. Maybe they are not saying it openly, but I would like to repeat what I said before, I also have my own sources of intelligence. Now, I found out that there are some people there that want to point me as a suspect. Some want to attract attention just for their own benefit. I am not hitting anyone, but you know who you are,” he said. (TPM, AYB, JKV)