Teves camp says Remulla makes 'improper' remarks vs. congressman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — The camp of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves on Tuesday said it believes the remarks made by Department of Justice (DOJ) Sec. Jesus Crispin Remulla against the lawmaker are improper, and in effect are only demonizing the congressman.

“The secretary of justice himself is now making obliquities and innuendos as to the guilt of my client. To me, that is highly improper,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

On Monday, the DOJ secretary said Teves is among those being considered by prosecutors as masterminds of the murder of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo. 

Remulla also alleged that Teves may be involved in a big criminal group in the province that is possibly behind several illegal activities in Negros Oriental. 

Topacio said the Justice chief making such statements is improper since the Degamo case has yet to reach preliminary investigation. When it does, the role of the DOJ is to be an impartial, quasi-judicial body that will “determine whether or not there is probable cause to bring a person to trial,” he added.

“If the head of the department keeps saying that this person or that person, in his belief, is guilty, how do you now expect the prosecutors who are all under him to make a contrary decision after preliminary investigation?” Topacio asked.

The lawyer explained that when a crime occurs, an investigation happens first before the masterminds are determined.

However, in the Degamo slay, the alleged orchestrators were first named before an investigation occurred, Topacio pointed out.

“I’ve seen it all before. First, they demonize the person,” he said, noting that they already expect that Teves will be charged for the assassination of the governor.

Still, the Teves camp has no plans to file a motion to inhibit the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors from handling the case.

This was the same motion filed by former Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag amid his alleged involvement in the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid.

Topacio said if authorities think they have the evidence against his client, they should file the case.

Otherwise, they should refrain from making inappropriate statements since they are “prejudicing the minds of your prosecutors, you're prejudicing the minds of your people, you’re indulging in trial by publicity,” the lawyer said.