Police turning Teves’ staff against him — Topacio

Ferdinand Topacio, lead counsel of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.

The police have threatened a staff member of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. to make her testify against him, the lawmaker’s camp claimed on Tuesday.

Ferdinand Topacio, Teves’ lawyer, said they were bringing the matter before the Commission on Human Rights.

Teves has been linked to the 4 March assassination of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and several killings in 2019.

The staff member, a secretary of the congressman, was one of six people arrested by the police and charged with illegal possession of firearms following raids on houses owned by the legislator.

“One of those arrested during the raids, a woman by the name of Hannah Mae Oray, is complaining to us that she was pressured and threatened with physical abuse by the police to force her to testify against Congressman Teves,” Topacio said in a TV interview.

“We will bring this to the attention of the CHR because it is not, strictly speaking, a court. It is a constitutional body and how complaints are made is more casual than in the courts,” Topacio said.

He maintained that the firearms found in Teves’s houses were not the lawmaker’s as he had turned over his firearms to the authorities after his licenses to own guns were canceled.

Teves is still abroad following the expiration of his congressional authority to travel on 9 March. His permit purportedly for a medical reason was good from 28 February. Speaker Martin Romualdez has asked Teves to come home to face the charges against him.

Oray’s sister, Hazel Sumerano, on Tuesday, complained to the CHR of human rights violations allegedly committed by members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Accompanied by Toby Diokno, another Teves lawyer, Sumerano told the CHR that two firearms confiscated by the policemen were actually owned by Hannah’s husband, Herecleo, and both were licensed.

Constant threats

Sumerano said the PNP-CIDG claimed the licenses for Herecleo’s guns had been revoked so he could be charged with illegal possession of firearms.

The Orays were being “subjected to constant threats and harassment and were being forced to serve as witnesses against Congressman Teves for the killing of Governor Degamo,” Sumerano said.

She added the couple was also threatened with being implicated in the killing of three people in 2019, separate crimes that had been pinned on Teves and several others.

“These threats are constant and they won’t stop until they force Hanna Mae to lie and be a witness against Congressman Teves,” Sumerano said.

Degamo was killed along with eight others inside the compound of his residence by nearly a dozen men in full-battle gear.

The governor has unseated Teves’s brother, Pryde Henry Teves, after a recount of the votes cast for Negros Oriental governor last year.

On Tuesday, Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos said at any given time, there were only two uniformed men detailed to guard Degamo.

He clarified that the six security officers assigned to the slain governor — four policemen and two soldiers — were working three shifts per day.

During the assault, one of the two policemen came late and not five of the six were “missing” during the assault as earlier reported, he said.

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