Degamo suspects’ lawyer confirms retraction


A lawyer for four suspects in the assassination of Governor Roel Degamo in March said Sunday that his clients were being pressured to tag Representative Arnolfo Teves as the mastermind in the killing.

Atty. Danny Villanueva, counsel for Rogelio Antipolo Jr., Osmundo Rojas Rivero, Romel Pattaguan and Daniel Lora, averred that representatives of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice were behind the undue pressure.

He averred that the NBI is also using the family of one of his clients, Rivero, to pressure him to admit that he was the one who planned and recruited the members of the assassination team.

Villanueva said his clients have already recanted their earlier sworn statements “prepared for them” by the NBI and DoJ personnel.

“The threats and intimidation by authorities to my clients were the main reasons why they recanted their earlier statements,” Villanueva said in an interview with the Daily Tribune.

He added that Rivero’s family was considered “abducted” as they were picked up by NBI agents from the custody of the Police Provincial Office of Pagadian City, Zamboanga Del Sur on 14 March 2023.

In Rivero’s recantation, he noted that he only wanted to report his missing motorcycle which is why he went to the police on 5 March 2023, the day after the assassination of Degamo.

Instead, the police arrested him and told him he was one of the perpetrators. Lora and Pattaguan on the other hand put it in record in their recantation “that they voluntarily gave themselves up to clear their names.”

“People have been calling them and their relatives, that they are being implicated. And they were persuaded by their loved ones to turn themselves to clear their names. But again, they too were arrested,” Villanueva said.

When they were transferred to the NBI, Villanueva said his clients narrated that “prepared sworn statements are already waiting for them to sign and written in a language they don’t even speak or understand,” that they also decided to forge their signature.

Aside from filing a petition for habeas corpus in relation to Rivero’s family, Villanueva said they will also attend today’s (22 May) preliminary investigation at the DoJ since the Manila local court ordered further investigation when they filed a petition to quash the case and evidence against their clients.

Villanueva called on the DoJ to immediately release his clients and to conduct a thorough investigation into the assassination of Degamo.

“My clients are innocent and they are being framed. They are just victims of circumstances,” Villanueva said.

He added that the assassination of Degamo is a “serious matter” and that the DoJ should not allow it to go unpunished.

“We are calling on the DoJ to immediately release my clients and to conduct a thorough investigation into the assassination of Governor Degamo. We will not rest until justice is served,” Villanueva said.

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