NOW that Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo has been laid to rest, the Department of Justice (DoJ) will push through with the investigation of “many other crimes” committed in the province that the Degamo family wants the authorities to look into.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Friday his department has invited the slain governor’s family to a dialogue next week.
“We just waited for Governor Degamo to be laid to rest, and, of course, this frees their schedule up for us to be able to meet them,” Remulla said in an interview.
He said the DoJ will also study the request of Pamplona, Negros Oriental, Mayor Janice Degamo, the governor’s widow, to freeze the assets of Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.
“Those things can be done, but we will just follow due process,” said Remulla.
Teves has been implicated as the person who ordered the assassination of Degamo by the suspects in the case who are now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila.
Teves, who had flown to the United States before the Degamo killing, is also facing numerous criminal complaints, the latest being illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Multiple murder cases were also filed against him in connection with a string of killings in various parts of Negros Oriental in 2019.
The charges were filed by the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Remulla believes Teves does not want to return to the Philippines because he fears for his safety.
He said “these are poor excuses not to face the charges. As the legal maxim says: flight is an indication of guilt.”
Remulla has said Teves has left the US and is now somewhere in Asia.
He said the government has other ways to compel the congressmen to return home.
“The charges [against Teves] are there. If warrants are issued then we could do the legal process. We have multilateral and bilateral ties with other countries. We will do what is needed,” he said.
Remulla also said the claims made by Teves’ camp that the recent police raids on his houses were a “frame-up” have “no value.” “So stop printing those remarks because they have no value whatsoever if these are not presented in court,” he said.
Remulla reaffirmed that the government is willing to provide security to Teves once he returns home.
“The usual avenues of security are there for us to give to him. I do not think we failed in that respect and we do not intend to fail. It is important to us that he remains safe when he faces the process,” he said.
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Author: Franco Jose C. Baroña