Teves hand in retraction ‘possible,’ says Clavano


A Department of Justice official did not discount the possibility the camp of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. had something to do with suspects in the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo recanting their statements.

“It’s very possible. We’re looking at many angles here, that’s why we need to be very careful with our witnesses,” DoJ Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said.

Clavano cited the alleged attempt of a former DoJ undersecretary to talk to the witnesses at the National Bureau of Investigation.

Levito Baligod, the counsel of the Degamo family, disclosed that the former official tried to bribe detained suspects to clam up.

Clavano said they are eyeing the transfer of the suspects to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

He said there is no current official of the DoJ involved in the alleged manipulation of suspects in the slaying of Degamo and nine others on 4 March.

The DoJ official also denied the allegation of Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo that “someone at the agency” may be manipulating the suspects into recanting their extra-judicial confessions in connection with the killing of her husband.

In an interview with reporters via Zoom, Clavano assured that the police officers and agents of the NBI  assigned in the case build-up are among “the best of the best.”

“I think the statement of Mayor Degamo was out of emotion and we hope that the credibility of the DoJ is preserved in this case and for the country,” Clavano said.

On Monday, Osmundo Rivero, one of the suspects in the Degamo slay case, recanted his affidavits tagging Teves Jr. and his former bodyguard Marvin Miranda as the masterminds.

Rivero claimed that police investigators tortured and coerced him into admitting his participation in the crime.

Through his counsel, Danny Villanueva, Rivero also filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Regional Trial Court of Manila seeking to compel Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, and NBI director Medardo de Lemos to present his wife Queenie Rivero, his two-year-old son Jophiel and 15-year-old stepson Christian.

Rivero said he received information that his wife and two sons were taken from their house by a team of soldiers from the Philippine Army together with members of the Municipal Police Station of Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.

He claimed his family was taken to the Office of the Provincial Police in Camp Aberlon, Pagadian City before they were turned over to the NBI.

But the DoJ said Rivero’s family has been placed under the Witness Protection Program after he initially agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Villanueva, on the other hand, said three more suspects identified as Rommel Pattaguan, Rogelio Antipolo Jr., and Dahniel Lora have recanted their previous statements linking Teves to the gruesome crime.

Clavano denied the torture claims made by the suspects.

“As far as our intelligence goes, no such thing happened. We are very careful in handling these suspects because we believe they are also victims in this case,” he said.

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